Randy Sullivan

Chemistry and Biochemistry

smrandy@uoregon.edu | 541-346-4391

Courses: The biggest part of my job is performing chemistry demonstrations and administering supplementary education programs to help students succeed in their chemistry courses.  I also teach a College Connections course, Making Sense of Numbers, that focuses on estimation and number sense so that students can solve chemistry problems successfully.

In my classes you will:

  • Practice foundational, transferrable skills.
  • Interact during exciting, participatory class meetings.

I was invited into the Teaching Academy because:

  • I participated in a Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching.
  • I was a Fellow in the Teaching High-Challenge Gateway Courses CAIT Group.

In what ways are you working to make your teaching inclusive?

Because the chemical demonstrations that I perform are rich sensory experiences, they enable students to connect theory with observed phenomena.  This can be helpful for students who might not be able to “tune in” to lectures easily, keeping them engaged with and excited about the chemistry that they are studying. The supplementary education programs that I administer are designed to catch students that might otherwise fall through the cracks.  Students can access expert assistance easily and form peer academic relationships in a safe environment.

What do you do in terms of professional engagement with the teaching and learning culture on campus or nationally?

I have presented talks at the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education for the last twelve years (seven sessions). I was a fellow for the Teaching High-Challenge Gateway Courses CAIT. I have attended and facilitated Mobile Summer Institutes for Scientific Teaching. I lead my Peer Learning Assistants in professional development exercises which include review of current scientific learning literature.

In what ways was your teaching in this course research-led—informed by research on how students learn and inflected by UO's research mission?

My demonstrations frequently include student predictions through classroom polling technology. My supplementary education programs integrate metacognitive training with problem-solving techniques.  In my Making Sense of Numbers course students work in small groups and hold each other accountable for learning goals.

What led you to this discipline?

The freshman mind is a source of unending wonder for me.  I’m more of an educator than a chemist (though I’ve developed a pretty good mastery of what used to be called descriptive chemistry), so I’m interested in how people learn in academia and what can be done to facilitate that learning.  I have mainly worked with freshmen and as an educator I find the intellectual changes that our students experience during their first year fascinating. 

I love to play Dungeons and Dragons and paly with my grandchildren.