Walter E. Harris Workshop: Real Work Is Better Than Homework

The 2015 Walter E. Harris Workshop: Real Work Is Better Than Homework will be held in CAB 265 of the University of Alberta on May 14, 2015 from 3 - 4 pm.

Brian P. Coppola
Arthur F. Thurnau Professor
Associate Chair, Educational Development and Practice

Professor of Chemistry
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
University of Michigan

Real Work Is Better Than Homework
Abstract: Real (or authentic) work has purpose, is defined by its own results, considers its audience, involves editing and feedback, often involves collaboration, and results in constructed meaning and a polished product. In the academic world, a research publication is an excellent example of real work. We have generalized the concept of "real work" and developed a set of instructional design principles that we think anyone can use to move academic assignments from the realm of homework to that of real work. In this presentation, I will provide an overview of these real work principles, provide numerous examples of these in the area of organic chemistry, and include, perhaps most importantly, the mechanism we use to enable faculty to pursue their instructional development ideas.

Leading references (available at

Coppola, B. P. "Do Real Work, Not Homework" In, Garcia-Martinez, J.; SerranoTorregrosa, E., Eds. Chemistry Education: Best Practices, Opportunities and Trends. Weinheim, Germany: Wiley-VCH, 2015;pp. 203-257.

Coppola, B. P. "Advancing STEM teaching and learning with research teams" In Baldwin, R., Ed. "Improving the Climate for Undergraduate Teaching and Learning in STEM Fields" New Directions in Teaching and Learning (No. 117) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass; 2009; pp. 33-44.

Dr. Brian P. Coppola is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Chemistry at the University of Michigan. He currently serves as the department's Associate Chair for Educational Development and Practice, and also as the Associate Director for the University of Michigan-Peking University Joint Institute, in Beijing, China.

Dr. Coppola received his B.S. degree in 1978 from the University of New Hampshire and his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1984. Moving to Ann Arbor in 1986, he joined an active group of faculty in the design and implementation of a revised undergraduate chemistry curriculum. His 1996-7 tenure review established a new policy within the College of Literature, Science and Arts at the University of Michigan, recognizing discipline-centered teaching and learning as an area that can be represented within the LSA departments. He was promoted to Full Professor of Chemistry in 2001-2. His publications range from mechanistic organic chemistry research in 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reactions to educational philosophy, practice and assessment.

From 2002-12, Professor Coppola served as the department's fifth Associate Chair for Curriculum and Faculty Affairs, and in 2012 he was appointed as the first Associate Chair for Educational Development and Practice. In this capacity, he is primarily responsible for directing of the department's future faculty program, in which undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-doctoral associates work with faculty members on teaching and learning projects within the department's curriculum (see:

In 1994, Dr. Coppola received the 4th campus-wide "Golden Apple Award" for outstanding teaching, a recognition organized and administered solely by undergraduate students. In 1996, he was awarded a United States Department of Energy, Undergraduate Computational Science Education Award. In 1998, Dr. Coppola was selected as part of the first group of Carnegie Scholars affiliated with The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's CASTL program (Carnegie Academy on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning). In 1999, Dr. Coppola received the Amoco Foundation Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching; and in 2002 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2003, he received the Kendall-Hunt Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award from the Society for College Science Teachers. In 2004 he was named the State of Michigan Professor of the Year in the CASE/Carnegie US Professor of the Year program; in 2006, he received the American Chemical Society's James Flack Norris Award for work that has impacted the field of chemistry education. In 2009, he was selected as the CASE/Carnegie US Professor of the Year (for doctoral institutions). In 2012, he received the 2012-14 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching.

He is a member of the editorial boards of The Chemical Educator, The International Journal of Science Education, the Journal of Science Education and Technology, and the Journal of Chemical Education. He is an Associate Editor for The Journal for Research in Science Teaching, and he is the editor in chief of The Hexagon, the quarterly publication of Alpha Chi Sigma, the professional chemistry fraternity.

Sponsored by
Faculty of Science
Department of Chemistry
Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) Visiting Speaker Grants
McGraw-Hill Ryerson, Nelson, Pearson, Wiley