NIU Department of
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Where the study of matter...matters!
Director of Graduate Studies
Office: La Tourette Hall 426
Phone: (815) 753-6875
Research Associate, New York State Department of Health, 1986-1988
Research Associate, Rice University, 1983-1986
Ph.D., Purdue University, 1983
B.S., Niagara University, 1976
Inquiry-based teaching methods; pivot charts to assess student learning; collaboration technologies to promote problem based learning.
There are numerous pedagogical challenges in effective curricular design. Development of inquiry-based teaching methods that effectively engage students in various biological and chemical problems, such as membrane transport or protein structure is a primary interest area. Such methods include decision trees, magic number generators, and "bridge" kits. To address a larger problem, these methods are also integrated into projects to assess high school science teacher response to various in-class scenarios with the goal of developing strategies to close the well-documented "college readiness" gap.
Another interest area involves student assessment, especially involving data from multiple sources. In the absence of a dedicated assessment platform, such data is often entered into offline spreadsheets for analysis and reporting. A survey of local school districts that use Excel spreadsheets to analyze assessment data revealed “static” charts to be a common practice for viewing performance trend lines in student subgroups. This approach may not yield a comprehensive view of available spreadsheet data. One of the least utilized features of Excel is also one of its most powerful features - the pivot chart. Work in this area is focused on development of differentiated methods that integrate pivot charts into an evaluation of subgroup data and the larger problem of assessing whether student learning has occurred.
A final interest area is collaboration technology. A common university practice with MS Office software, such as Word or Excel, is to create a file and to send it as an e-mail attachment for distribution or review. This project is focused on the development of applications and strategies that use SharePoint, and other collaboration technologies, to build productive and sustainable online environments. A goal is to train people to leverage the team-based features built into MS Office and to promote centralized, rather than decentralized, management of documents and other resources.