Especially JCE—December 2015

Dec 2015 JCE

Think it’s possible to get nostalgic over paperwork? I just did, spurred by editor-in-chief Norb Pienta’s editorial Thinking about Champions in the December 2015 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education.

Pienta’s mention of an author clicking the “submit” button brought back memories of the submission method from earlier in the Journal’s history. Through the mail, waves of paper would roll in and out of Journal House in Madison, Wisconsin. Authors sent multiple paper copies of their submissions to JCE, with these copies then being sent to reviewers. The ranks of labeled manila folders of manuscripts moved from review to revision or acceptance to staff who dealt with graphics, copyediting, and layout. The submission process is now online, with reviews handled through email communication. Although the paperwork of submissions has gone fully electronic, the “championship team” that Pienta describes—those who write, review, read, and support JCE—remains critical to the process. If you haven’t reviewed for JCE before, I strongly encourage you get involved. Seeing a manuscript from a reviewer’s point of view provides insight into the submission process. Reviewers have a chance to provide constructive comments that can help make a paper even better. It is also an excellent way to give back to the chemical education community. For those who already review, what are some reasons that you do?

Laboratory skills also go electronic, in The Digital Pipetting Badge: A Method To Improve Student Hands-On Laboratory Skills. Undergraduate students demonstrated their competence in pipetting not by directly showing an instructor, but rather by shooting a brief video using a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Videos were uploaded for graders to view and assess using a rubric. Students received electronic feedback, and in some cases, graders identified students who could benefit from one-on-one coaching in the lab. An instructor could assess individual skills in a lab, but flipped in a way. One benefit the authors share is in “relieving the time constraints that prevent the instructors from evaluating each student within the laboratory period.” The foundation is laid by first determining “core questions and constructs: what are the knowledge, skills, and attitudes connected to the undergraduate chemistry laboratory that should be assessed, and what tasks would allow a student to demonstrate those constructs?” The word “undergraduate” could be replaced with “high school.” Which skills do students use multiple times in a high school laboratory? Are there skills that are particularly difficult to learn? Which skills would benefit a student who goes on to a lab course at the college level?

Both articles mentioned above are available to JCE subscribers as well as non-subscribers. Pienta’s editorial is available through sponsored access, while the article by Towns, et al. is an open access article through ACS AuthorChoice and is also featured on the December 2015 cover. For the entire issue, see Mary Saecker’s JCE 92.12—December Issue Highlights.

Please collaborate!

If you see an article that sparks your interest in this month’s issue or any article in the “Articles ASAP (As Soon AS Publishable)” tab on the JCE home page, please share your thoughts. Contributors can submit an article or a “Pick” or even simply comment on this post. Submit a request to contribute, explaining you’d like to contribute to the Especially JCE column. Questions? Contact us using the XChange’s contact form.