Comparison of Art-Chemistry and Forensic Science for Fostering Critical Thinking Skills in the Chemistry Curriculum


Bower, Nathan

Author Affiliation: 

Colorado College




This longitudinal and cross-sectional study compares two versions of Art-Chemistry (Conservation-Art and Alchemy-Art emphases), two courses of an Introductory Forensic Science (with a writing emphasis), and two courses of General Chemistry taught by two instructors who have participated in CWCS workshops. At Colorado College, courses are taught using a unique “Block” calendar in which each course is one month long. Students take and faculty teach only one course at a time so there are fewer confounding variables in cross-sectional studies. Detailed syllabi and course goals will be shared and the outcomes of the comparative study of these introductory courses will be presented. The longitudinal outcomes measured include student retention in science from these courses relative to the College-wide population and relative to other “science-oriented” introductory courses. We will also present a cross-sectional assessment of learning goals for these courses based on the self-reported student learning outcomes as measured by a test instrument developed for the Chem-Links Consortium. Comparative outcomes for General Chemistry taught using regular and POGIL formats with a Forensic emphasis will also be presented and Forensic Science and Art-Chemistry exercises that we have found particularly useful for fostering critical thinking skills at various points in the Chemistry major will be shared, especially those skills being examined by the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) test.