Department of Chemistry
A headshot

Lawrence Brown
Instructional Assistant Professor

Department of Chemistry
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-3255

P: 979-845-3755
F: 979-845-4719
brown@chem.tamu.edu

Researcher ID

Web Sites Areas of Interest
  • Chemical Education

Current Activities

My activities include teaching (general and physical chemistry), coordination of CHEM 107, and research in chemical education. Current efforts are in: (i) continued development of the CHEM 107 curriculum, (ii) improving uses of technology in chemical education, and (iii) incorporation of active learning strategies into large classroom settings. These efforts are brought together in my involvement with the Foundation Coalition, an NSF-supported effort to implement a new model for the education of engineering students.

CHEM 107 has been designed to provide an introduction to chemistry for engineering students. Chemistry and engineering faculty have re-examined the premises on why these students are required to study chemistry. The course provides a basic understanding of chemical principles and an appreciation of how molecular-level phenomena can influence macroscopic properties. Laboratory experiments focus on the measurement of physical properties and how these are related to chemical composition and structure; data are acquired using computer-interfaced probes, facilitating mathematical analysis and modeling of results.

Advances in computer technology provide new tools for chemical education. We use multimedia presentations in class, but much of the material used remains text-based. We are working to develop new materials which rely on animation and interactive features. Several "visualization modules" have been completed. Another use of computer technology is the CAPA electronic homework system: CAPA prepares individualized assignments with each student submitting answers to a host computer over the campus network.

Active learning techniques offer a more effective classroom experience than traditional lectures. But implementation of these strategies in a large class is difficult. In the Foundation Coalition, we have succeeded in bringing extensive use of active learning into a class of 100 students. I am starting to employ the same methods in classes as large as 300.

Educational Background

Ph. D., Princeton University

Awards & Recognition

  • Coordinator, CHEM 107
  • Member, Foundation Coalition

Selected Publications

  • "Freshman Chemistry at TAMU: Limitations, Challenges and Horizons." Workshop on Freshman Chemistry, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. January 1995.
  • "Active Learning for Large Enrollment Classes." Regional Chemical Education Conference, University of Arkansas, Little Rock, AR. October 1995.
  • "Computer Based Testing: Why and How." American Chemical Society National Meeting, New Orleans, LA. March 1996.
  • "Innovations in General Chemistry at Texas A&M University." Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC. July 1996.
  • "Computer Assisted Personalized Homework Assignments in a Large General Chemistry Class." 14th Biennial Conference on Chemical Education, Clemson, SC. August 1996.