Missouri S&T researcher to present at Higher Learning Commission conference

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On April 12, 2016

Klaus WoelkDr. Klaus Woelk, associate professor of chemistry at Missouri University of Science and Technology, has been selected to share his blended laboratory teaching techniques at the Higher Learning Commission Annual Conference.

At the conference, which will be held April 15-19 in Chicago, Woelk will present a teaching and learning session titled “Expand Student Science Lab Access Through Blended Learning.” The lecture will discuss how Missouri S&T expanded chemistry laboratory access by introducing a blended-lab experience. Woelk will present the session along with Rachel Dillon, vice president of sales for eScience Labs, and Shayna Burchett a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry at Missouri S&T.

“Our blended labs are all hands-on, they combine authentic activities in traditional chemistry laboratory settings with experiential activities completed in common areas on campus, or beyond,” says Woelk. “Students value activities in the laboratory for their interactions with peers and instructors, and activities in the common areas for the possibility to explore chemical phenomena on their own.”

As a result of the blended-lab redesign efforts, enrollment capacity has increased and student engagement and motivation has improved.

It is not the first major course redesign project Woelk has helped to develop. He redesigned introductory-level chemistry at Missouri S&T by offering several face-to-face and online options, introducing discussion boards, student response devices, online testing and homework, and the ability to communicate with the instructor through text messaging during class.

“Students who may be too intimidated to ask questions in a public setting can now communicate anonymously and still be heard,” says Woelk. “Whether the student is in the classroom or in their dorm, they can still be a part of the discussion and collaborate with others.”

Woelk joined the Missouri S&T faculty in 2003. He has served as interim chair of chemistry and is currently associate chair of the department. He earned bachelor of science, master of science and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry from the University of Bonn in Germany in 1984, 1988 and 1991, respectively. In 2011, Woelk won the University of Missouri System President’s Award for Innovative Teaching for his unique approaches to redesigning large enrollment courses with technology-supported active learning strategies. His research specializations include physical chemistry, NMR spectroscopy and bio-based liquid fuel properties.

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