Customizing the Course Experience to Meet the Most Rigorous Standards

Professor Lenny Vuocolo uses Aktiv Chemistry in his rigorous Modern Chemistry course to ask probing in-class questions and provide his students with extra practice

Lenny Vuocolo

Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University

Shapes TL

Share

Modern Chemistry

Higher education is often known for its rigorous standards and expectations of excellence. The tools used by instructors should meet the same bar. Lenny Vuocolo, an Associate Teaching Professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Chemistry department, understands the necessity for good technology in the classroom. “I think we’re at a stage where eliminating technology and these tools from the classroom is losing an opportunity that could be a good way for [students] to enhance their skills. It’s a must.” But finding the right tool to take advantage of that opportunity can sometimes be a struggle. For Lenny, the choice of which technology to incorporate in his Modern Chemistry course has been easy. In fact, the choice has been consistent for four years now. Lenny chooses Aktiv Chemistry.

“There’s not a lot of hurdles to overcome when using Aktiv Chemistry. It’s not clouded by a lot of other things. Other software platforms can be too complicated.”¹
lv
Lenny Vuocolo
Carnegie Mellon University

Aktiv Chemistry’s database of questions gives Lenny the ability to create assignments specifically geared toward his unique curriculum and syllabus. This extensive bank includes standard questions in addition to more difficult ones for instructors who wish to create more challenging problem sets. As an educator that focuses on depth, rather than breadth, of material, Lenny needed a platform that would allow him to dig deeper into particular chemistry concepts and not just skim the surface. “We really try to increase the use of these problems to help students master concepts and to understand better how to prepare well for exams – how to piece material together. So, we really make sure to try to give activities in-class to help them better master the concepts in the course and synthesize and put the information together.”

Bring your own content

Instructors that use Aktiv Chemistry benefit from the provided question bank but can also add their own content. The platform offers the capability for instructors to author their own questions, even providing a Smart Suggestion keyboard with superscripts, subscripts, symbols, and arrows to streamline the formatting of the authored questions with chemistry-specific items. For professors like Lenny who have question sets they’ve spent years developing, this feature can be a huge relief. “I loved that I could still use some of my own questions. I had some very key questions and we do cover some topics in very specific depth that wouldn’t be for the typical General Chemistry course. That interface and that ability to do that is so simple.”

authoring2
Aktiv Chemistry’s authoring tool uses a Smart Suggestion palette so its seamless and time efficient when writing chemistry-specific names, formulae, and equations

Less time, more learning

However, for Lenny, the ability to extract data on student performance from Aktiv Chemistry is a game-changing feature. “The ability to just extract your data and the grades, I really like that you have a percent completion grade, you have percent correct grade. You can get quite a bit of information and data very quickly and easily. I really appreciate that.”

 
“The fact that we can communicate directly with [Aktiv Chemistry] is amazing. That you don’t have some unknown or not committed staff that bigger companies have, I think that is key because I’ve run into problems with bigger companies. The customer service that [Aktiv Chemistry] provides is amazing”¹

For Lenny and his students, the personalized and efficient customer service they receive from Aktiv Chemistry’s staff is unmatched. “The fact that we can communicate directly with [Aktiv Chemistry] is amazing. That you don’t have some unknown or not committed staff that bigger companies have, I think that is key because I’ve run into problems with bigger companies. The customer service that [Aktiv Chemistry] provides is amazing. There is easy support if you do have a glitch or you don’t know what you’re doing.”¹ When the stakes are high, it is useful to have a company on your side to get you up and running as quickly as possible.

cmu_class (1)
Lenny Vuocolo sends out an in-class activity to his Modern Chemistry students at Carnegie Mellon University

Above all else, Lenny highlights Aktiv Chemistry’s ease of use. With so many other hassles of administering courses, Aktiv Chemistry users don’t have to worry about a learning curve. “There’s not a lot of hurdles to overcome when using Aktiv Chemistry. It’s not clouded by a lot of other things. Other software platforms can be too complicated.”¹ All instructors and students deserve to work with technology that is intuitive, encourages growth, and supports its users. Aktiv Chemistry is proud to be there for Lenny and the faculty that use the platform at hundreds of colleges and universities

We’d love to be there for you, too!

¹ This page may contain direct quotes that were provided at a time where Aktiv Chemistry was named Chem101. We have replaced the name Chem101 with Aktiv Chemistry to minimize confusion.

About the Faculty

Lenny Vuocolo is an Associate Teaching Professor at Carnegie Mellon University in the Department of Chemistry. In the department, he teaches introductory level chemistry courses for a broad range of students, including science and engineering majors. Lenny specializes in the implementation of green chemistry and bioinorganic chemistry in the undergraduate curriculum at Carnegie Mellon.

Lenny Vuocolo

Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University

More Success Stories

Professors from over 600 colleges and universities use Aktiv Chemistry to engage students inside and outside of the classroom. Learn how some of them have transformed their courses.

Screen Shot 2022-05-26 at 11.15.34 AM

Aktiv at Scale: Two Instructors Bring Active Learning to a Premier Chemistry Department

Cathy Serrano Lugo and Dan Collins have adopted Aktiv Chemistry in their Organic Chemistry courses to improve student outcomes.

Cathy Serrano Lugo & Dan Collins

Chemistry Faculty, Department of Chemistry, Texas A&M University

Screen-Shot-2022-02-01-at-4.19.33-PM

Your Course, Your Way: Thanks to an Innovative Organic Chemistry Learning Platform

Professor Michael Garoutte uses Aktiv Chemistry to engage students in his specially-designed Organic Chemistry course sequence.

Michael Garoutte

Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, Missouri Southern State University

student-video-play-final-comp

Student Impacts: Fall in Love with Chemistry

Students using Aktiv Chemistry overwhelmingly report a positive learning experience that improved their understanding and interest in chemistry.

Aktiv Learning