Developing a better understanding of teaching and learning in chemistry

Research Projects



Click on each project below to learn more about our work!


The ELIPSS Project: Enhancing Learning by Improving Process Skills in STEM

The goal of the ELIPSS project is to improve students' process skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and communication. To achieve this goal, we are designing and testing rubrics to evaluate students' process skills in both their written work and group interactions. This project is a collaborative effort between our research group, Juliette Lantz at Drew University, Suzanne Ruder at VCU, and a group of collaborators from multiple universities and STEM disciplines that are currently testing the rubrics in their classrooms.

Using Discourse Analysis to Explore Student Understanding of Chemistry

This research aims to identify the student conceptions that are revealed through classroom argumentation.  This classroom argumentation is elicitied using POGIL curriculum, which encourages small group work and a strong conceptual understanding.   The arguements generated can provide a very rich description of students' conceptions as they evolve throughout the course.

TILE: Transform, Interact, Learn and Engage for Success in STEM Education

Although the evidence for including active learning strategies in the classroom continues to grow, departments still struggle to create an environment that encourages faculty to integrate new instructional strategies into their classroom.  This research ultimately aims to design a professional development program for academic leaders and institutional infrastructure to help support incorporating innovative, research-supported educational practices into STEM courses. In the current phase of this research, we seek to assess the climate for promoting evidence-supported teaching and learning practices in STEM through faculty interviews and classroom observations across various departments. 

Investigating Student Articulation of Chemical Concepts Across Multiple Settings

This research focuses on the interplay of influences from individual students’ backgrounds, in-class learning, and other group work on their contributions to small group tasks and their performance on individual tasks.  Qualitative research methods including observations, interviews, and coding of group discourse and exams will be used to explore and coordinate how students articulate chemical concepts across multiple contexts during lecture and discussion.

Promoting Active Learning in Analytical Chemistry (PALAC)

This project seeks to create and examine the effectiveness of professional development workshops and follow-up support activities that result in sustained implementation of active learning analytical chemistry modules. This project follows participant analytical chemistry faculty through a two year program of workshops and implementations of active learning materials. Throughout the project, faculty participants will build an online community to share and discuss the modules they create in the workshops.

Increasing the Impact of TUES Projects through Effective Propagation Strategies

Increasing adoption and adaptation of promising instructional strategies and materials has been identified as a critical component needed to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.  To help PIs promote adoption/adaptation, the project team has used literature on change to develop a rubric to understand and analyze STEM education projects.  Understanding focuses on the type of project and what is expected of potential adopters. Analysis is focused on propagation activities and strategies intended to influence adoption.

Assessing Student's Process Skills: Designing a Problem Solving Rubric

National STEM education standards emphasize process skills that students must develop before graduating from college. The ANAPOGIL curriculum was designed to help teach student’s core concepts in analytical chemistry along with process skills. There was a need to assess the entire evidence of the student’s process which goes beyond whether or not the student got the final answer right or wrong.

Analytical Chemistry POGIL Project

The intent of this project is to develop a set of Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) materials that will impart widely accepted analytical chemistry principles while engaging students as active learners, facilitating their development in the process skills that are key to analytical chemists in particular and valuable to scientists in general. One focus of this research is to examine student learning gains and attitudes at approximately fourteen institutions to assess the impact of the POGIL materials. Student learning gains will be measured using several strategies.  A secondary focus of the research is to examine the impact of the project on the professional development of the participating faculty members. Faculty participating in the project will administer assessment instruments and keep a reflective journal of their own course observations. Faculty will also provide assessment of the workshops and consortium model.

Transforming Content Delivery in Advanced Chemistry Laboratory Courses

One particular challenge in upper-division chemistry laboratory courses is the availability of resources (e.g. instruments).  This often leads to such courses adopting a rotational or “round robin” type structure in which different groups of students rotate throughout the various laboratory experiments throughout the semester (i.e. not all students do a particular experiment all at once).  In this course structure, the lecture (content) component of the course is temporally decoupled from students’ experience in the lab. A principal focus of this project is to develop and assess a set of multimedia resources (laboratory videos) for upper-division chemistry laboratory courses with the aim of addressing this pedagogical challenge.