Massachusetts Institute of Technology Chemistry Students Gain From Connecting Chemistry to Biology

Pupils ought to be taught the subject of science by means of educational textbooks which put a priority on relating a student's normal life, together with further programs of study, to scientific facts & principles. A December 2009 article, which was posted on the website of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), presented in detail how one professor productively introduced that type of teaching model into a university classroom.

At MIT, HHMI professor Catherine Drennan teaches introductory chemistry to approximately two hundred college students, although in high school, she had been a student who didn't like chemistry at all. The way in which she is changing her students' attitudes about chemistry is the way science education should be approached by teachers of all age groups, not just college-age students.

Professor Drennan says that a lot of the incoming MIT first-year students have the same type of attitudes she used to have regarding chemistry. "I tell my students, you may not have discovered your love for chemistry yet, but I'm going to show you how it is applicable." To get them excited about chemistry, Drennan worked with her co-instructor to create examples and problems that connected chemistry topics to biology.

Education researchers at MIT's Teaching and Learning Lab discovered that there was a statistically considerable rise in undergraduate satisfaction with the curriculum after the launch of the inter-disciplinary examples in the lectures. Students were more excited about attending class and actually learning the course work!

A further important outcome is noted in a quote by researcher Rudy Mitchell:

"Even more interesting was the student attendance in the course," Mitchell says. "Large lecture classes often suffer from poor attendance. But 85 percent of students reported attending 90 percent or more of the lectures. That's unheard of in a lecture with 200 students, and it speaks to how enthusiastic the students are about the course."

Drennan's method of inter-curricular education is one that has proven to be effective. What better way to get our children excited about learning science than to relate it to their everyday lives?