INTERDISCIPLINARY JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND SCIENCE EDUCATION

Keyword: Chemistry

7 results found.

Research Article
Examining Students’ Spatial Ability and Its Impact on the Learning of Stereochemistry
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(4), e2288, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/12099
ABSTRACT: The subject of stereochemistry in considered a difficult concept in organic chemistry because of its dependence on spatial ability. The challenges that students face in learning about stereochemistry can lead to poor performance and alternative conceptions, which in turn might hinder their progresses in various science and engineering academic careers. Development of successful conceptual understanding to solve stereochemistry related problems requires that students have a thorough understanding of the various types of spatial abilities in stereochemistry such as mental rotation and visualization of three-dimensional chemical molecules. This research project of the City College of New York (a minority serving, public, urban, and commuter institution) investigates some of the challenges that students face and approaches that students rely on to solve stereochemistry related problems and the role of spatial ability in the learning process. Likert-type surveys, spatial ability tests, and various open-ended questions were used to assess the understandings of 86 participants. The data indicated that one of barriers to learning about stereochemistry is the students’ inabilities to mentally rotate and visualize three-dimensional molecular structures by looking at their chemical formulae, assigning priority functional groups, determining configurations, and remembering the various rules that are necessary for solving stereochemistry related questions. Spatial ability was found to be one of the factors for success in stereochemistry, and majority of the students believe that with practice and the use of three-dimensional molecular modeling kits, they can improve their spatial abilities in stereochemistry.
Research Article
Hands-On, Virtual, Environmental Science Modules: Using Stable Carbon Isotopes as Forensic Tools for Students to Understand Environmental Chemistry From Their Homes
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(4), e2283, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/12036
ABSTRACT: Engagement with the natural world is imperative to student learning in the geo- and environmental sciences. Immersion in the environment is particularly useful for complicated subjects like nutrient cycling and biogeochemistry. However, access to the outdoors is not ubiquitous, and often students living in urban and/or remote locations are unable to access geo-, bio- and environmental activities, and demonstrations, and this inaccessibility was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We created a remote learning activity to teach the carbon cycle to high school students enrolled in the University of Michigan’s Earth Camp (summer 2020). These high school students were admitted to this summer program to facilitate their access to and inquiry of the natural world. Likewise, this program is designed to enable and encourage students from underrepresented minority groups to engage in STEM, and in particular, earth sciences. Students conducted at-home bio-centric experiments and collected hair from their pets and their pets’ foods (and for students without pets, favorite snack foods) and sent it to the University of Michigan for isotope analyses. Students recorded ingredients in their specimens and hypothesized what isotope values their specimens should have, based on C3/C4 plant distribution. The students’ results allowed them to examine how the Earth’s carbon cycle is reflected by common plants and animals living in their homes and to collect physical observations and analyze their own data. This activity received positive evaluations from students, and students felt their knowledge of isotopes and the chemistry behind their food increased from this exercise. Although Earth Camp recruitment was unrelated to student’s desired major, almost ~20% of the participants in this activity listed earth sciences as a desired major upon application to college. We have attached this activity in the supplement for future use by other earth science educators in an adapted version that does not require the ability to measure stable isotopes.
Research Article
Citizen Science as a Pedagogical Tool in Chemistry Education: Students’ Attitudes and Teachers’ Perceptions
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(2), e2271, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/11841
ABSTRACT: The need of promoting the affective dimension of chemistry literacy in students, through expressions of interest in chemistry-related topics and positive attitudes toward this field, has been emphasized in chemistry education. Thus, the purpose of this study was to understand students’ attitudes toward chemistry between the ages of 12 and 14, as well as how their participation in a citizen science project called Perceiving the Value of Chemistry behind water and microplastics (PVC) contributed to possible attitude changes. Although the research focus was chemistry education, chemistry and physics are taught as part of one subject in Portugal, so the attitudes towards physics and chemistry scale was used as a pre- and post-test. The pre-test showed positive attitudes towards physics and chemistry. In the post-test, the control group exhibited significantly negative changes in attitude, in all dimensions; whereas the experimental group revealed no significant changes. Pedagogical dynamics also affect students’ attitudes toward chemistry, so we undertook interviews to investigate the project’s impact on the pedagogical practices of the nine participating teachers. The results suggest that activities developed within the PVC project were formative for the teachers, allowing them to reflect on their practices and promoting an interdisciplinary approach to the topics addressed, in addition to enabling students to use knowledge in different and new perspectives. Moreover, through the development of pedagogical resources and training within this project, teachers recognized that they would continue this experience.
Research Article
Examining the Use of PhET Simulations on Students’ Attitudes and Learning in General Chemistry II
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2021, 17(4), e2247, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/10966
ABSTRACT: Chemistry is considered difficult to students to learn because many of its concepts are abstract in nature and require visualization at the sub-microscopic level of representation. Physics Education Technology (PhET) offers students the ability to understand and relate both chemical systems and what is happening at the sub-microscopic level through dynamic visualization. Simulations like PhET can be used as a powerful transformative tool for the teaching and learning of science. The research design and paradigm goal is to investigate the students’ perceptions on the impact of PhET simulations on their learning and attitudes and to identify PhET’s most helpful features. The data gathering tool in this research project is a survey that comprised of Likert-type and open-ended questions that was handed out to students who have completed General Chemistry II and were acquainted with PhET simulations as part of their laboratory sessions. The research took place at the City College of New York, an urban, minority serving, and public college. The number of research participants is 158. The implications of the research findings are PhET interactive simulations have an overall positive impact on students’ attitudes and perceptions about learning, PhET simulations promote students’ development of conceptual understanding of chemistry concepts and content, PhET simulations seem to promote and facilitate learning and understanding of abstract concepts, and PhET simulations furnish learning opportunities that otherwise cannot be attained in a traditional laboratory setting.  The data presented in this paper support the notion that there is a need to update and modify general chemistry laboratories to reflect emerging technologies such as PhET interactive simulations.
Research Article
Examining Some of the Challenges Students Face in Learning about Solubility and the Dissolution Process
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2021, 17(3), e2237, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/9333
ABSTRACT: Developing conceptual understanding of solubility and dissolution and the relationship to molecular structure, ionic salts’ charges, and enthalpy and entropy, play a significant role in the learning of chemistry. Dissolution and solubility are topics covered in general chemistry, quantitative analysis, biology, and organic chemistry. Alternative conceptions about some of the key chemistry principles can lead to students’ failure in understanding and accepting some of the future concepts. This study aims to examine some of the challenges and alternate conceptions that students face when learning about solubility and its relationship to Lewis structures and the driving force behind dissolution. A survey that consisted of ionic and molecular solubility related problems, short answers, and Likert-Type questions was given to 200 students in order to analyze their understanding of solubility, dissolution, alternate conceptions they possess, challenges they face in learning about the topics, and its relationship to Lewis dot structures and ionic charges. Our data indicates that students struggle with solving solubility and dissolution process related problems and rely on memorization to approach these problems. For ionic compounds, there seems to be a dependency on memorization and rote-learning of solubility rules instead of development of conceptual understanding of charges of ions and their relationship to entropy and enthalpy in the dissolution process. For molecular compounds, it should be noted that students lack mastery of determining molecular shape and its relationship to function but do emphasize the roles of Lewis structure and polarity in solubility. Finally, students do not attribute the combined effects of enthalpy and entropy as the driving forces behind dissolution and show very fragmented and naïve understanding of the concept.
Research Article
The Impact of Supplemental Instruction on the Learning Achievements and Attitudes of Organic Chemistry Students
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2021, 17(2), e2232, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/9330
ABSTRACT: Supplemental Instruction (SI) has been a successful implementation into Colleges and Universities across the globe. SI has been found to reduce attrition and improve learning and success rate among participating students. At the City College of New York, we recently implemented SI into Organic Chemistry I courses to further support struggling students with the content and concept learning of Organic Chemistry, which is considered a difficult course with a high attrition rate. Our motivation for this research was to examine the impact of SI integration in a large lecture format Organic Chemistry course while assisting students learn and succeed in this challenging course. The objective of this research is to examine whether supplemental instruction (SI) impacts participants’ learning achievement, attitudes, and learning competencies. The experimental design was based on a quasi-experimental approach which included a questionnaire of open-ended and Likert-scaled questions that was distributed to SI participants, and SI participants’ grades were compared to the grades of non-SI participants. Data suggest that integrating Supplemental Instruction (SI) into Organic Chemistry courses positively impacts students’ attitudes towards the content and experience in the course, helps them better understand concepts and materials, improves students’ problem-solving skills, and is effective in improving students’ achievement, success, and the learning. SI participants had an overall passing average of 81%, compared to about 50% for non-SI participants. SI participation provided the participants with a unique and individualized learning experience that resulted in an enhanced conceptual understanding.
Research Article
Studying the impact of online homework on the perceptions, attitudes, study habits, and learning experiences of chemistry students
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2020, 16(4), e2221, https://doi.org/10.29333/ijese/8543
ABSTRACT: The importance of providing students with opportunities to solve problems and providing them with feedback on their learning cannot be underscored. Providing individualized feedback to students in large enrollment classes, such as general chemistry, is an impossible task for instructors. Online homework provides a solution to this problem. College faculty have overall been supportive of online homework and learning resources because it reduces the time they spend grading, entering grades, and returning paper-based homework especially that the class sizes have been steadily increasing over the past several years. The purpose of this paper is to study students’ perceptions about the usefulness of online homework, the role it plays in improving their problem solving skills and study habits, and the effect it has on their attitudes and learning. Data was collected using a Likert-type and open-ended questionnaire from students enrolled in general chemistry courses. Our data suggests that online homework had a positive impact on students’ perceptions, attitudes, learning experiences, understanding, and learning outcomes.  It also increased the amount of time on tasks for students which has the benefit of meaningful learning, engagement in the content, and achievement. Finally, our data suggests that online homework contributed to students’ improved active engagement in the course, study habits, and understanding.