Professor’s unique approach to teaching science

By Lauren Coronado

Cal Poly Pomona’s eLearning hosted an installment of the Wall of Celebrating Outstanding Online Learning Speakers Series on Wednesday. The Wall of COOL recognizes professors who present interesting and novel uses of technology in their classes.

Jodye Selco, Wall of COOL awardee and professor of science education at CPP, presented why and how her e-friendly, hybrid class has been such a success for CHM 301, Fundamentals of Physical Chemistry.

Selco has been teaching the hybrid course for almost five years. Students in the course meet with Selco three days a week for a total of five hours. Students earn one unit for the activity section of the course, and three units for the lecture.

“[The] majority of the work is done during class, and there are collaborations, computer programming and watching the online lecturette,” said Selco. “Then there is preparation, and homework. Tests and quizzes are take home, but time spent in class is where the majority of learning is taking place.”

Selco’s course philosophy is to redesign objectives via the Internet while focusing on CPP’s “learn by doing” approach. She describes the course as a “discovery class,” where students “do, then learn.” Students engage in experimental activities before going to lecture, where students learn what they did right and/or wrong during the activity.

“[The hybrid and e-learning approach] certainly works best in science, where a lot of sciences are quantitative and are about relationships between different things,” said Selco. “This approach is about trying to do other things to get people to understand the material. I was taught the way everyone else learns, and I became a physical chemist, not because the pedagogue in the class was good, but because I saw the potential in the subject and it was really interesting.

“But I kept saying things like, ‘What does that?’ and no one had answers for me, so I try to provide that in my class ” much more applied and using the Cal Poly ‘learn by doing’ way.”

Pauline Muljana, instructional designer for eLearning, shared her confidence in Selco’s teaching methods and philosophies.

“[Selco] talked about the ‘flip method’ in teaching,” said Muljana. “Usually it’s lecture first and then activity. What I like about her method is that the students get some kind of hands on activity, and by the end of the lesson, students can understand and relate their actions to the course.”

Selco’s grading policy for the hybrid course is also different. Instead of presenting a fixed syllabus to her students, she offers students the opportunity to negotiate which aspects of the course should be weighed more heavily than others.

Her approach is also based on student feedback. If students feel that they spend more time and energy in one section of the class, Selco wants to reward her students with the grading policy that they deserve.

“Selco also talked about her flexible grading policy and I think that’s nice because students can take control of what their learning and how to balance their time.” said Muljana.

Students appreciate Selco’s teaching method and have provided her with positive, anonymous student feedback.

“Overall, this teaching methodology is pretty effective in getting across the main goals set out by the professor.” said one student.

Selco is excited about the newly designed course and looks forward to continually improve its effectiveness.

Selco

Jennifer Contreras / The Poly Post

Selco

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