Sunday, February 04, 2007

Science Literacy

I've been doing some thinking lately about the kinds of learning that are taking place for me, especially this semester as I'm pursuing a general chemistry class for the first time. I've discovered that -- though I am usually a quick study -- chemistry takes much longer for me to get comfortable with, to digest to the point that I don't feel hesitant about my ability to answer particular questions. That plays very much on the affect, as I am usually easily frustrated when learning information and skills doesn't come quickly. I'm learning, as a result, to allow myself plenty of time to master even what might seem to others as the simplest of problems.

Take balancing chemical equations, for example. I began working problems from the textbook, as preparation for the exam, but found that I wasn't sure about how to proceed, even after hearing how to do it in lecture and reading about it in the textbook. I decided that I needed some simpler problems to work, so that I could work my way up to the slightly more complex ones in the textbook. So I got online and found some sample problems -- really, they were designed for a high school chemistry class -- and spent an hour or so working those. I also read a couple of different sets of directions for balancing chemical equations. After this practice, I went back to the problems in the textbook and found them quite easy. I also found that, along the way, I had developed my own preferred method of balancing equations -- a mixture of suggestions from various sources along with my own twist.

I hope that I can remember this experience and be patient with myself in future. The reality is that I'm probably going to be spending much more time studying for this course than I have for any other. Except perhaps my first qualitative research course, when I had to read and re-read and re-read in order to understand the theoretical frameworks that were presented in that course.

Luckily, I'm pretty serious about being successful in this endeavor. I'm going to need every bit of luck and hard work I can get my hands on.

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