12/17/2015 Staff

High Honors for POGIL Pioneers

This magazine article is part of Fall 2015 / Issue 83
  • Professors of Chemistry James Spencer, left, Rick Moog and Frank Creegan, the W. Alton Jones Professor of Chemistry, emeritus, at Washington College. Professors of Chemistry James Spencer, left, Rick Moog and Frank Creegan, the W. Alton Jones Professor of Chemistry, emeritus, at Washington College. Image Credit: POGIL

Two Franklin & Marshall College professors of chemistry, Rick Moog and James Spencer, were recently honored for their commitment to a teaching style that emphasizes group learning, deep conceptual understanding, and the development of higher-order thinking skills. They are pioneers of POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning) and other guided-inquiry approaches in the classroom and laboratory.

Moog and Spencer are the first F&M professors to receive the James Flack Norris Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Teaching of Chemistry, presented by the Northeast Section of the American Chemical Society. They share the award with Frank Creegan, the W. Alton Jones Professor of Chemistry, emeritus, at Washington College. On the heels of the Norris Award, Moog learned that he would receive the American Chemical Society's 2016 George C. Pimentel Award in Chemical Education—the most prestigious honor in the field of chemistry that recognizes outstanding contributions to chemical education.

Moog, director of the POGIL Project on campus, and Spencer, who holds the College's William G. and Elizabeth R. Simeral Emeritus Professorship, began using guided inquiry in their teaching nearly two decades ago.

Among the many peers who nominated them for the 2015 Norris Award is Pratibha Varma-Nelson, chemistry professor and director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. "The work of Rick Moog, Jim Spencer and Frank Creegan has contributed greatly in transforming the way chemistry is taught in the U.S. and abroad," she said.

Moog joins Spencer and Conrad Stanitski, a visiting scholar in F&M's Department of Chemistry and former administrator at the College, as F&M recipients of the Pimentel Award.

"I am humbled to receive these awards on behalf of the POGIL Project and our entire community of outstanding educators," Moog said. "These honors recognize the foundational work that came before POGIL, the talented people involved with the project, and the revolutionary changes to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and student outcomes that have occurred as the result of our collective efforts." 

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