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(Just) before connected courses meets bonding, structure and periodicity.

2 min read

My claim to fame is that I sat on the coach next to Jonathan Worth when he travelled to claim his 2013 National Teaching Fellowship award. For me, that has proven to be a  life-shaping serendipitous event. Nobody does OPEN like Jonathan. 

Since then I have bumped into Jonathan a number of times and done my best to feed the legend on Twitter and through nominations for keynotes addresses. He tells me he doesn't really do many of those, so it must be merely a coincidence that I constantly find myself in his audience and under his spell.

When Jonathan suggests you might want to be involved in one of his projects you're well advised to agree. Even if the notice is somewhat short and the project is rather far from your comfort zone.

Which brings us to the connected courses pedagogical model. How can I possibly make this work for my students? Because much as I admire Jonathan I can't ask my students to engage if there is nothing in it for them. And in May, after the syllabus proper has finished! It cannot be summative and I cannot compel students to attend and it needs to compete with traditional exam preparation.

My answer has been to formulate something related to revision. But what? I spent the first 20 weeks encouraging the whole cohort to look at the big conceptual picture. I then relent and have spent the last week explicitly walking through examination questions. The Ccourses model lends itself to problems not content. 

In chemistry, real problems require imagination and creativity. So I sought out long-term mentor Tina Overton. As always Tina has come-up-trumps with some fuzzy problems. They are fuzzy, there is no definitive absolutely correct answer but they certainly present an excellent vehicle for some chemistry that both revises but also expands upon bonding, structure and periodicity and connects to other parts of our chemistry degree.

Now to see if anyone turns up... I've had 3 apologies this afternoon already!