Active Learning Strategies in Higher Education. Applications in BSc and MSc Degrees of the Faculty of Chemistry at the University of Barcelona

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Oscar Núñez, PhD – Delegate of the Rector for Research, Innovation and Improvement of Teaching and Learning, Department of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Chemistry, University of Barcelona, Spain
Fermín Huarte, PhD – Vice-Dean of Academic Planning and Quality of the Faculty of Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, University of Barcelona, Spain
Miquel Vidal – Professor, Dean of the Faculty of Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, University of Barcelona, Spain

Series: University Teaching and Faculty Development
BISAC: EDU050000; EDU015000; EDU029030
DOI: https://doi.org/10.52305/DYCL4536

The profound change that higher education is undergoing is having a special impact on the processes of teaching and training of university teaching staff. The emergence of a new curricular structure based on learning outcomes and the proposal of new teaching methods focused on student learning generate pedagogical-didactic demands that require a teaching profile capable of fostering meaningful learning and the ability to develop reflective thinking in our students. This requires the implementation of teaching methodologies focused not only on the transmission of knowledge of the discipline, but also on the acquisition of soft skills such as analytical skills, critical thinking, teamwork, data interpretation, effective time management, decision making and approaching new and open problems.

In recent years, the University of Barcelona (UB) has designed and implemented programs aimed at teaching improvement and innovation. In this context, and as a result of previous actions and experiences, the program “Research, Innovation and Improvement of Teaching and Learning (RIMDA, Recerca, Innovació i Millora de la Docència i l’Aprenentatge), was designed in 2017 to promote teaching quality at the UB. Within this framework, the creation of teaching projects at the faculty level has guided the UB’s teaching and learning quality.

The present book “Active Learning Strategies in Higher Education. Application in BSc and MSc Degrees of the Faculty of Chemistry at the University of Barcelona” summarizes the results of the institutional project aiming at promoting teaching quality at the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of Barcelona, the so-called RIMDA-Chemistry Project. The project and methodological approach followed is fully described in Chapter 1 (Institutional project to promote teaching quality at the University of Barcelona’s Faculty of Chemistry). As described in the chapter, the RIMDA-Chemistry Project aims to consolidate and promote teaching quality in the Faculty of Chemistry, with the objective of integrating teacher training and teaching innovation in the context of subjects in the area of Chemistry. The teaching innovation lines employed within the RIMDA-Chemistry Project were: flipped-classroom (just-in-time teaching mode); flipped-classroom (team-based learning mode); case-based learning; problem-based learning; and service-learning. The selected lines of active learning teaching were applied to theoretical and experimental subjects of BSc and MSc degrees offered at the Faculty of Chemistry, with collaborative teaching teams working through lesson study-clinical supervision approach in a planning-action-reflection process, guided by an expert advisor who was also teaching staff of the Faculty of Chemistry. The subsequent chapters of the book describe in detail the implementations of the active learning lines.

These chapters illustrate how active learning strategies were applied to undergraduate and master’s degree compulsory and elective subjects. New collaborative teaching groups were created based on the methodological learning approach instead of those based on the subject knowledge area. According to faculty perceptions and/or responses to specific questionnaires by students, active learning strategies systematically improved students’ acquisition of competencies, especially decision-making, oral communication, information search and critical interpretation of information, in addition to improving subject grades. Moreover, especially in the context of case and problem solving, students developed their mental abilities better by evaluating real situations and applying concepts than by learning those same (often abstract) concepts simply from theoretical examples. In addition, teamwork and interaction with other students constituted effective training in the human aspects of management.
After the implementation of the actions related to the different strategies, the feedback provided by the students showed a high level of satisfaction with the learning experience. However, the implementation of the activity implied more work on the part of teachers and students, which led to the reflection that, despite these remarkable benefits, the learning advantages and the investment of additional effort required by these student-centered active methodologies must be weighed against each other.
The application of learner-centered methodologies remains a challenge, as most teachers and students are accustomed to traditional teaching. For teachers to adopt these new methodologies they must learn from the experience and examples of others, gain confidence in their use and see the value of their application. As a final main message, active learning strategies must transcend the limited scope of the activities of a teaching innovation group and be incorporated as a consolidated teaching methodology in undergraduate and master’s degree curricula.

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Table of Contents

Preface

Chapter 1. The Institutional Project to Promote Teaching Quality for the University of Barcelona’s Chemistry Faculty
José Luis Medina1, Beatriz Jarauta1, Fermín Huarte-Larrañaga2, Miquel Vidal3 and Oscar Núñez3,4
1
Department of Didactics and Educational Organization, Faculty of Education, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
2Department of Material Science and Physical Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
3Department of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
4Serra Hunter Fellow Program, Government of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain

Chapter 2. The Flipped Classroom Methodology Using Just-in-Time Teaching Applied to Materials Science Subjects
Jessica Giró1, Joan Formosa1, Mònica Martínez1 and Eliana Ramírez2
1Materials Science and Physical Chemistry Department, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
2Chemical Engineering and Analytical Chemistry Department, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Chapter 3. The Flipped Classroom Methodology in Analytical Chemistry and Inorganic Materials Subjects in BSc Degrees
José Manuel Díaz-Cruz1, Albert Figuerola2, Eliana Ramírez1, Núria Serrano1 and Xavier Subirats1
1
Department of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Chemistry, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
2Department of Inorganic and Organic Chemistry, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Chapter 4. The Flipped Classroom: Team-Based Learning Applied to Chemistry Subjects
Susana Amézqueta Pérez1, Mercè Granados Juan1, Fermín Huarte-Larrañaga2, José Fermín López Sanchez1, Clara Ràfols Llach1, Àngels Sahuquillo Estrugo1, Francisco Javier Santos Vicente1, Maria Sarret Pons2 and Alex Tarancón Sanz1
1Department of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Chemistry, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
2Department of Materials Science and Physical Chemistry, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Chapter 5. The Case-Based Learning Methodology in Theoretical Subjects of BSc and MSc in Chemistry
Roger Bringué, Anna de Juan and Anna Rigol
Department of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Chemistry, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Chapter 6. Case Study-Based Active Learning in an Experimental Chemistry Subject for the Improvement of Soft Skills
Oscar Núñez, Anna Rigol and Miquel Vidal
Department of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Chemistry, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Chapter 7. Problem-Based Learning Applied to Chemistry Subjects: Face-to-Face and Online Experiences
Anna Maria Costa1, Núria Escaja1, Miguel González2, Sergio Madurga2 and Elisabet Fuguet3
1Inorganic and Organic Chemistry Department, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
2Department of Material Science and Physical Chemistry, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
3Department of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Chemistry, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Chapter 8. The Service-Learning Methodology in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Materials Engineering BSc Degrees
J. M. Chimenos1, J. Garcia2, M. Segarra1, E. Xuriguera1 and M. Martínez1
1Materials Science and Physical Chemistry Department, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
2Department of Inorganic and Organic Chemistry, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Index

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