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Friday, June 20 • 10:30am - 11:00am
CON11.06 – Transforming the Development of Inquiry Skills: To What Extent does Participation in an Inquiry Course Enhance the Development of Inquiry Skills as Compared to Other Inquiry-Based Opportunities? (Room A334)

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The Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at McMaster University features two programs: Honours Chemistry and Honours Chemical Biology. While both programs feature inquiry-based integrated labs, only the Honours Chemical Biology program currently features a dedicated inquiry (non-lab) course. Students are initiated into the world of Chemical Biology through a first-semester Level 2 course titled ‘Inquiry for Chemical Biology’. The objectives of the course include the development of inquiry skills such as asking good questions, and accessing the primary literature.

This ethics-approved undergraduate student-led research project examines the perceptions of Chemical Biology students as to the extent they are transformed in the development of their inquiry skills through participation in the Inquiry for Chemical Biology course. It also examines to what extent these skills may be developed through other opportunities (e.g., a co-operative education experience, inquiry-based labs) for both Chemistry and Chemical Biology students. It further seeks to compare the development of inquiry skills in these two student populations, who arrive through different paths at the same Level 3 course, where, in groups, they complete an inquiry project.

Students from Levels 3-5 of the Honours Chemistry and Honours Chemical Biology programs will be surveyed to gather their perceptions as to what extent they have gained or developed certain inquiry skills (as identified by the literature and the Inquiry course syllabus) through participation in the Inquiry course (for Chemical Biology students), and other opportunities (all students). Instructors from the Inquiry course and the Level 3 course will be interviewed, along with a teaching assistant who acts as an inquiry project group mentor from the Level 3 course. Results from the student surveys and the instructor and TA interviews will be presented. Participants will leave the session with a deeper understanding of inquiry learning and inquiry skills, and the role a targeted inquiry course and other inquiry-based activities can play in supporting the development of these skills.

Friday June 20, 2014 10:30am - 11:00am EDT
A334 McArthur Hall

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