Many engineering students enter and exit general chemistry courses with little appreciation of chemistry's relevance to other fields. At WPI many of these students go on to take introductory materials science and arrive with poor attitudes about chemistry and little retention of key concepts, but then become more engaged as they discover connections to engineering applications. Consequently, instructors in chemistry and mechanical engineering collaborated to augment general chemistry laboratories with explicit “bridges” to material properties and applications. Evaluation results showed that while students' attitudes toward chemistry were unaffected by bridging, particular aspects of the students' lab experience were enhanced to a statistically significant degree. Similar cross-disciplinary collaborations might be considered elsewhere as a means of helping students find meaning and integrate subject matter, in a manner that is more feasible than large-scale course or curriculum restructuring.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/chrysanthe_demetry/3/