Wegner develped a way for teachers to monitor students'
January 16. 2007 :: No. 110
Remember when some of the questions in high school chemistry
class quizzes started to look alike, but if you memorized
enough material in the book, you could give the answer?
Not with the software and online program developed by Patrick
Wegner, emeritus professor of chemistry and biochemistry
at Cal State Fullerton. Wegner will be honored Thursday by
the Orange County Section of the American Chemical Society
(ACS) for his program.
The Orange County Section is one of 189 nationally of the
more than 158,000-member ACS. Its Bennett Award recognizes
individuals who make major contributions to chemistry, including
in education and in fields integrally affected by chemistry.
Wegner’s program is in use in the Anaheim Union High
School District, at Fullerton College, Coastline College
and UC Irvine by about 6,000 students, with more to come.
John Wiley Books has just purchased the program. The publishing
firm offers a number of educational materials.
“The program, which is accessible to students and instructors online,
uses variables to give each student accessing it a different question, and
each question must be solved; there is no memorized answer. So, each student
must do his or her homework, and each student must think it through,” Wegner
“But, there is a second component to it that is just as valuable,” he
said. “The materials devised for this take the students through detailed
examples of chemical processes. It helps them understand
what a line drawing of a molecule or a chemical reaction in a textbook really
An example he offers is the line drawing for sodium chloride
[table salt], which makes it look like a solid molecule.
But, in water, it is a sodium ion and a chloride ion. “Chemists
need to visualize it properly. Chemistry has a set of skills
you learn, a set of processes you must go through. This helps
them to do both,” Wegner said.
To Richard Deming, a CSUF colleague of Wegner’s and
the one who will make the introductions at the Bennett Award
ceremony, there is another, to him, possibly even more valuable
aspect to Wegner’s program: “The professor or
teacher can see how well the student is doing, because it’s
right there, the way the student answers when using this.
We can see how long it took to answer the question, how the
student solved it. That gives a good picture of how the student
is doing and where he or she may have trouble. Then the teacher
can customize an approach to help the student.”
a Fullerton resident, earned his Ph.D. at UC Riverside and joined the Cal State
Fullerton faculty in 1969. His award will be presented during a 7:45 p.m. ceremony
Thursday at the DoubleTree Club Hotel at 7 Hutton Centre Drive in Santa Ana.
Patrick Wegner, Chemistry and Biochemistry, at 657-278-2672
Hudson, Public Affairs, 657-278-4007 or email@example.com
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