The Faculty Role

Clare 102 was the product of three years of committee meetings involving the departments of Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Math, Physics, and Psychology. The original design came from a committee chaired by Dr. Dalton Hunkins (Computer Science). Faculty cooperation is key in both the design and implementation of the course. The instructors for the course are usually drawn from the departments of Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

The original method of operation goes something like this. The instructor giving the day 1 "large" lecture is responsible for developing a lesson plan for that week's material, including the active learning exercises, reading, etc. for day 2 and day 3. This plan is out-lined on the student guide for the topic and reviewed in a meeting by the faculty involved in the course the week before the topic is given. Exams questions mainly come from the lecturers on the topics covered and are reviewed in a meeting by all the faculty involved.  Exams have been roughly 50/50 short answer and essay questions. Originally, each essay question was graded by one instructor, and exams were circulated among the faculty to get all the essays questions graded. This proved too cumbersome and now each instructor grades all the essay questions in his or her section. The course coordinator is responsible for organizing  meetings and copying and distributing student guides, readings, and exams. There is an end of the semester meeting to make sure the letter grades assigned (section to sections) are fair.

One problem was student attitudes. Science majors felt they should not have to take the course ("we already take all these other science courses"). Non-science majors had a fear of science and mathematics (math in the course is concentrated in the lab) and likewise felt they should not have to take the course ("what do we need this for?"). One of the first priorities has to be to establish the need for such a course in the minds of the students (e.g. by using everyday examples of science). Exam anxiety among non-science students was also intense. Most instructors have an extra review class outside the usual class hours in the days proceeding an exam; sometimes a student will attend more than one of these to prepare for an exam. Among the general student population Clare 102 is still considered the hardest course in the Clare College curriculum.


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