Teaching Chemical Safety and Information Skills Using Risk Assessment

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There is an expectation from graduate schools, professional schools, industry, and K-12 administrators that students acquiring an undergraduate chemistry degree with laboratory research will gain the necessary knowledge and develop the required skills to successfully complete their specific laboratory projects and future jobs safely. This includes knowledgeable handling and management of biological, chemical, and physical laboratory hazards. To do this, students must be able to locate and evaluate chemical, regulatory, and toxicological information from various reliable sources. Traditionally, chemical safety and information literacy have been seen as skills to develop one project at a time rather than discrete chemistry sub-disciplines. However, many chemical educators, safety professionals, and librarians agree that these are more than project-specific skills. Chemical safety and information literacy are learning objectives in their own right. To support effective teaching of these objectives, best learning practices can be applied to the formal structure of “in lab” training and supported with safety and information literacy competencies. Educators should begin to consider developing innovative ways of incorporating the learning objectives and evaluation tools required to help students develop an aptitude for applying knowledge and skills in independent laboratory based work. Education organized around the aspects of knowledge and skill acquisition (accommodation, assimilation, and assessment) can help create a well-developed undergraduate curriculum promoting ethical, safe, and informed behaviors while increasing chemical safety knowledge that can be transferred from the teaching laboratory to the research laboratory.

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This document is the accepted manuscript version of a published work that appeared in final form in Integrating Information Literacy into the Chemistry Curriculum, copyright C ACS after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see


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chemical safety, information literacy, risk assessment


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Teaching Chemical Safety and Information Skills Using Risk Assessment. In: Integrating Information Literacy into the Chemistry Curriculum; ACS Symposium Series, Vol. 1232, Chapter 3, pp 57–92. 2016

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