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Westminster College Faculty Present Research at Chemical Education Conference

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - Four Westminster College chemistry faculty participated in the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education (BCCE) July 29-Aug. 2 at Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Helen Boylan, associate professor, and Dr. Larry Miller, assistant professor, presented "Engaging Students in Course Content and Chemical Literature with Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique (IF-AT) Scratch Offs."  IF-AT is a multiple choice scratch-off sheet that is based on psychological principles related to learning and memory, and facilitates learning during an assessment and improves retention. The presentation reviewed results of a study that tested students' literacy skills before and after a semester of using IF-AT in Instrumental Analysis.

Boylan, a Westminster graduate who joined the faculty in 2001, earned a Ph.D. from Duquesne University.

Miller, who has been with Westminster since 2008, earned undergraduate degrees from Case Western Reserve University, and a Ph.D. from Purdue University.

Miller also presented "Hired as a Generalist: Keeping Active with Chemistry Education Research (CER) Without a Specific Mandate."  Unlike most traditional positions in a chemistry department, Miller's position is not attached to any specific discipline. Instead his position requires him to teach more than one discipline, mentor students in undergraduate research, and to engage in scholarship. Miller's presentation reviewed his experiences using CER as scholarship in his unique role as a chemistry generalist.

Dr. Sarah Kennedy, assistant professor, presented "Green Seeds Planted in Organic Chemistry Bloom into a Full Green Chemistry Course." Upon returning from a green chemistry workshop, Kennedy implemented several green chemistry laboratories and weekly green activities into her own courses. Kennedy's presentation reviewed the steps from introducing the green activities into courses to creating a full-blown course in which students learned about green technologies, networked with green chemists, and completed research projects focused on promoting green activities.

Kennedy, a Westminster graduate who joined the faculty in 2009, earned a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Peter Smith, associate professor, also attended the conference and served on the 2014 General Chemistry - Second Semester Exam Committee. He helped to compile two versions of the exam to be piloted next spring.

Smith, who has been with Westminster since 2002, earned an undergraduate degree and Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee.

Contact Boylan at (724) 946-6293 or email for more information on the conference.

About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College ranks first in the nation as "Best College for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," according to Forbes.com. Westminster, a top-tier liberal arts college, ranks third in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News Best Colleges guide. Westminster ranked 6th among liberal arts colleges in social mobility, according to the Washington Monthly College Guide, and is one of the most affordable national liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 377 Colleges" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.

Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 42 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus. Visit www.westminster.edu/advantage to view "Advantage: Westminster" A Strategic Plan 2010-2020.