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- Affordances of Instrumentation in General Chemistry Laboratories
- The purpose of this study is to find out what students in the first chemistry course at the undergraduate level (general chemistry for science majors) know about the affordances of instrumentation used in the general chemistry laboratory and how their knowledge develops over time. Overall, students see the PASCO system as a useful and accurate measuring tool for general chemistry labs. They see the probeware as easy to use, portable, and able to interact with computers. Students find that the PASCO probeware system is useful in their general chemistry labs, more advanced chemistry labs, and in other science classes, and can be used in a variety of labs done in general chemistry. Students learn the affordances of the probeware through the lab manual, the laboratory teaching assistant, by trial and error, and from each other. The use of probeware systems provides lab instructors the opportunity to focus on the concepts illustrated by experiments and the opportunity to spend time discussing the results. In order to teach effectively, the instructor must know the correct name of the components involved, how to assemble and disassemble it correctly, how to troubleshoot the software, and must be able to replace broken or missing components quickly. The use of podcasts or Web-based videos should increase student understanding of affordances of the probeware.
- Examining and Characterizing Changes in First Year High School Chemistry Curricula
- Many students currently entering college are able to solve mathematical problems but often do not understand the chemistry concepts underlying their calculations. High school chemistry teachers from Texas and the United States (US) were surveyed as to what topics they teach in their chemistry classes. A subset of Texas teachers was also interviewed about their instruction. The survey indicated that less-experienced Texas teachers are omitting a number of topics from their chemistry instruction, as compared to more experienced teachers. No differences were seen for those topics among US teachers. Chemistry textbooks from 1930 to the current 2002 Texas state adoptions were analyzed for inclusion of these topics. The only textbooks that were missing topics were from the 1930s. All others contained the topics. In general, textbooks have been increasing numbers of questions and problems for each topic, with the number of quantitative problems increasing at a greater rate than qualitative problems. Analysis of interview transcripts revealed that the main reason for omission of topics by less-experienced Texas chemistry teachers is that these topics are not assessed on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills science exam. Omitted topics were both qualitative and quantitative; the common factor is that they are not tested. School administrators reportedly reinforce this practice. Archival data regarding textbook usage by general chemistry students showed that students' course grades are not correlated to the amount of time they spend using their textbook. With topics included in textbooks, and no relationship between textbook usage and student grades, observed changes in chemistry courses must be due to changes in classroom instruction. With new course standards adopted by Texas for chemistry and the development of end-of-course exams, these changes should produce graduates who understand chemistry concepts as well as they solve mathematical chemistry problems. Repeating this study in 5 years may show that increasing the amount of chemistry tested will produce students entering college with a better conceptual background in chemistry.
- Homework versus daily quizzes: The effects on academic performance within high school pre-AP chemistry.
- This research proposed to evaluate whether homework or daily quizzes were better for academic success within high-school pre-AP chemistry or if differences in the two methods were detectable. The study involved two years of data where homework was assigned and graded and one year of data where homework was suggested but daily quizzes provided the assessment. The mean of each of the unit tests were evaluated and t-tests were calculated. The results showed that over two-thirds of the units had statistically significant data when daily quizzes were utilized.
- Podcast Effectiveness as Scaffolding Support for Students Enrolled in First-Semester General Chemistry Laboratories
- Podcasts covering essential first-semester general chemistry laboratory techniques and central concepts that aid in experimental design or data processing were prepared and made available for students to access on an as-needed basis on iPhones- or iPod touches-. Research focused in three areas: the extent of podcast usage, the numbers and types of interactions between instructors and research teams, and student performance on graded assignments. Data analysis indicates that the podcast treatment research teams accessed a podcast 2.86 times on average during each week that podcasts were available. Comparison of interaction data for the lecture treatment research teams and podcast treatment research teams reveals that interactions with instructors were statistically significantly fewer for teams that had podcast access rather than a pre‐laboratory lecture. The implication of the results is that student research teams were able to gather laboratory information more effectively when it was presented in an on-demand podcast format. Finally, statistical analysis of data on student performance on graded assignments indicates no significant differences between outcome measures for the treatment groups when compared as cohorts. The only statistically significant difference is between students judged to be highly motivated; for this sub‐group the students in the podcast treatment group earned a course average that was statistically significantly higher than those in the lecture treatment group. This research study provides some of the first data collected on the effectiveness of podcasts delivered as needed in a first-semester general chemistry laboratory setting.