DLIAward Winner Lehman College of CUNY

Concurrent Session 9

Brief Abstract

DLIAward Winner

Category:  Faculty-Led Team Award

Courseware Platform: Sapling Learning/Macmillan AND a WordPress custom CUNY site

This project is driven by four overarching goals: increase the success of students in gateway science courses, particularly low-income students of color, reduce out-of-pocket costs for students, find truly effective pedagogical practices that can be implemented across resource-limited public institutions like CUNY, and teach instructors to adapt the pedagogies. We restructured a one-year gateway General Chemistry course that has low national passing rates (~60%). In Spring 2014, we ran a pilot course at Hunter College as a truly lectureless hybrid: 1hr of class time, most instruction occurring at home through a set of custom videos, a commercial online homework system (Sapling Learning), and an elegant, easy-to-use WordPress website. The results were dramatic - over 200 students registered, the passing rate exceeded 85% (more than our best instructor's passing rate!), student costs were reduced by half and student satisfaction was high. Despite this, students requested more class time. In Fall 2014 we offered the current version of the course  -  a flipped, active learning class where students spend 3hrs in a (non-lecture) class, learn new content through the video backbone, and practice their learning in weekly online homework sets. In Spring 2015, two of us moved to Lehman College, and enrolled a lower performing group of students into a flipped course. The passing rates at Lehman rose from 35% to 80%! Students at Lehman and Hunter scored the same on identical tests  -  a true reduction in the achievement gap. The results appear robust, the course is cheaper, and now we are focused on scale. 


I was trained in the 1980s as a traditional theoretical chemist and began my academic career in 1989 at the City University of New York, Hunter College, focused on computational modelling of nucleic acid/salt interactions. Five years later my career took a turn towards science education – and I have been active in this exciting disciplinary area for more than twenty years. My work in science education has been focused on new ways to improve classroom instruction in high school and college classes to increase access to science careers for students historically excluded from the science pipeline. The past 5 years have been the most exciting with the development of the Multi-resourced, Flipped General Chemistry course. The cross campus collaborations, the opportunity to work with Prof. Donna McGregor, an incomparably talented teacher and thinker, and the confluence of pedagogy and technology has produced an approach to teaching General Chemistry that truly does reach students and opens the STEM pipeline.



Extended Abstract

Lehman College is one of the 24 colleges of the City University of New York, the nation's largest urban public university. The 37-acre campus and its beautiful gothic architecture were constructed in the 1930s as part of Hunter College (another CUNY college in Manhattan) to better serve the residents of the Bronx. Fifty years ago, the Bronx campus of Hunter became independent and Lehman College of CUNY was born. Lehman is the only public senior college in the Bronx and serves as a cultural hub for the borough. Its Performing Arts Center regularly hosts international performances of musicians and dancers. Lehman educates most of the nurses and teachers of the borough and surrounding suburbs. And Lehman's Instructional Technology (IT) department is known within CUNY as a unit that values innovation and has led Lehman in offering the most online courses within CUNY.