Joe March. Professor; Associate Director, Science and Technology Honors Program
Chemistry Building 286
(205) 934-8788

Research and Teaching Interests: Active Learning Strategies in the Chemistry Classroom, Technology in the Classroom, Early College Experiences Leading to the Lab

Office Hours: By appointment

  • BS, Southwest Texas State University, Chemistry
  • MS, Southwest Texas State University, Chemistry
  • PhD, University of Texas at Austin, Inorganic Chemistry
  • Post-doctoral training, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. March received his PhD degree from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin, and is a recipient of a 2003 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Alabama Professor of the Year Award for his commitment to undergraduate education. He successfully adapted the guided inquiry approach developed at Franklin and Marshall and College of the Holy Cross to the large university setting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during his time there as General Chemistry Laboratory Director.

He has continued to pursue cooperative learning strategies in General Chemistry courses at since his appointment to the faculty at UAB. In the general chemistry laboratories at UAB, March has received funding to integrate new technologies and guided inquiry experiments into the laboratory course. In 2005, he acted as the principal investigator on the NSF-funded POGILinPrep grant that adapted the Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry approach to the preparatory chemistry course. This grant resulted in the publication of Introductory Chemistry: A Guided Inquiry approach by Cengage Publishing. March has also led summer courses for pre- and in-service K-12 teachers that have involve preparing active learning exercises for the laboratory and field testing them under supervision in our summer ChemBridge Program for 9th grade students. He has served UAB as Chair of the Faculty Senate and is currently an Associate Director in the Science and Technology Honors Program.

General Chemistry Coordinator (CH 114/115/116/118/119)

I am responsible for coordinating the lecture and laboratory program that introduces chemistry concepts to students. We use lecture, recitation, and laboratory exercises to reach our goals.

Goals of the General Chemistry Program

  1. Develop in the student an understanding of the methodology of science.
  2. Generate a basic understanding of the fundamental concepts of atomic structure, chemical bonding, chemical periodicity, and properties of the states of matter that result from aggregate structure.
  3. Impart in students the ability to utilize the periodic table in understanding and explaining chemical behavior and properties.
  4. Ensure that students can read (qualitative/quantitative) a chemical equation, predict chemical reactions, and understand the energetics and kinetics associated with chemical reactivity.
  5. Develop quantitative skills that permit the student to solve real problems, which exemplify the basic chemical concepts, i.e. numerical and conceptual problem solving.
  6. Reinforce the teaching of basic chemical concepts by giving the students a feeling of the way chemistry impacts the world about them and their future careers.
  7. Provide the tools that the student will need to function as a chemically literate person in a technological world.

Associate Director of the Science and Technology Honors Program

I am responsible for recruiting and educating highly motivated high ability students that are interested in careers that benefit from participating in undergraduate research. We have a full four-year curriculum that helps students in each phase of their career.

Active learning strategies in the chemistry classroom

Learning is deeper and the process is more enjoyable when everyone in the classroom is engaged. We have developed and tested active learning strategies in the three learning environments implemented at UAB (classroom, recitation, and laboratory). Our activities are informed by research on how people learn and adapted for use in the chemistry classroom. We have explored think-pair-share, peer-to-peer learning, group-based activities, and challenge problems. All of these approaches require the development of new materials and assessment of how the changes impact student success.

Technology in the Classroom

We have a long tradition on delivering content via a learning management system, and we are investigating how video can be integrated in an active learning classroom. Typically, video is considered a passive delivery tool, but with the availability of handheld phones capable of capturing video we now have an opportunity to explore new modes of instruction. Student-produced videos, pre-lab videos, video challenges, and video that address big ideas are all possible avenues to make learning through video more active.

Early College Experiences Leading to the Lab

As an Associate Director in the Science and Technology Program in the Honors College, I have created a curriculum that is designed to help students identify their strengths and interests so that they can quickly contribute to a research laboratory. This curriculum includes summer orientation sessions, a freshman retreat, a junior/senior retreat, coursework, and extra-curricular workshops.
  • CH 115: General Chemistry I. Stoichiometry, quantum theory, atomic structure, chemical bonding, gas laws, acids-bases, and colligative properties and periodicity.
  • CH 117: General Chemistry II. Solutions, chemical kinetics, chemical thermodynamics, chemical equilibrium, and special topics (organic, biochemistry, descriptive chemistry).
  • CH 116: General Chemistry I Lab and CH 118 General Chemistry II Lab. (Laboratory Coordinator) The guided-inquiry approach established at Holy Cross and Franklin and Marshall has been the model for our laboratory program. The new approach has resulted in the creation of a set of experiments that promote conceptual understanding, provide opportunities for students to interpret data, provide opportunities for students to participate in experimental design, provide experience with common laboratory equipment and techniques, and provide opportunities for student-student and student-instructor interaction.
  • CH 498: Chemistry Teaching Methods. This course provides chemistry majors who will be future chemistry teachers with insights into the fundamental principles of chemistry in a way that can be transported to the classroom. The course covers all aspects of teaching, measurement of effectiveness, and outcomes.
  • CH 602/702: Principles of Chemical Instruction. Responsibilities of laboratory instructors, safety regulations, grading, teaching styles and formats, and instructional objectives. (This course was developed at the request of the Graduate School to help students meet the CIRTL requirements.)
  • CH 611: Laboratory Experiences in Chemistry II. Continuation of CH 602. Application of simple experiments to high school science programs.
  • CH 719: Special Topics in Chemical Education. Topics determined by interest of students and faculty. We have developed a learning contract with in-service teachers that requires development and assessment of classroom activities.
  • STH 199: Introduction to the Scientific Process. Fall semester of freshman year for students accepted in the Science and Technology Honors Program. Discussion of basic concepts of scientific methodology will be woven around presentations by faculty from diverse disciplines. Discussion of contemporary scientific topics is also included.
  • STH 150: Skills for Leadership and Innovation. Introduction to individual leadership styles and basics of team function. Student groups address innovation challenge to apply leadership and teamwork principles.
  • STH 202: Research Approaches II. Students will complete research rotations in laboratories related to their areas of interest with the goal of selecting a laboratory in which to conduct their honors thesis research by the end of the term. Bioethics discussions will be included.
  • STH 400: Honors Thesis Preparation. Students will prepare their honors thesis in the format of a journal article during this course and present it to their faculty committee for approval.
  • Erdmann, M.; March, J. L. Video Reports as a Novel Alternative Assessment in the Undergraduate Chemistry Laboratory. Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2014, 15 (4), 650–657.
  • March, J. L. Test Bank for Chemistry: The Molecular Science. Cengage Publishing, 2014.
  • March, J. L. Laboratory Experiments for Chemistry 116/118. Hayden McNeil Publishing, 2012 (revised in 2014).
  • March, J. L. Is Honors General Chemistry Simply More Quantum Mechanics? in The Other Culture: Science and Mathematics Education in Honors, National Collegiate Honors Council Monograph, 2012, 153-163.
  • March, J. L.McClure, C. Introductory Chemistry Modules: A Guided Inquiry Approach. Cengage Publishing, First Edition, 2012.
  • McClure, C. P.; Nikles, J. A.; March, J. L.; Gray, G. M. The Chemistry Scholars Program: A Program to Recruit and Retain Students in Chemistry. Chem. Educator, 2010, 15, 328–330.
  • Williamson, V. (chair); Jose, T.; Kelly, R.;  Kimbrough, D.; Langdon, L.; Lewis, J.; Lewis, S.; March, J.; Mason, D.; Milne, R.; Monteyre, K.; Nakhleh, M.; Robninson, W.; Sanger, M.; Schneider, J.; Shih, S.; Yezierski, E. General Chemistry (Conceptual). Examinations Institute of the American Chemical Society, release date: 2008.
  • March, J. L.; Caswell, K.; Lewis, J. Introductory Chemistry Modules: A Guided Inquiry Approach. Houghton-Mifflin Company, Preliminary Edition, 2008.
  • March, J. L. Laboratory Experiments for Chemistry 116/118. Thompson Learning Custom Publishing, 2003.
  • The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) 2003 State of Alabama Professor of the Year
  • Nominated for The National Society of Collegiate Scholars Faculty of the Year Award, 2006
  • Elected to Pi Kappa Phi Honorary Society, 2005
  • Awarded "Professor of the Month" by Alpha Omega Pi, February 2002, February 2003, and April 2009
  • Elected to Alpha Lambda Delta Honorary Society, 2002
  • Awarded the first Faraday Fellowship for outstanding teaching in undergraduate chemistry laboratories at UT-Austin in 1993.
  • Awarded Dow Summer Scholarship in 1987
  • Member American Chemical Society
  • Member American Chemical Society's Division of Chemical Education
  • Member Alabama Academy of Science
  • Chair, Barry Goldwater Scholarship Committee (2012-present)
  • Faculty Advisor, Alpha Lambda Delta Freshmen Honor Society (2002-present)
  • Faculty Panelist, Alpha Epsilon Delta