Promoting Significant Learning: A Case Study in Computational Chemistry

  • Ruben Dario Parra DePaul University
Keywords: Effective teaching, computational chemistry, course design, significant learning.


This paper describes various pedagogical efforts implemented to promote significant learning in a computational chemistry course. The taxonomy of significant learning advanced by Fink (2003) is used as a framework to discuss the results. In this taxonomy, Fink identifies six categories of learning: foundational, application, integration, human dimension, caring, and learning how to learn. Significant learning occurs when all six kinds of learning are promoted. In the computational chemistry course, the learning outcomes are aligned with these kinds of learning, and students are provided with learning activities to get them engaged with the course content. These activities purposefully activate students’ prior knowledge, increase their motivation, develop basic skills, apply and integrate what they learn in realistic situations, develop an appreciation for computational chemistry as an ally in science, and further their ability to work independently and with others, and to continue learning about the subject matter beyond the course.