Fostering Small Group Discussion in an Online Instrumental Analysis Course using Google Docs
In recent years there has been a strong case made for the improved learning outcomes that come with the use of active learning environments such as those involving flipped or POGIL models within in-person classrooms. A cornerstone of these classrooms lies in the use of small group discussion facilitated by the instructor or teaching assistants. These discussions allow students to explore material using critical reasoning and scaffolded questions to build to high order thinking. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many classrooms were forced to immediately move to remote learning models in Spring 2020. Many of these courses were further reimagined into fully online designs for Fall 2020 and beyond. While there are many technological tools available, this activity presents a method for leveraging the collaborative nature of the Google Doc platform for fostering discussions among students. This method is presented in the context of a largely asynchronous Instrumental Analysis course for chemistry and forensic science students. The advantages and disadvantages of this method are presented specifically in the realms of student engagement and soft skill development. The robustness of this method in how it could be utilized in other teaching environments such as synchronous or hybrid courses is also discussed.