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Science Students Gain Learning Advantage Thanks to NECC Annual Fund

Submitted by on July 8, 2011 – 11:09 am

NECC science professor Michael Cross had a simple solution to a complex problem, and because of funding from a NECC Annual Fund Program Grant, he was able to implement the idea which resulted in a significant increase in student comprehension. “The words ‘dimensional analysis’ strike fear into the heart of the average chemistry student, yet the ability to quickly convert one unit to another is critical, not only in chemistry, but in the health professions and other fields,” he says. Professor Cross developed a simplified method to teach this process using dominoes.

With $300 awarded him from the NECC Annual Fund Program Grant, he purchased the dominoes and customized the reverse sides with chemistry symbols. The students use the symbols on the dominoes to set up a problem, and then flip the dominoes in order to see the conversion factors and calculate the answer.

“It’s fun, easy, and it really works,” he says. “I typically give a rather complicated conversion problem as part of my first exam, which only 40% of students usually complete. Now that I use the dominoes, over 75% of the students are able to correctly work the problem.”

In addition to funding much-needed scholarships, the NECC Annual Fund provides program grants for faculty and staff which enrich classroom learning and provide students with hands-on learning tools and experiential learning opportunities.