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Pamela Mills, Ph.D.

Professor - Innovation in Curriculum and Instruction

Contact Information:

1321N, tel 212-772-5331, email


B.S. George Washington University, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, Madison

Research Summary:

I am part of a team that is dedicated to rethinking and redesigning the high school and college classrooms in chemistry as well as in mathematics and science. 

We have developed the PERC model (the Peer Enabled Restructured Classroom) for the urban, high school classroom (see PERC website). This model harnesses the capacity of high school students to learn to teach other students and thereby learn about themselves as students and as leaders. The PERC model relies on teachers to teach differently and to invite students into the classroom as teaching assistants. Drawing from the co-teaching, peer tutoring, and peer leadership literature, the PERC model is a research-based model that is proving to be highly effective in the high schools. The development of this model has been and continues to be supported by an NSF Math Science Partnership (MSP) grant.

The college classroom culture is rapidly becoming archaic and in need of significant change. How does modern technology interact with increasingly large numbers of students to create effective college science classrooms? What are college lecture hall best practices in the 21st century? What role do peers play in these practices? We have integrated technology into our large lecturers and are developing new strategies to reach more students and enable more tailored teaching and learning. We have adapted many peer leadership models (Peer Led Team Learning, Supplemental Instruction) to our lecture halls and engage in continual assessment. We have shown that very large lecture halls (600-800 students) can be as successful as smaller halls (80 students). 

The development of new educational practices occurs only through teamwork. I draw on my traditional training in theoretical chemistry to contribute to teams of educators, mathematicians, scientists, and students to rethink the modern classroom. Collaboration is the key and I am very grateful to have a wonderful set of colleagues at Hunter (Profs. Sweeney, McGregor, and Smeureanu) at in the education community at large. 

Selected Publications

“A Simple Mercury-Free Laboratory Apparatus To Study the Relationship between Pressure, Volume, and Temperature in a Gas,” Donna McGregor, William V. Sweeney, and Pamela Mills, J. Chem. Edu, Publication Date (Web): January 27, 2012 (Article)

Using the First Exam for Student Placement in Beginning Chemistry Courses,” P. Mills, W. Sweeney, S. Bonner (2009) J. Chem. Edu, 86, 738-743.

Letter to the Editor: Does Test Prep Have a Place in the Classroom?, W Sweeney, P Mills, New York Times, June 24, 2008.

“Bond breaking misconception” P. Mills, W. Sweeney (2007) Journal of College Science Teaching, 37, 11.

Study Guide for The Practice of Chemistry, D. Wink, Freeman (2004)

“Experiencing and Visualizing the First Law of Thermodynamics,” P. Mills, W. Sweeney, W. Cieniewicz, (2001) J. Chem. Edu,78, 1360-1361.S. Demeo, P. Mills, “Looking for Linearity: Integrating Graphing for First Year Chemistry Students”, (2001), Chemical Educator, 6, 2-4.

P. Mills, W. Sweeney, R. Marino, S. Clarkson, “A New Approach to Teaching Introductory Science: The Gas Module,” (2000) J. Chem. Edu. 77, 1161-1165.

P. Mills, S. DeMeo, W. Sweeney, R. Marino, S. Clarkson, “Using Poster Sessions as Examinations: The Poster Exam”, (2000) J. Chem. Edu. 77, 1158-1161.