Every student who registers for Chemistry 105 must register for a lecture section that meets MWF, as well as a recitation subsection that meets on Thursdays. You will find information below to help you choose which style of recitation might be best for you. Even though all recitations cover essentially the same material and example problems, there will be two different formats offered. You should choose the recitation format that you feel best suits your approach to learning and perceived level of preparedness for Chemistry 105.
Classic (regular) format: These recitation sections are 1 hour in length. The format includes a quiz during the first 15 minutes of class. Following the quiz, a brief summary of the week’s main lecture topics is presented and challenging practice problems are worked for the remainder of the class period. A trained graduate Assistant in Instruction (AI) leads this problem-solving session.
POGIL (guided-inquiry) recitations: These recitation sections are 1.5 hours (30 minutes longer than the regular recitation sections). This format also includes a quiz during the first 15 minutes of class. Following this quiz, and a brief summary of the week’s topic by the graduate AI, students will work in small, structured groups on guided-inquiry problem sheets that have been written specifically for Washington University Chemistry 105 topics. These problem sheets are designed to help develop self-teaching and problem-solving skills, as well as to call attention to crucial concepts discussed in lecture through exploration and analysis of challenging example problems.
The custom-designed exercises and selection of problems include an emphasis on conceptual aspects of the topic. This format is designed to help you gain a deeper understanding of the concepts underlying problems.
Comparison of Regular and POGIL Recitations
Although both regular and POGIL recitations cover the same topics with the same practice problems in every weekly session, POGIL worksheets break down each problem into several guiding questions to lead students to think through the concepts and solve the problem in a stepwise manner.
Example Problem for a Specific Topic: Lewis Structure
Problem: Draw the most-preferred Lewis structure for the neutral molecule HOCO2H. Record the total number of valence electrons on the line indicated. Label all non-zero formal charges directly on each atom.
In a regular recitation, after a brief review of the topic “Lewis Structures,” this problem would be presented as written. Students would then be asked to work the problem either individually or with other peers. The AI would circulate around the room to answer any questions while students first attempt the problem. Finally, the AI reviews the problem on the board and shares the correct answer to ensure understanding.
In a POGIL recitation, the worksheet addresses the same problem in a stepwise manner as shown below:
- Count the number of valence electrons contributed by all atoms in the molecule. Record your answer.
- Establish atomic connectivity.
- Connect adjacent atoms with electron-pair bonds.
- Add lone pairs to complete octets on the outer atoms.
- Which of the following drawings show(s) acceptable placement of lone pairs and/or remaining electrons? (Given several options.)
- Add any remaining electrons as multiple bonds or lone pairs on the central atom.
- “Push” electrons to obtain octets, if possible.
- How would you “push” electrons from the answer you chose in step 4, in order to obtain a complete octet for all atoms (except H)? Draw arrows to show how electrons are pushed and draw the final structure.
- Determine formal charges.
As you can see, in both recitation sections students ultimately draw the Lewis structure of HOCO2H.
However, when answering the POGIL guiding questions, students are prompted to address key concepts involved in the problem and guided through the problem-solving process. The group work format provides a structured environment for students to discuss with their peers. By articulating their opinions and communicating with peers using scientific language, the students’ understanding of certain concepts becomes polished. In general, students’ confidence and communication skills are strengthened through practice and discussion of the problems.
Choosing the Best Recitation Style for You
Research studies show that the POGIL-style recitation is beneficial for most first-year students, especially in the early times of developing self-teaching, self-learning, and problem-solving skills. To decide whether a regular or POGIL recitation will benefit YOU the most, consider the following questions:
- Do you think you would benefit more from spending 30 minutes longer in recitation every week?
- Do you think you would benefit more from a guided approach to the problem-solving process?
- Do you think exchanging ideas with your peers in a structured environment would help solidify your understanding of a topic?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, then the POGIL-style recitation is recommended for you.
If your answer to one or more of these questions is no, you may want to consider enrollment in a regular recitation. No matter what style you choose, everyone has access to the same information. All students are encouraged to check out the POGIL worksheets, which are available through the course webpage at the end of each week.