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Introducing computers to freshman classes


Brian Pankuch

Note: This article was scanned using OCR from the Spring 1992 CCCE Newsletter. Please contact us if you identify any OCR errors.
Ater 3 years of experimenting with using the Mac in our four beginning courses we found the results were quite positive. We now introduce the use of chemistry programs to all freshman, taking about 30 minutes during the first lab period to move each lab class to a separate Mac lab. We share the computer's with the rest of the college and have had a few problems with scheduling.
Since the computers are sometimes down it would help if to have a second group of Macs in our academic learning center. They will also provide additional tutoring when our human tutors get swamped by students wanting to. learn the last month's material an hour before their test.
We have over a thousand students a year who are exposed to using Macs for drill and practice, tutorials and simulations. We have a large number of students for whom English is not their native tongue, and another group who are returning to college to make themselves more competitive in the job market. Both groups are finding the programs a helpful bridge to the textbooks.
As I reported in the last issue we've had very good results in increased student ability to do chemistry problems and a concomitant increase in test scores for those students who use the programs more than a few hours. This year I have shown an overheao to my students indicating the better student results here at Union and other colleges by those who use computer programs. I have had student use of the programs jump from the 30-50°/o of a class to 76-92°/o of a class. The ability to have much of the basic drill, practice, and tutorials available on the Macs has had the pleasant side effect of having more penetrating and interesting questions asked in class. Since the programs also seem to increase student confidence in their problem solving ability more students are tackling problems beyond just those assigned. A number of students are doing all the problems at the end of each chapter in their text.
Except for the initial introduction to the Macs, use is voluntary. We make it convenient by having the Macs available from 8 AM to 1 1 PM and on Saturdays.
We are looking for more high quality programs that work. If you have come across any, how about reviewing it and sharing it with the rest of us.
02/06/92 to 02/10/92