Signposts of teaching expertise have been mapped through workshops and interviews with expert chemistry teachers. The first step to teach chemistry effectively requires an understanding of our students’ backgrounds and what they are doing with their time. We have correlated prior knowledge in chemistry and mathematics, and student engagement, with success in a large foundational chemistry unit, and tracked students into their second semester. Multiple measures of engagement are associated with success, including participation in in-class polling, attendance at tutorials and working fewer hours. Moving all aspects of teaching and assessment online resulted in remarkably few changes to the importance of these measures, with two exceptions – students performed better when tutorials were offered face to face, and an online practical using video recordings resulted in lower student scores.
The interactive presentation will include a description of, and applications of, cognitive load theory to teaching chemistry. It will also introduce a new approach to contextualising chemistry content through the molecular basis of sustainability.