On What Motivated the Students to Take a Merit Discussion Section
"I enjoyed working through problems and discussing chemistry and math with my peers in high school."
"The small group work and the one-on-one attention."
"I took Merit for Chemistry 101 last semester, and I had a positive experience, so I continued with it this semester. I felt Merit prepared me well, and educated me in depth, further than a normal discussion could provide."
"I took it last semester and I found that it helped me more than just a regular discussion because I was actually able to learn the conceptual reasoning behind the mathematical answers which I don't think regular sections have time to cover."
"Smaller class, more personal attention, discussion environment is very open; no fear of asking questions."
On the Small-Group Learning Style/Atmosphere
"The one-on-one teaching/learning possibility gives me more out of chemistry than I would have imagined."
"The small groups allow discussion on problems where everybody can participate. This participation is integral to learning and allows our brains to actually process the information in a way that it sticks."
"I was able to explain my reasoning to the other students. Often times I found that I got an answer right and tried to explain it to someone else. I got the answer right but from wrong reasoning which means that I might not get that type of problem right all of the time."
"I feel I can ask questions without feeling stupid and I know that my TA will welcome the questions. The other students are here to learn and they are not put out with discussing or sharing answers."
"The Merit Program provided a lot of good chances to learn very detailed and complex concepts due to the extra amount of time. I believe this helped out in my better understanding of the course and a better grade."
"I think it has really helped all of us to feel comfortable in voicing our opinions and bouncing ideas off of each other, knowing that we will be able to figure out the answer as a group and being more confident in our problem-solving strategies."
"I know that the Merit section is where I pick chemistry up the most. The information doesn't really click until I get the problems to work on and discuss in Merit. Also, it helps knowing that others are having similar questions about the material."
"I did not know what to expect from college chemistry, and the students in Merit helped me adjust. I learned a lot from my peers."
"It has been beneficial because I gained personal relationships with the teacher and the students and it gives me a chance for me to have my questions answered and not be afraid to be vocal."
On the Comparison Between a Merit Discussion Section and a Typical Lecture-Style Discussion Section
"It teaches you to be more confident in yourself."
"Small group learning is more one-on-one than lecture style discussion. When students explain things to students, the person explaining gains a better understanding as well as the person who is being explained to."
"Nothing can compare to the benefit of the Merit Program. I have had a very positive experience, and that's why I'm continuing Merit next semester. The TA's are of superior intelligence and teaching abilities, as well as provide enough time to digest the material. Each teacher has gone above and beyond in assisting every member of the class. I literally feel that without Merit, not only would my grades be suffering, but my dedication to chemistry as well."
"The small group section is much more detailed and specific. It also allows us to stop, ask a question, and get clarification before moving onto a different topic."
"Lecture is exposure to the material. Small group is saturation in the material."
"It's a lot more helpful to work through problems than just sit and listen to someone else talk about it. Things can sound easy, but not be so easy when you do them yourselves."
On the Merit Worksheets Completed in Class
"The worksheets focused on the understanding of the concepts which was beneficial."
"The worksheets really prepare you for the tests – they're challenging and it's great to be challenged before the test."
"…when it came time to review for the final, I had in depth worksheets to study from (great study aid for the final)!"
"The problems force you to think outside the box."
"They are challenging and help me to completely understand concepts because they link all aspects of chemistry together in the questions."
On Their Relationships with Fellow Merit Classmates
"The groups are great. I feel like I really know the people in my group – which would never happen in a traditional lecture-discussion format."
"We feel very comfortable asking each other questions and discussing."
"I feel I have made some good friends that I will know for years to come."
"The main benefit of Merit to me was not learning chemistry, but meeting new people with similar majors/areas of interest."
"My relationships with my peers have grown tremendously. They are some of my best friends."
"I get to know who people are and build relationships with them because they are not just another face in a huge lecture."
"We study together in other classes too, plus I like my classmates."
"I am actually roommates with one of my classmates I met in Merit. I have made many ‘study pals' through Merit."
"You meet a lot of students in the same boat as yourself, and we have met outside of class more than once to help one another."
"Because of the small-group learning style, it was very easy to transition to college life and make many new friends."
On the Relationship Between the Merit Program and Their Exam Scores
"MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH BETTER."
"I don't feel I could even come close to understanding and applying chemistry with such skill and depth without Merit. It has pushed me to work hard and I love it!"
"I work harder, have a better understanding, and thus do better."
"My grades have gone up, and I'm more confident going into the exam."
"It has really helped by providing a more challenging atmosphere in learning so the tests do not seem as hard."
On the Effect Merit has had in Remaining in Their Major
"Extremely. Chemistry’s my major, and just being able to converse with faculty involved in chemistry, has influenced me greatly."
"Makes me believe in myself, that I can do it."
"Motivates you more to remain in major, almost like a support system."
"It has been a positive experience and helped reassure me that I’m in the right major."
"It has helped me learn that if you try, you can learn chemistry."
"I am double-degreeing presently. I was going to give up the degree in biology, because I thought chemistry was so hard and boring. But now, I actually enjoy chemistry and will continue with my biology degree."
On the Effect Merit has had in Choosing a Minor
"Chemistry is my minor, Merit helped make it possible."
"It has made me realize I can handle U of I chemistry and helped encourage me to pursue a chemistry minor. It has also helped me solidify my current major."
"I am minoring in chemistry because of Merit; makes taking chemistry courses more fun and a bit easier."
On Their Merit TA (teacher)
"My TA was great. She really tried to help us understand the material and she explained things really well. She is a really good TA."
"She is a very helpful TA. She is very willing to help us out and seems to be concerned that we do well. She is energetic and enthusiastic about teaching chemistry. She is the best TA I have had thus far in any subject."
"My TA is a chemistry god."
"He was very good and concerned about our success in chemistry."
"He was really open and devoted his time to helping all of us."
"He is extremely intelligent and an excellent teacher."
"He has been an AWESOME TA. He's very helpful at his office hours and he tries to get us to think for ourselves. He makes time for his students. He also listens to our problems which is appreciated because he doesn't have to do that."
"My TA is a great help and is very optimistic. He tries really hard to help us and I thank him for that. He is probably the best TA I have ever had."
"She did wonderfully. She answered questions, asked questions that made me think, guided me toward the answer, and made me comfortable because she is very nice and funny. Bravo!"
"The best TA in the world. He is very sincere and all of us look up to him."
Other General Comments About the Merit Program
"All in all, it's been a good experience and I'm glad I signed up."
"I truly enjoyed the Merit section. It gave me a different view of chemistry and it also encouraged me to continue taking Merit classes in chemistry and math."
"Taking a Merit section has been one of the best decisions I've made in college thus far."
"I love Merit! Thank you a billion times for everything."