POGIL to Success in Chemistry

Nancy Caukin

This ITQ project will provide professional development (PD) for chemistry and physical science teachers in Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL, Farrell, Moog & Spencer, 1999). POGIL has been used effectively to improve learning and interest in science at the college level (Farrell, Moog & Spencer, 1999; Moog & Spencer, 2008) and high school level (Barthlow & Watson, 2014; Trout, Padwa & Hanson, 2008). POGIL supports the preponderance of research evidence that all students learn best and experience higher interest when doing science like scientists, especially underrepresented, disadvantaged and first-generation students (Haak, Hillerislambers, Pitre, & Freeman, 2011; Lorenzo, Crouch, & Mazur, 2006).

Partners include the College of Education at MTSU, the College of Basic and Applied Sciences at MTSU, four high-need LEAs (Cannon County, Coffee County, Metro Nashville Public Schools, and Tullahoma City), The National POGIL Project, and the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub. The project will serve teachers from other districts as well (25 teachers in all with a focus on chemistry). Beyond the four high-need partners, teachers from the Middle TN STEM Innovation Hub will receive priority. The PD, provided by the National POGIL Project, will engage teachers in 15 strategically selected POGIL activities where the teachers play the role of “students,” working in small teams (4-5 per team) to solve problems related to chemistry. Teachers will experience the POGIL pedagogy as students and will play various roles in their groups across the five days of PD. At various points, teachers will play the role of “facilitator” with their fellow teachers as “students.” Through these experiences, teachers will learn both content and pedagogy including questioning techniques, group dynamics, problem solving techniques, how to get students to think about chemistry, and many other active learning techniques. Two of the five days will occur during the academic calendar, one in spring 2016 (Friday March 11) and one in fall 2016 (to be determined). The other three days will occur in summer 2016 (June 13-15). Each day teachers will spend 7 hours and 30 minutes immersed in the POGIL pedagogy with a nationally certified POGIL facilitator. For their participation, teachers will receive a stipend of $100 per day plus mileage. Hotel and food will be provided for a few teachers who live further than 50 miles from Murfreesboro. The TN STEM Education Center at MTSU will provide morning and afternoon snacks for teachers. ITQ funding is provided for a working lunch to allow a greater focus on TEAM components.

Teachers will complete a pre- and post-content test, a pre- and post-attitude toward active learning survey, and a qualitative post-survey to learn what they liked and did not like about the PD. They will form a community of POGIL teachers who can lean on each other after the project has ended. The professional development will be held at MTSU. A reference list is provided on the next page.


Barthlow, M. J. and Watson, S. B. (2014). The Effectiveness of Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning to Reduce Alternative Conceptions in Secondary Chemistry. School Science and Mathematics, 114(5), 246-255.

Farrell, J. J., Moog, R. S., & Spencer, J. N. (1999). A Guided Inquiry General Chemistry Course. J. Chem. Educ., 76, 570-574.

Haak, D. C., Hillerislambers, J., Pitre, E., & Freeman, S. (2011). Increased Structure and Active Learning Reduce the Achievement Gap in Introductory Biology. Science, 332(6034), 1213-1216.

Lorenzo, M., Crouch, C. H., & Mazur, E. (2006). Reducing the gender gap in the physics classroom. Am. J. Phys., 74, 118-122.

Moog, R. S. and Spencer, J. N. (2008). Editors of Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL). American Chemical Society Publications. Washington, DC.

Trout, L., Padwa, L., & Hanson, D. (2008). POGIL in the High School Chemistry Classroom. In Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) edited by Moog, R. S. & Spencer, J. N. American Chemical Society.