Before, During and After Class Activities: An NSF Proposed Project

This proposal addresses three perceived areas of concern in large introductory Chemistry lecture courses:

We propose to develop 24 sets of instructional materials that will support the instruction of introductory chemistry as it is taught in large lecture sections in a one-year course for science and engineering majors. These instructional materials will be activities for “before”, “during”, and “after” class meetings using an inquiry oriented instructional strategy (the Learning Cycle Approach). The activities for before, during, and after a particular class meeting will be linked together and address specific learning objectives for the course.

The Before Class Exploration (BCE) is a web-based exercise that students do before they attend a lecture. It will usually consist of a data collection activity using a simulation program along with a few questions about the data, or it will consist of a set of 5 to 7 questions. The activity will run through a web browser and should require only 10 to 15 minutes of a student’s time to complete. Upon submission of the BCE, students receive a copy of their responses and, when appropriate, an expert’s response to the same questions for comparison. The instructor can access all student responses to the BCE prior to lecture to gain a better picture of the student’s pre-existing knowledge, which will allow lecture activities to be customized. The During Class Invention (DCI) will use data generated in the BCE and along with questions/problems develop a concept that focuses on a course learning objective. The DCI is designed to be completed by small cooperative groups to allow for some self instruction. Students can report their consensus response for the instructor’s consideration using a student response system (H-IIT, Educue, eLearning) and/or by turning in a written response. The After Class Application (ACA) is a web-based set of questions that will allow students to apply their knowledge of the concept introduced by the BCE and ‘invented’ by the DCI. The questions on the ACA will be both conceptual and algorithmic. Since both the BCE and ACA are web-based, all responses are stored in a relational database.

In support of these materials the project will also develop a Teacher Web Site and a Student Web Site. The teacher site will allow instructors to assign BCE and ACA activities to their students and to access/review student responses. The student site will allow students to access BCEs and ACAs assigned by their instructor.


Abraham, M. R. and Gelder, J. I. (2008). Technology Based Inquiry Oriented Activities for Large Lecture Environments. In N. J. Pienta, M. M. Cooper & T. J. Greenbowe (Eds.), Chemists' Guide to Effective Teaching Vol. II (Chapter 12). Upper Saddle River, N. J.: Prentice Hall.

Abraham, M.R, Gelder, J. I., Greenbowe, T.J. (2007, 2008, 2009). During Class Inventions and Computer Laboratory Activities, Volume I and Volume II. Plymouth, MI.: Hayden-McNeil