Development and Assessment of a Transformed General Chemistry Curriculum

Project No.
1359818
PI Name
Melanie Cooper
Institution
Michigan State University



Abstract 1

Development and Assessment of a Transformed General Chemistry Curriculum

Presentation Type
Paper
Team
Melanie M. Cooper, Michigan State University Michael W. Klymkowsky, University of Colorado at Boulder Sonia M. Underwood, Michigan State University Leah C. Williams, Michigan State University


Need

The goals of the project were to design a new general chemistry course around the core ideas and practices of chemistry. A suite of materials was developed that included a text, workshop/recitation activities, homework activities, video tutorials, instructor materials, and both formative (largely using the beSocratic system) and summative assessments. The curriculum has been implemented at several institutions including all sections of general chemistry (3000 students) at Michigan State University.

Goals

The goals of the project were to design a new general chemistry course around the core ideas and practices of chemistry. A suite of materials was developed that included a text, workshop/recitation activities, homework activities, video tutorials, instructor materials, and both formative (largely using the beSocratic system) and summative assessments. The curriculum has been implemented at several institutions including all sections of general chemistry (3000 students) at Michigan State University.

Approach

We considered both the logical structure of chemistry as well as the the relevant research on how people learn. We built the curriculum around core ideas in chemistry, using a scaffolded approach that moves from how we know atoms exist to how reactions are organized into coupled reaction systems, in the context of biology. We designed all the materials to support this learning and incorporated scientific practices such as calling on students to construct and use models, in their explanations and arguments about the behavior of chemical phenomena. The curriculum was introduced over a period of five years going from a pilot section of 50 students to a full-fledged implementation of 3000 students. We have analyzed student performance and used our observations to revise the materials as needed. We continue to refine course materials.

Outcomes

We have used both quasi-experimental and design research methods to assess the impact of the curriculum on studentsメ understanding of core principles in chemistry. Using a matched cohort of students we have found that CLUE students are significantly better at drawing Lewis structures, and are better able to use those structures to predict physical and chemical properties. Longitudinal studies using survival analysis indicate that CLUE students are, typically one or more semesters ahead of their matched cohort. CLUE students also appear to understand intermolecular forces as interactions between molecules, while traditional students were more likely to understand IMFS as interactions within molecules. In longitudinal studies, these differences persisted through the end organic chemistry (taught using a traditional curriculum).

Broader Impacts

Our goal in designing CLUE was to generate an engaging and more effective set of materials that would improve how students understand and use chemical principles to explain and predict a range of phenomena. Based on a logical framework around core ideas and practices we have developed a novel approach to teaching chemistry that our evidence indicates helps students attain lasting improvements in their understanding through at least two years of chemistry. We are now ready to extend this approach to organic chemistry and to introductory evolutionary and molecular biology.

Unexpected Challenges

There were no unexpected challenges

Citations

Cooper, M. M.; Underwood, S. M.; Caleb Z. Hilley, and Michael W. Klymkowsky., Development and Assessment of a Molecular Structure and Properties Learning Progression. J. Chem. Educ., 2012, 89 (11), pp 1351ヨ1357

Cooper. M.M. Klymkowsky, M.W. モChemistry, Life, the Universe and Everything (CLUE): A new approach to general chemistry, and a model for curriculum reformヤ J Chem Educ, 2013, 90, 1116-1122; DOI: 10.1021/ed300456y

Williams, Leah, C., Underwood, Sonia, M., Klymkowsky, M. W,. Cooper, M. M., Are Noncovalent Interactions an Achilles Heel in Chemistry Education? A Comparison of Instructional Approaches. J. Chem Educ. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.5b00619

Cooper, M. M., Reyes-Gastelum, D., Underwood, S, M. When do students recognize relationships between molecular structure and properties? A longitudinal comparison of the impact of traditional and transformed curricula. CERP, submited.