One of the biggest shocks that I experienced while starting university was having to alter my study techniques. During my first year, I began to realize that the study methods I used throughout high school were no longer working for me.
Author: Natasha Evans, biochemistry student, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
For many science students at the University of Waterloo, their first exam experience comes in the form of what is known as “Chemistry Term Test 1”. University chemistry is a fast-paced environment with little time to stop and catch up.
“Who wants to become a doctor”? I remember sitting in my first year “get to know your program” seminar and the professor asked that question to the thousand or so students. With hundreds of hands confirming the statement, she shattered everyone’s dream by saying “congratulations, only three of you will make it.”
A few blocks from my home a parcel of land is for sale with a large sign advertising its size as “+/- 5.23 acres”. Is it possible that I could purchase -5.23 acres of land? Would the seller then pay me for this purchase? Of course this is ridiculous, and we could logically assume the vendor isn’t selling negative acreage, and so interpret the sign to mean approximately 5.23 acres, but this lack of clarity is not acceptable in science.
I wanted to comment on your "Midterms can be a shock" article from the December 2017/January 2018 issue since it was particularly applicable to what was happening in my two sections of Grade 12 University Advanced Functions.
The term feels long and full of potential on that first day of class. Whether it’s your first semester or your last one at university, always take the time to review your course syllabus, understand the course requirements, needed materials, break down of assignments, midterms and final exam.
At the University of Waterloo — and most universities — individual concerns and questions can often be resolved quickly by email. In the Science Undergraduate Office we receive hundreds of emails each week. During peak times throughout the term, we receive hundreds of emails per day.
I tell students on the first day in my undergraduate chemistry class — think about the chemistry, not the math. Almost every chemistry calculation problem can be deconstructed into a math word problem.
Our students don’t read test questions very carefully. At the University of Toronto, our introductory courses for life science students feature tests that typically include a combination of multiple choice and short-answer questions, with more weighting placed on the latter.
New series where first year university instructors give advice to high school teachers and future students. The following advice was based conversations with several lab instructors at the University of Waterloo.
In accordance with the Ontario high school curriculum, students first encounter the topic of stoichiometry in grade 11. In this unit, they are introduced to the mole concept and how it relates to the quantitative aspects of chemical reactions.
Co-op is great. As a third year Nanotechnology student who has now completed four of his six 4-month co-op work terms, I am obliged to praise this ever-rewarding system that the University of Waterloo calls “Co-operative Education”.
As a first year university chemistry instructor, I find it unfortunate when I see some of my good students perform poorly on midterms or final exams because of their inexperience in multiple-choice based test-taking. I want to clarify explicitly that this has nothing to do with the students’ lack of knowledge or understanding in the topic; nor is it because the students have failed to prepare well.
From our combined experiences as coordinators and instructors of large first-year chemistry classes, we have noticed that students need not only to master subject-specific concepts and problem-solving skills to be successful, but also to think deeply about effective study habits, time management and test-writing skills. Indeed, during individual meetings with students after each initial term test, we spend more time talking about these ideas rather than chemistry concepts.
Many Chem 13 News readers have students who plan to take first-year university chemistry courses. Based on our combined experiences teaching first-year undergraduates, these courses can appear daunting and some of our students do not seek assistance until it is much too late — often because they either do not appreciate that extensive help exists, or they believe they do not require it.
It never fails. As I begin a class saying we will be covering the chemistry of acids and bases, either with science or engineering students, I get a general groan from the whole group. They all tell me they’ve covered this before, but when presented with a few questions, it becomes clear that I will need to do more than a simple review.
Imagine some students walking into a university auditorium with 500 others. In their backpacks, the students have binders with loose-leaf paper to take notes and a couple of pens. They are not carrying cellphones, laptops or iPads.
What is nanotechnology? I’ve been asked this question numerous times during the past year, and I am currently in the process of generating a suitable response. However, the following paragraphs might provide you with a start to this highly sought-after answer.
Undergraduate chemistry students the world over are commonly taught by attending laboratories, tutorials and lectures. At the University of Toronto, most first-year life science students are required to take two introductory courses which deal with physical principles and organic chemistry respectively.