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At Michigan: The Search May Also Be The Answer

A new chemistry course at the University of Michigan is part of a new wave of undergraduate science courses intended to appeal to a broader mix of students. It emphasizes the active search for solutions instead of asking students to demonstrate a perfunctory knowledge of the "right" answer. The Michigan instructors, Seyhan Ege and Brian Coppola, teach an introductory organic chemistry course called "Structure and Reactivity." They do not grade on a curve, and they do not threaten students with

Roger Johnson
A new chemistry course at the University of Michigan is part of a new wave of undergraduate science courses intended to appeal to a broader mix of students. It emphasizes the active search for solutions instead of asking students to demonstrate a perfunctory knowledge of the "right" answer.

The Michigan instructors, Seyhan Ege and Brian Coppola, teach an introductory organic chemistry course called "Structure and Reactivity." They do not grade on a curve, and they do not threaten students with the warning, "Look to your right and to your left; only one of you will pass this course." Instead, Ege and Coppola tell students that "we are here to help you succeed."

Coppola says his strategy is to encourage students to take responsibility for what they learn, and his goal is to teach them how to learn rather than to deliver large amounts of information about organic chemistry.

In the...

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