THE “FUNDAMENTAL CHEMISTRY 1” COURSE AT THE DEGREE OF CHEMISTRY: LEARNING AND CONTINUOUS EVALUATION METHODOLOGIES AS TOOLS FOR ENCOURAGING AUTONOMOUS STUDY
The first semester of University studies is of paramount importance in the adaptation of students to their new environment. The degree of success in this adaptation has implications for their academic progression that often extend well beyond the first semester. In the case of the Chemistry Grade, the future chemists will not achieve an acceptable level of knowledge about the fundamentals of Chemistry if they do not acquire previously the correct habits of study, as well as a rigor, in the first semester of their studies.
The acquisition and consolidation of correct habits of study since the beginning of the academic career requires a right combination of motivation and demand, as well as the final reward to the effort made by the students. In this context, the implementation of undergraduate studies according to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) has allowed changes in the teaching methodology and evaluation in order to improve the academic performance of students. The introduction of the continuous evaluation has been shown to be a good incentive for students, in such a way that they are pushed to study continuously throughout the semester, improving at the end their academic performance. To achieve these objectives the adopted learning and evaluation methodologies are fundamental.
The present communication describes the results obtained in the course Fundamental Chemistry 1 as a consequence of the learning and the continuous evaluation methodologies implemented. Concerning to the learning methodologies used, the discussion is focused on the usefulness of theoretical lectures and problem resolution seminaries, the ability to understand and to study directly from the textbook the topics of the course, or the use of internet resources. Other aspects such as distribution of the students’ time between the different activities are also considered. Finally, we evaluate the impact of a new learning methodology used for the first time in this course, consisting of solving in the classroom exercises related to definite concepts about Fundamental Chemistry 1 previously prepared by the students. Related to the continuous evaluation methodology, the suitability of performing end-of-block tests together with a final test, as well as the contribution of these tests in the final score of the course is discussed.