Linda P

It might help to directly answer the chemistry professor's question first.
That he even asked you for help shows his concern--unless he was just griping.

You imply any number of reasons why students aren't going deeply enough into
the subject.  What happens in my experience is that the instructor is simply
assigning so much reading and homework the students can't or won't keep up
with it.  They can't plunge deeply into something they have read only
superficially at best.

Your chemistry professor might start by estimating how much time he thinks
students should spend each week on his course.  Perhaps he will conclude
that he can't cover so much ground if he expects indepth learning on each of
his topic areas.  Obviously, if he uses himself as a model of how much
students can absorb of chemistry in a week, he'll be way off.  He'd have to
try to estimate how long it would take him to learn something brand new to
him in chemistry.

I think the best way to encourage students to plunge deeply into something
is to make sure tests and other graded written assignments expect students
to do so.   His homework now may consist only of problems.  He might want to
consider other kinds of questions that delve into the information at the
level he expects.  Of course he has to grade the responses in some
meaningful way or most of the students won't do the work.

If he is already doing these things, his expectations are too high.  Only
some students have the interest in a subject to cause them to think deeply
about it.  The other students have other priorities.  They tend to be taking
too many classes and working too many hours to do justice to each of their

Linda J

Linda L. Johnson
Kirkwood Community College
Iowa City Center
Iowa City, IA 52245

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