Peer teaching: taking the recipe out of food analytical chemistry

Dunne, Julie (2013) Peer teaching: taking the recipe out of food analytical chemistry. In: 5th Eurovariety in Chemistry Education, University of Limerick, 3rd – 5th July 2013. “Smarter Teaching-Better Learning, Limerick, Ireland..


This presentation describes the implementation over several years of an alternative to ‘recipestyle’ laboratory practicals for a group of third year students studying applied chemistry as part of a BSc Nutraceuticals degree. The main objectives of the laboratory re-design are to better prepare students for the more independent final year research project, and to integrate key employability skills into the curriculum. The approach retains many of the ‘tried and tested’ food chemistry experiments, but involves using a group peer-teaching methodology which aims to add value to the experience for the students. The anticipated added value includes improving research skills through trouble-shooting and optimising experiments; academic written skills through preparing teaching resources; oral communication and presentation skills through peer-teaching; and employability skills through group organising and planning. Student evaluation, focussing on a cohort of students’ perception of preparedness for final year projects and placements after the chemistry practicals in third year, and re-visiting the cohort following their final year projects and work placement, will be presented. Finally, the approach has seen several iterations, some of which were due to personal reflection and student feedback, and some enforced through increased class sizes and reduced class contact hours for practicals. The presentation will highlight how various technologies were successfully utilised to overcome some of the barriers to retaining the pedagogy, and consider how resource issues will impact on student learning. For the benefit of practitioners, assessment and feedback mechanisms will be briefly discussed. Furthermore, insights into food analysis will be apparent, which may be of interest to those teaching general chemistry courses as a means to add context to chemistry practical work.

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