CUTF: Helping General Chemistry Students Develop Study Skills

Hello everyone, my name is John Edurese, and I am a junior majoring in Biological Sciences with the intent to pursue a career in medicine. Additionally, I am working towards a Certificate in Conceptual Foundations of Medicine through the Department of History and Philosophy of Science. I am very excited to be participating in the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Teaching Fellowship this semester! This fall I will be working with Dr. Pete Bell as a UTU (Undergraduate Teaching Undergraduates) for both sections of General Chemistry 2 (CHEM0120).

Many past students in Dr. Bell’s class reported studying 7-9+ hours each week for his exams. Additionally, some will choose to hold off studying until right before the exam, leading to poor retention in the long run and underutilization of course resources. Furthermore, introductory science classes may seem intimidating to first-year students. This prevents students from accessing resources such as office hours or peer-led sessions, posing challenges to students and resulting in lower course performance.

My project involves helping transition students into the rigor of college-level courses by helping them build better study habits. Dr. Bell and I have planned to implement a series of daily practice assignments to help students develop spaced repetition. So far, I have helped with organizing and writing questions as well as hosting weekly in-person help sessions. In these assignments, past material will continue to circulate and reinforce previously learned concepts. These questions will contain exam-level material that will encourage students to seek help if they have difficulty doing them, prompting them to go to office hours and other UTA drop-ins as needed. This utilization will make college-level science classes more personable and less intimidating. Furthermore, focused, daily studying will encourage students to study smarter, but not necessarily harder. My goal with this project is to help students develop better study habits to succeed in chemistry and other academic settings, making science classes more personable along the way.

Participating in the CUTF will be greatly beneficial for me to prepare for a future career in Medicine.  Planning out the assignments and utilizing concepts of active recall and spaced repetition will be useful means to succeed in any academic setting. Additionally, being a resource to the students will better my ability to communicate and disseminate scientific information. Being a healthcare professional requires not only lifelong learning but teaching at every level as well. From communicating with other students, or other healthcare workers, or patients, being an approachable and reliable source of knowledge will be greatly important. This semester, I am thrilled to help people better understand their academic capabilities!

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