Adaptive Chemistry Course Aims to Bridge STEM Achievement Gap

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A new "smart course" from the Inspark Teaching Network, a global organization of educators and researchers devoted to advancing science teaching and learning, aims to help students meet basic science education requirements and develop an interest in STEM fields. Created in partnership with Smart Sparrow and Arizona State University's Center for Education Through Exploration, Critical Chemistry: The Science of Saving Lives combines adaptive learning and simulations focused on relevant issues such as the opioid crisis, protecting safe water supplies and fighting disease. It will be available this fall.

The course exposes non-science-major students to STEM topics they might otherwise had avoided, according to a news announcement. The idea is to improve student engagement and success by linking the application of science to real-world challenges.

"STEM students have more opportunity than ever before, as the STEM industry continues to ramp up hiring across the country," said Jacqui Hayes, director of studio innovation for the Inspark Teaching Network, in a statement. "Smart courses like Critical Chemistry are helping transform how we teach STEM so that all students, including first-generation and low-income students, have the opportunity to succeed and pursue careers in STEM fields."

The course is designed to replace a traditional chemistry textbook or can be used alongside the free OpenStax Chemistry textbook. It also includes simulations from the PhET Interactive Simulations project, a collection of interactive science and math content from the University of Colorado Boulder. On the instructor side, the Smart Sparrow platform provides real-time data on students' progress through the course, allowing professors to provide additional support or remedial content when needed.

For more information and a video demo, go to the Inspark Teaching Network site.

About the Author

About the author: Rhea Kelly is executive editor for Campus Technology. She can be reached at rkelly@1105media.com.