The faculty in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at Florida Atlantic University are vertically integrating Raman spectroscopy experiments and experiences into the undergraduate chemistry curriculum. The project is addressing key, course-specific, student learning outcomes as well as fundamental, anchoring concepts ('big ideas'). The project is accomplishing this by acquiring a sophisticated Raman spectrometer and is using this instrument to introduce and reinforce increasingly more complex chemistry concepts as a student progresses through the course sequence. This project is part of a restructured chemistry curriculum that includes a 'spectroscopy-to-learn' approach. Raman spectroscopy is aiding students' deep learning of molecular structure, quantitative analysis, the elucidation of reaction mechanisms, and how spectroscopy aids research.

The project is demonstrating and establishing the methods by which a sophisticated spectroscopic instrument can be utilized throughout the entire chemistry curriculum to promote understanding of anchoring concepts at all levels. Students are engaging with increasingly more advanced Raman instrument-based experiments as they progress through the chemistry curriculum enabling them to: (1) connect the theory taught in lectures with authentic research and industry practice; (2) become more active and responsible participants in their own learning; and (3) reinforce and extend their understanding of concepts previously learned. Independent consultants are guiding the evaluation of the effectiveness of this effort aimed at the over-arching ideas of improving student understanding of chemical principles and their attitudes towards learning.

The student body of the FAU campus ensures a diverse population is experiencing a hands-on encounter with state-of-the-art instrumentation. The investigators are disseminating their work through presentations and a dedicated web site. In addition, an illustrated handbook featuring the novel undergraduate Raman experiences and experiments is being prepared for publication. An instructor's manual that contains both pre- and post-measures of learning outcomes is also being developed.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Tom Higgins
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Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton
United States
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