Andri SmithAndri Smith
Associate professor of chemistry
Department of Chemistry & Physical Sciences, College of Arts & Sciences

Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) in Chemistry and Nutrition Courses 
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Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) is a student-centered, active-learning approach in which students construct knowledge as they work in small groups on carefully designed activities based on the Socratic method (www.pogil.org).  In each POGIL activity, students engage in a series of learning cycles, in which they first explore information in the model, then discover or invent a new concept, and finally apply this concept to a new situation. In 2010-2011, I used the POGIL approach exclusively in CHE 210-211 (Organic Chemistry I and II).  I measured both student performance (by comparing answers to exam questions from different years) and student attitudes (by examining responses to surveys). I found that as a result of working in groups on POGIL activities in the classroom, students were more engaged and asked more insightful questions during class than they did in previous years when a more traditional approach (with more lecture) was used.  Furthermore, students using POGIL were able to master organic chemistry concepts just as well as those using a more traditional approach.  Finally, despite initial skepticism and concern expressed by many students, by the end of the first semester of organic chemistry, most students saw the merit in this approach. As a result of the success I have had using POGIL in chemistry courses, I am now developing and assessing the use of POGIL activities in introductory nutrition classes. I have developed a set of POGIL activities on the macronutrients (carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins) and have co-authored a set of POGIL activities on the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). I am currently assessing the impact of these activities on both student learning and student attitudes.

Conference Presentations

  • Smith, A. 2011. All POGIL All the Time in Organic Chemistry: The Zeal of the Newly Converted. POGIL Northeast Regional Meeting, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA, July, 2011.
  • Smith, A.L., Purcell, R. 2012. POGIL in Introductory Nutrition Courses.  POGIL National Meeting, Washington University, St. Louis, MO.
  • Parkin, D., Smith, A.L. 2012. Motivating and Engaging Students in Nonmajor Courses.  New England Faculty Development Consortium Fall Conference, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA.
  • Smith, A.L., Purcell, R.J. 2013. Using POGIL to Learn about the M&M (Macro & Micro) Nutrients in Introductory Nutrition Classes. Gordon Research Conference, Chemistry Education Research and Practice, Salve Regina University, Newport, RI.

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