Green Chemistry: Flipping the Classroom

Course Green Chemistry
Lecturer Chris Slootweg
Context Master Chemistry, track Molecular Sciences (joint degree)
Master Chemistry, track Science for Energy and Sustainability (joint degree)
Master Physics and Astronomy, track Science for Energy and Sustainability (joint degree)
Master Science, Business & Innovation (VU)
Challenge Stimulate students from day 1 in order to achieve an immediate, and lasting, interest resulting in high participation levels.
Intervention Flipped-class pedagogy in combination with team-based peer-review and feedback.
Evaluation Students appreciated the challenge; participation level was high.
Related Topics Student activationFlipped ClassroomMethods to enhance interaction in the classroom

Interview with Chris Slootweg

Could you tell something about this new course? (e.g. context and learning goals)
The course Green Chemistry was created for the new master Chemistry & Physics track Science for Energy and Sustainability as well as for the Master Science, Business & Innovation and therefore targets a multidisciplinary student population. The students learn to work in multidisciplinary teams and present and discuss all aspects of green chemistry from lab to market, such as the principles of green chemistry and green engineering, alternative feedstocks, biofuels, biodegradable and bio-based materials, economics of green and sustainable chemistry, sustainable chemical logistics, governance, policy, and sustainable management. In short, sustainable chemistry at the people, planet, profit level (triple bottom line).

In what way was this course blended? Why did you choose this approach?
To stimulate active learning and participation of all students in the course from day 1, I have applied the flipped classroom concept. The student teams all prepare one lecture (45min) based on the study material (multiple e-books) that is made available. In addition, all other teams prepare a master level exam question (incl subquestions and answers) where they apply the knowledge of the topic discussed in class. All the exam questions provide the students ample material to practice for the written exam. The presenting team is judging the quality of the exams (peer review + feedback). The second part of the class focusses on a case study connected to the topic of the lecture that is discussed in detail in class. Furthermore, the students write an 1 A4-page essay about a new concept, e.g. circular chemistry, or the chemical ladder of circularity.

Are you satisfied with the result? (e.g. design, learning activities, student participation)
Definitely. The student participation is high, the students learn a lot, and also (based on their feedback) enjoy the course very much.

How was the students’ experience?
The students appreciated that they were challenged from day 1 of the course and learned a lot.

What did you think of the process? Did you like creating a course in this way?
In order to flip a classroom you need to master the topic. If this is the case, this teaching format is really enjoyable and stimulates active learning tremendously.

Is there anything you learned that you would like to share with other teachers?
Flipping the classroom is a very interesting teaching concept that can even be applied in all courses of an entire bachelor’s/master’s degree.

Would you recommend this approach/design to other teachers?
YES. I definitely recommend other teachers to apply blended learning to their courses and pick the right educational tool that fits their course, target audience and personal teaching style.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Flipping the classroom is an adventure (freestyle teaching), and very enjoyable.