Teaching Innovations

Our Department is dedicated to providing the best possible learning environment for our students.  Our teaching leverages best practices, active learning, education research, and culturally relevant pedagogy.

Inquiry-based curricula

Faculty in the department actively seek and create inquiry-based curricula to help students think like scientists.  

  • Argument Driven Inquiry (ADI) is the instructional model that has been adopted for Chem 1410 "General Chemistry I Laboratory" and Chem 1460 "General Chemistry II Laboratory." ADI seeks to have students understand science concepts, practices, and discourse.  
  • PhS 1100 "Practical Physics" uses the Physics and Everyday Thinking curricula. PET has students predict, observe, and explain hands-on phenomena in physics and physical chemistry.  Additionally students in the course reflect on their own learning processes in science.  
  • Several chemistry faculty members make use of the POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning) model in designing group activities within lecture classes.  POGIL scaffolds students construction of science concepts using models, data, and probing questions.
  • The Physics Program has recieved a funding from multiple national science foundation grants to develop active learning spaces that leverage student resources through research on student learning. CSU physics has received national recognition for its instructional efforts: See our AIP, APS, and SPS recognition. 
  • Learning Assistant Model: The CSU Learning Assistant Program began in the Department of Chemistry, Physics and Engineering Studies in 2010. Learning Assistants (LAs) are  students who, through the guidance of weekly preparation sessions and a pedagogy course, facilitate discussions among groups of students in a variety of classroom settings that encourage active engagement. 

Science Teaching and Laboratories

We work hard to make our classrooms welcoming and effective for students underrepresented in the STEM disciplines.  Our studio classroom spaces are designed for group collaboration and active learning. Each room is also equipped with eight independent Starboards that each utilize a section of the whiteboards.   

The science departments have multiple laboratory spaces where students conduct experiments. Many of these laboratories are equipped with modern pedagogical equipment such as PASCO and Vernier data acquisition systems as well as spectrometers including IR, GC, NMR, and ESM.  Students all engage in independent research projects, working alongside faculty, and defend a thesis during their senior year. 

Membership in organizations dedicated to the learning and teaching of science. Two CSU faculty are active members of the planning committee for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics and Science: Research and Practice. Members of the department regularly attend these symposia which are a forum for faculty and graduate students in education, mathematics, and science devoted to improving teaching and learning of mathematics and science.

CSU faculty are also active members and attend meetings of the following organizations Project Kaleidoscope, the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST), the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

Central to the departments innovations teaching are its role in assessment.  Click our assessment page for more information on these efforts.