Erwin W. Richter

Erwin Richter

Retired from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0423

Degrees

  • B.S., 1956, University of Northern Michigan
  • M.A., 1962, University of Northern Iowa
  • Ph.D., 1970, University of Iowa

Research Interests

As a senior member of the chemistry faculty, I have a wide range of research interests. My interests range from chemical education at several different levels including elementary to higher education and the evaluation of ground water quality in the Iowa agricultural environment. Over the past several years, I have been active in water research with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in terms of the analysis of agricultural chemicals in drainage-tile water and deep well water. In particular, this work involves the monitoring of nitrate and herbicide/pesticide levels in these types of water samples. Nitrogen levels in ground water have been correlated with total nitrogen applications in the form of fertilizers, rainfall, organic nitrogen applications, soil type, and timing of nitrogen-fertilizer applications. Several commonly used agricultural herbicides and pesticides have been monitored in level and persistence in both run-off, tile water and deep well water.

In the area of chemical education, I have been most recently interested in learning theory. In particular, I am interested in how students conceptualize chemical concepts and internalize them into a structured framework. Teacher behaviors which are more likely to bring about effective student learning are currently being studied. The role of active student involvement in the learning process is also under study with the desired outcome being an increased understanding of chemistry by the student.

My interests in chemical education extend from the university classroom to the secondary and elementary schools. In particular, I have been interested in using laboratory experiments and classroom demonstrations that are inquiry-based (i.e., non-cookbook) rather than prescriptive in experimental details. In that regard, I have written a laboratory manual, The Original Non-Cookbook Environmentally Safe Laboratory Guide Using Cheap Chemicals for Beginning Chemistry Students, which was developed for use in university general education and high school chemistry courses. In collaboration with other faculty in science education, we have published a large set of enrichment activities based on learning cycles for high school chemistry classes under the project name, CRISTAL. A collaboration with Professors McGrew and Wiley of the Chemistry Department has resulted in working with area grade schools on the use of hands-on laboratory activities for elementary school students. Finally, updating secondary and elementary science teachers on new approaches and techniques in chemical education remains an interest.

Selected Publications

Commentary on a Recent Survey of Iowa Chemistry Teachers, Journal of Iowa Science Teachers, Winter, 1990/1991

The Original Non-Cookbook Environmentally Safe Laboratory Guide Using Cheap Chemicals for Beginning Chemistry Students, Kendall/Hunt Publishers, 1990.

Action Spectrum of Chlorophyll, Journal of College Science Teaching, February, 1989.

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Northern Iowa
1227 West 27th Street
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0423
Phone: 319-273-2437
FAX: 319-273-7127
E-mail: barbara.reid@uni.edu
Web: http://www.chem.uni.edu

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