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Tricks to engage students with learning


Developing my students' education
Norman Greenwood Scientist
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Whilst, as I said, we were certainly training professional chemists and they knew really quite a lot about the chemistry of the elements, which is my particular interest, and other aspects of physical chemistry and organic chemistry, they knew more than that. They had a background appreciation of why we were doing the chemistry, what the situation was in the current climate that we were in, in the civilisation, if you like, that we were living in and the place of chemistry in that. And to get them to think about it, I gave over some of the practical period time to writing extended essays. It’s perhaps not unlike the technique in Oxford and Cambridge, where a student will be asked to prepare an essay on a particular subject, particularly in Oxford where you’d read it to the tutor and have a discussion on it, and depending on the quality of the student and, particularly on the quality of the supervisor, you’ll get a good discussion and the student would learn something from this. And sometimes, perhaps, in the best possible cases, as with Longuet Higgins and Ronnie Bell, you’d get a new theory coming from that in the boron hydrides that I was mentioning.

Norman Greenwood (1925-2012) was born in Australia and graduated from Melbourne University before going to Cambridge. His wide-ranging research in inorganic and structural chemistry made major advances in the chemistry of boron hydrides and other main-group element compounds. He also pioneered the application of Mössbauer spectroscopy to problems in chemistry. He was a prolific writer and inspirational lecturer on chemical and educational themes, and held numerous visiting professorships throughout the world.

Listeners: Brian Johnson

Professor Brian FG Johnson FRS, FRSE, FRS Chem, FAcad Eu, FAS. Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Edinburgh 1991-1995, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Cambridge 1995-2005, Master Fitzwilliam College Cambridge 1999-2005. Research interests include studies of transition metal carbonyls, organometallic chemistry, nano- particles and homogeneous catalysis. Professor Johnson is the author of over 1000 research articles and papers.

Tags: Oxford University, Christopher Longuet-Higgins, Ronald Percy Bell

Duration: 1 minute, 28 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2011

Date story went live: 25 November 2011