Peer-Reviewed Chemical Education Research

Organizers: Vickie M. Williamson, Department of Chemistry, Texas A&M University, M.S. 3255, College Station, TX, 77843-3255, tel: (979) 845-4634, Email:; Sam Pazicni, Department of Chemistry, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, tel: (603) 862-2529, Email:, and Diane Bunce, Chemistry Department, The Catholic University of America, 620 Michigan Ave., NE, Washington, DC 20064, tel: (202) 319-5390, Email:, (Invited only)

This symposium, sponsored by the Chemical Education Research Committee, featured in-depth presentations of completed chemical education research. Participants submitted a 1000-word abstract for a completed Chemical Education Research project. The abstract included: the study's theoretical basis or rationale, the research questions posed, a brief overview of methodology and data analysis, and summary of findings. The abstract was evaluated by three reviewers, with the hopes that the returned reviews would benefit all projects. Of the 11 chemical education research submissions, the top five were invited to participate in this symposium.

Megan L Grunert (Iowa State University) addressed the cause of under-representation of female faculty in Chemistry departments at academic research institutions in a qualitative study. She investigated how women in chemistry make career decisions in order to develop a theoretical model to describe women's decision-making choices. The study included interviews from 10 female faculty members and 10 female graduate students in chemistry. The findings include a difference between what faculty report about their careers and what graduate students perceive of these careers. Further results indicated the apathy of female graduate students towards academic research, which led them to avoid careers heavily engaged in academic research.

Alan L Kriste (University of Michigan) discussed a survey given to 1400 beginning organic students entitled “Use and Usefulness”, which evaluated students' perceptions of 12 major resources available to them (for example: podcasts, study groups, reading the textbook, informal study groups, recitation, TA office hours, discussion with a TA, faculty, going to lecture, doing problems). The survey asked whether students were using the resource and whether the resource was perceived as useful. The three that were most used were going to lecture, reading the book, and doing problems. The study found that students in inclining performance used more resources, while those whose performance declined used fewer resources. This survey has also been employed in general chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, and physics lecture courses.

Erik M. Epp and Kallie Doeden (St. Olaf College) investigated what aspects of green chemistry students recalled after a chemistry course where the curriculum involved green views and where traditional laboratories were replaced by green alternatives. Six students who were involved in undergraduate summer research were selected for interviews. These students had all had general chemistry; five had also completed organic chemistry, while only two had also completed analytical chemistry. Results showed a progression across courses in that the more courses a student had, the more green chemistry they noticed in previous and current courses. Methods for improving students' retention and ability to recognize and recall green chemistry were discussed.

Cianán B. Russell (Georgia Institute of Technology) and Gabriela Weaver (Purdue University) discussed the evaluation of a research-based laboratory curriculum. The Center for Authentic Science Practice in Education (CASPiE) is a laboratory curriculum for general and organic chemistry; and was evaluated by surveying and interviewing students, peer leaders, teaching assistants, and teachers at 15 institutions. The best implementation practices for CASPiE included the method of student assignment to the course, access to advanced instrumentation, the course assignments, group size, and implementation of peer-led team learning.

Michael Dianovsky (University of Illinois at Chicago) describes how the use of journaling in a general education chemistry course for elementary education majors related to course outcomes, student metacognition, and student reflection. The journals were found to contain reflections on actions, prior knowledge, project ideas, text resources, classroom events, and monitoring of knowledge. An analysis found that content knowledge as measured by course grade had a positive correlation with the frequency of reflections on classroom events and monitoring knowledge, but a negative correlation with frequency of reflections on textbook resources.

The session concluded with a panel discussion where speakers addressed questions regarding their projects and questions regarding the process that resulted in invitations to submit to this symposium. This inaugural symposium was well received by the audience. The Chemical Education Research Committee will host a similar symposium at the 2012 BCCE.

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