Two chemistry instructors from State Fair Community College were recently recognized for their scientific work.

A press release from SFCC says that after conducting more than 30 presentations at American Chemistry Society (ACS) conferences and national consortiums during the last three years and collaborating on several ACS publications, SFCC chemistry instuctors Dr. Shayna Burchett and Jack Lee Hayes, have drawn the attention of their peers in postsecondary education.


Seven years ago, Burchett and Hayes began building their own lab kits for SFCC’s online Introduction to Chemistry with Lab and General Chemistry I with Lab courses because the commercial lab kits did not mirror the course curriculum or the lab experience that on-ground students had. They worked with lab equipment vendors to create a customized kit that could provide online students a "more engaging experience with safety in mind."

“The commercial kits did not provide what I call the ‘phenomenon first’ approach we use in teaching chemistry,” said Burchett. “We first ask students to conduct reagent experiments that allow them to observe a reaction and then ask them to determine what caused the reaction and why it is important in everyday life. This gives students a reason to care about chemistry and motivates them to buy in to learning it.”

When Burchett and Hayes realized the benefits the students gained from this teaching approach and the customized lab kits, they shared their story at conferences. The more they shared, more college and university instructors attended their sessions and opportunities emerged to collaborate with peers on professional articles.

Burchett and Hayes were also asked to contribute chapters in two ACS books, one on distance learning titled “Online Chemistry: The Development and Use of a Customized In-House Laboratory Kit,” and the other chapter on the development of a pre-professional program at a rural community college is scheduled to publish in April or May.

Additionally, Burchett and Hayes’s culture of safety has been published in a Journal of Chemical Health and Safety article titled “Exploding Misconceptions: Developing a Culture of Safety through Learner Driven Activities.” They wrote another article, “Piloting Blended Strategies to Resolve Laboratory Capacity Issues in a First-Semester General Chemistry Course” that provided strategies used to increase lab space as well as student success.

Burchett and Hayes are currently assisting one of their lab equipment vendors in the development of a Small Business Innovation Research grant to improve chemistry courses at SFCC and other institutions as well.


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