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Title:Development and analysis of educational technologies for a blended organic chemistry course
Author(s):Evans, Michael
Director of Research:Moore, Jeffrey S.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Moore, Jeffrey S.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Loui, Michael C.; Silverman, Scott K.; Burke, Martin D.
Department / Program:Chemistry
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
chemical education
educational technology
network analysis
item response theory
Abstract:Blended courses incorporate elements of both face-to-face and online instruction. The extent to which blended courses are conducted online, and the proper role of the online components of blended courses, have been debated and may vary. What can be said in general, however, is that online tools for blended courses are typically culled together from a variety of sources, are often very large scale, and may present distractions for students that decrease their utility as teaching tools. Furthermore, large-scale educational technologies may not be amenable to rigorous, detailed study, limiting evaluation of their effectiveness. Small-scale educational technologies run from the instructor’s own server have the potential to mitigate many of these issues. Such tools give the instructor or researcher direct access to all available data, facilitating detailed analysis of student use. Code modification is simple and rapid if errors arise, since code is stored where the instructor can easily access it. Finally, the design of a small-scale tool can target a very specific application. With these ideas in mind, this work describes several projects aimed at exploring the use of small-scale, web-based software in a blended organic chemistry course. A number of activities were developed and evaluated using the Student Assessment of Learning Gains survey, and data from the activities were analyzed using quantitative methods of statistics and social network analysis methods. Findings from this work suggest that small-scale educational technologies provide significant learning benefits for students of organic chemistry—with the important caveat that instructors must offer appropriate levels of technical and pedagogical support for students. Most notably, students reported significant learning gains from activities that included collaborative learning supported by novel online tools. For the particular context of organic chemistry, which has a unique semantic language (Lewis structures), the incorporation of shared video was a novel but important element of these activities. In fields for which mere text would not provide enough information in communications between students, video offers an appealing medium for student-student interaction.
Issue Date:2013-08-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Michael Evans
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-22
Date Deposited:2013-08

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