Introductory "Gateway" Courses

Student learning in introductory courses has been hampered because of the large enrollments in the lecture and laboratory sections and the breadth of first-year students╣ abilities and background. These gateway courses are foundations for the major and they should introduce students early to research, to analytical thinking and problem-solving, to developing inquisitiveness that leads to life-long inquiry; and to collaboration. We are working to enhance student scientific literacy by developing more discovery-based laboratory exercises for introductory courses. We are taking advantage of the anticipated shift in course sizes due to the increased number and availability of distributional courses by offering smaller laboratory sections in gateway courses.


The physics faculty redesigned the second semester of introductory physics, teaching it in discussion-oriented smaller sections, and creating additional problem-solving and hands-on intensive workshops. These changes enable the faculty to introduce active-learning approaches that are currently not feasible with the larger unified section.


Science faculty believe that a strong knowledge of statistics is needed for most experimental design and data analysis. New approaches to the first-year statistics course is planned. The revised course will support student research projects campus-wide.


The new distributional course, Biodiversity, will lower enrollments in the introductory biology course in the fall each year. The smaller, upgraded laboratories in Introductory Biology will develop student scientific literacy and will offer discovery-based learning, more reading of scientific literature, more project-based data collection, and more statistical analyses. The proposed coordination of courses is strategically designed to increase pedagogical effectiveness. We anticipate that the increased availability of laboratory-based distributional classes will reduce enrollment pressure on the introductory gateway courses.


The introductory Chemistry class (CH141) was divided into three sections to enable better student-faculty interaction. AIRE funds were used to develop two new "discovery -based" general chemistry labs. The labs are used both in CH142 and CH145. You may download the labs in PDF format:

Laboratory 1

Laboratory 2

Return to Curricular Initiatives