The goal of this project was to create an inquiry activity to teach symmetry elements and symmetry operations in an inorganic chemistry course. Many students experience difficulty when building and mentally manipulating three-dimensional mental models from two-dimensional images, causing difficulty when learning symmetry. Process-oriented, guided-inquiry learning (POGIL) was used to structure the activity using a learning cycle paradigm consistent with research on how students learn as described by Novak’s human constructivism theory. The activity familiarized students with symmetry terms as students actively engaged in finding symmetry operations in a variety of molecules. The symmetry activity was classroom tested and student and POGIL expert feedback were used to improve the activity.
The central goal of this study was to create a new diagnostic tool to identify organic chemistry students’ alternative conceptions related to acid strength. Twenty years of research on secondary and college students’ conceptions about acids and bases has shown that these important concepts are difficult for students to apply to qualitative problem solving. Yet, few published studies document how students’ prior knowledge of acids influences their understanding of acid strength in organic chemistry contexts. We developed a nine-item multiple-tier, multiple-choice concept inventory to identify alternative conceptions that organic chemistry students hold about acid strength, to determine the prevalence of these conceptions, and to determine how strongly these conceptions bias student reasoning. We identified two significant alternative conceptions that organic chemistry students hold about acid strength. Students who answered items incorrectly were more confident about their answers than peers who answered items correctly, suggesting that after one semester of organic chemistry, students do not know what they do not know. Implications for the teaching of acid strength are discussed.
This session presents results of a four-year longitudinal, mixed-methods study showing how Target Inquiry affects teacher beliefs, transforms teacher practice, and increases student achievement.
Thermotropic liquid crystal phases are ordered fluids found, for some molecules, at intermediate temperatures between the crystal and liquid states. Although technologically important, these materials typically receive little attention in the undergraduate curriculum. Here, we describe a laboratory activity for introductory organic chemistry students on the synthesis and characterization of the p-alkoxybenzoic acids. These compounds, through the formation of carboxylic acid dimers, exhibit liquid crystal phases common in rod-like (calamitic) molecules.
The high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) experiment, most often done in the undergraduate analytical instrumentation laboratory course, generally illustrates reversed-phase chromatography using a commercial C18 silica column. To avoid the expense of periodic column replacement and introduce a choice of columns with different stationary phases, we have developed an experiment in which students prepare and test a polymer-based monolithic column. The 10 or 15 cm monolithic column is prepared using 1/8 in. o.d. × 2.3 mm i.d. poly(ether ether ketone) or PEEK tubing.
This study explores what students understand about enzyme–substrate interactions, using multiple representations of the phenomenon. In this paper we describe our use of the 3 Phase-Single Interview Technique with multiple representations to generate cognitive dissonance within students in order to uncover misconceptions of enzyme–substrate interactions. Findings from 25 student interviews are interpreted through the lens of multiple theoretical frameworks, including personal constructivism and coherence formation. The importance of classroom teachers engaging students in dialogue about representations is discussed.
The Chemistry Education Research Doctoral Scholars Program aims to recruit, train and graduate a diverse group of scholars in chemistry education research (CER) who specialize in assessment; design coursework, K-12 partnerships, research experiences, and mentoring to successfully prepare these scholars for careers in CER; and create a community of scholars to collaborate and systematically improve assessment of student learning.