2016-17 Morse-Alumni Undergraduate Teaching Award Winner
It’s no wonder Michelle Driessen enjoys such good chemistry with students. She developed an online course for more than 1,000 students in introductory chemistry, resulting in better service and more flexibility for the students, and co-wrote a textbook and digital materials to accompany it.
When, as director of general chemistry, she observed students struggling with traditional labs that did little to encourage real thinking or creativity, she turned the labs into places where teams of students are given problems to solve according to procedures they decide on. It was a rousing success, thanks also to the extensive training Driessen planned and implemented for the course-teaching assistants.
“There is nothing more satisfying than taking a room full of students from wide-eyed panic to relaxed understanding. I seemed to have a knack for distilling complicated concepts down to digestible nuggets.”--MIchelle D. Driessen
To further ease students out of “passive mode,” Driessen developed hybrid sections of general chemistry that provide core information online, freeing class time for more engaging problem-solving activities. She also began a program of peer-led workshops for students who needed extra support, implemented a new chemistry placement exam, and helped create a Chemistry for the Life Sciences curriculum to better serve the chemistry needs of students in the biological sciences.
She has mentored many students who hope to teach high school chemistry and seek experience developing modern laboratory materials.
“Professor Driessen’s teaching style is what I hope to have for the remainder of my college career,” writes a former student. “She challenged her students, but also created opportunities for us to be successful.”