Dr. Jennifer Lewis
Office: CHE 202
Dr. Jennifer Lewis is a professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of South Florida. Her area of specialization within chemistry is educational research. Current research projects involve the assessment of student learning and attitudes, the evaluation of a doctoral program, and analysis of student participation patterns in small learning groups.
B.S., North Dakota State University
Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University
With a national imperative to improve student learning in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines, chemistry has been a center of educational research and curriculum development activity. Research in the Lewis group focuses on current trends in the teaching and learning of chemistry at the undergraduate level.
WHO CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN? THE ADOPTION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF REFORMS
Research from the Lewis group on national curriculum dissemination efforts has estimated adoption figures, reported on barriers to adoption, and discussed faculty perceptions of reform at the national level. Exploring faculty attitudes toward reform reveals deep-seated beliefs regarding the teaching and learning of chemistry. Creating strategies for conceptual change will continue to be an integral part of national efforts to promote successful adoption of new curricula for undergraduate chemistry, and the Lewis group is currently working in collaboration with other researchers to create mechanisms for technology-mediated dissemination of assessment data to drive conceptual change. Locally, the Lewis group has spearheaded adoption and implementation of Peer-Led Guided Inquiry (PLGI) and the Science Writing Heuristic (avogadro.chem.iastate.edu/SWH/). PLGI, which was developed by the Lewis group, has roots in Peer-Led Team Learning (www.pltl.org) and Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (www.pogil.org).
YES, BUT DID IT WORK? THE SEARCH FOR EFFECTIVENESS
The Lewis group continues to be active in the determination of whether curricular changes can be associated with positive student outcomes. At the national level, members of the Lewis group have the opportunity to gather data on student learning outcomes in conjunction with large curriculum development projects for a variety of courses, from those for non-science majors all the way to upper-division biochemistry. Locally, results for PLGI, which replaces one lecture per week with a guided inquiry cooperative-learning activity, warranted the expansion of this program, now a regular part of first semester general chemistry at USF. Nationally, the Lewis group has been recognized for its evaluation of PLGI, termed "a promising practice worthy of additional exploration" by the Academic Competitiveness Council. (U.S. Department of Education, Report of the Academic Competitiveness Council, Washington, D.C., 2007) Research on PLGI and other curricular innovations currently implemented at USF is ongoing.
EQUITY: FOR WHOM DID IT WORK? VALUING MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES
A third major focus area for research in the Lewis group has been at-risk populations, particularly those students who find themselves floundering in general chemistry and therefore potentially barred from continuing in science-related careers. This research also incorporates efforts to understand attitudes toward chemistry and to improve overall achievement for women and under-represented minorities in the sciences.