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Report On ‘The Penn State Resource Center: A Faculty Vision Becomes Reality’

The Chemical Educator
Publication Date
  • Chemistry
  • Design
  • Psychology


In this workshop, Peter Jurs and Robert Minard presented a concise, easily applied formula for improving the overall quality of the learning experience at a large state school through simple reading into student psychology. Using the example of a local beer garden, known for its activity, noise, and boisterousness, a ‘chaotic’ approach was described for designing a chemistry learning center attractive to students. The facility integrates all undergraduate laboratory instrumentation and study areas into one room with an atmosphere that is oriented to the student culture. Workshop participants concur that such an approach begins to address the problem of students being too distracted by nonacademic activities on campus after class. The development of this program was reported to greatly improve the level of peer interaction, group learning, and create a more positive response by majors and nonmajors alike to chemistry at Penn State. The success of the learning center in bringing in students suggests that this approach is not limited to chemistry, but is perhaps applicable to other fields of experimental science. Other departments at Penn State are currently exploring this option.

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