One in five UW-Madison students who need an organic chemistry class likely took the lab course at another university or college over the summer because it's difficult to get into the smaller lab courses they need to graduate on time, according to Robert McMahon, a chemistry professor and department chair. That concerns McMahon, who says it's better for students to take the lecture and lab at the same time, and on the same campus, for continuity.News flash: you can't repurpose administrative spaces as laboratories or cheaply convert presentation rooms set up for business into demonstration halls for chemistry or physics. So there's finally money for building more lab space in Madison, with construction to begin in LaCrosse and Stevens Point. (But with the prospect of no pay increases, will there be faculty to cover the classes and support the graduate assistants?)
"For 20% of our students going elsewhere for labs, it's embarrassing on one hand, and it distorts what we're trying to do within our curriculum," McMahon said. "We didn't appreciate how pervasive that was until last spring. But students are resourceful."
To deal with crowding, UW-Madison a few years ago began eliminating half of the required labs for freshman Chemistry 103 and 104, so they have a lab every other week instead of every week.What an every-other-week lab does to the accounting for credit hours I do not know, and part of me suggests it's better I don't know.
The next level chemistry class has weekly labs but most go well into the night to accommodate high demand.