MULTIDISCIPLINARY WITHIN THE AREAS OF CHEMISTRY AS A WAY TO IMPROVE LEARNING OF UNDERGRADUATES IN THEIR FINAL DEGREE THESIS
Universidad del País Vasco (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 15th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2023
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:Interdisciplinary projects are interesting options to improve both motivation and learning of students during their final degree thesis. However, we often try to find highly demanding interdisciplinary contexts between very distant disciplines. Among chemistry students, low-performance students, as measured by course grades, may feel overwhelmed and frustrated when trying to address the learning and technical demands of other disciplines. This could result in a negative experience rather than motivational one. In this context, it has been observed that interdisciplinary work within the different areas of knowledge of chemistry can be a good approach. With this objective, professors from different areas (Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Polymer Chemistry...) have developed various multidisciplinary projects. The projects under this initiative must try to combine the specific knowledge of both areas, always maintaining a balance between them. Students have two directors of the Final Degree Project, each of them from a different area of knowledge of chemistry. The supervisors should guide the students in their expertise area; usually they provide deeper learning and more interesting approach than a single supervisor does. This allows the integration and application of knowledge from different disciplines of chemistry, which leads to an improvement in transversal skills such as: critical thinking or autonomy. Therefore, this kind of projects provides students with the opportunity to achieve a broad general chemistry knowledge and the ability to relate several chemistry areas. For instance, the combination of physical chemistry, in this case polymer chemistry, and inorganic chemistry or organic chemistry has given very satisfactory results. Considering the obtained results, multidisciplinary undergraduate theses can serve as a bridge between various fields of knowledge, offering chemistry students opportunities to overcome frustration and the ability to communicate ideas between these fields. Indeed, students with a final degree project in which they have worked in at least two areas of chemistry have not only developed better understanding and improved learning, but also are more motivated to continue their studies in a master's degree and even in a doctorate, in addition to improving some of their soft skills.
Keywords: Multidisciplinary, Chemistry, Undergraduates.