CUTF Introduction: Michelle Spratt

Hello! My name is Michelle Spratt, and I am a senior majoring in Mathematical Biology and Neuroscience with minors in Chemistry and Africana Studies. I am from Hershey, Pennsylvania (although I’m not a big fan of chocolate!). In my free time, I enjoy crocheting and dancing. I’ve crocheted over 50 stuffed animals in the last year. I am participating in the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Teaching Fellowship this semester, and I’m excited to learn more about integrating active learning into the organic chemistry curriculum.

My project is under the guidance of Dr. George Bandik, and we will work together to create comprehensive worksheets that challenge students as they master the organic chemistry curriculum. My worksheets will have a mix of conceptual and applied questions that range in difficulty. Each worksheet will have some simple, fundamental questions and some challenging ones that will take longer to complete. As an undergraduate teaching assistant for Dr. Bandik’s Organic Chemistry 1 course, I run a one-hour study session with two other teaching assistants. During these sessions, the teaching assistants answer questions on the whiteboard and discuss common concepts that students struggle with. We will also give advice on how to study for the exams and how we studied when we took the course.

We are using my worksheets as supplemental content that complements the study session. The worksheets will reinforce the topics discussed in class and challenge students to ensure they understand the concepts behind chemistry. Organic chemistry was one of my favorite classes that I took at Pitt. I hope my project can help other students enjoy it, too! From my observations as a TA, I have noticed that many students try to rely on passive memorization to get through their organic chemistry courses. To succeed in organic chemistry, practicing new problems using higher-level thinking is the best way to prepare for exams. By creating worksheets that students complete with their peers, they can solve complex questions with the help of an instructor nearby to give advice.

After my undergraduate studies, I hope to attend medical school to become a physician. Since I have loved my experiences as a teaching assistant, I hope to continue teaching others about science and medicine. I am interested in remaining in academia after I become a physician, and
this fellowship will help me learn about effective teaching strategies I can use to teach prospective students pursuing medical careers and patients.

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