Examples of projects from our group
Experiments designed for the visually impaired student
The NASAL project transforms chemistry laboratory instruction from an eyesight dependent experience into a multi-sensorial approach that allow students with visual difficulties to do science in an active and independent fashion. For example, we have shown that the dependence on color changes to monitor chemical reactions can be shifted to engage other senses such as the sense of smell when studying chemical principles in olfactory titrations. The sensorial experiments we develop exploit the senses of smell, touch, and hearing to make qualitative and quantitative chemical determinations while familiarizing all students with chemical techniques.
Design of demonstrations and resources for upper-level courses
A focus on developing demonstration tools and practical interventions to promote understanding of abstract concepts encountered in upper level chemistry courses permeates throughout various projects. For example, the development of physical models to study group theory aim to teach students new learning approaches to apply to their inorganic coursework. Studies on knowledge integration in biochemistry involved the development of models to probe student understanding of macromolecular structure.
Experiments to introduce nanoscience techniques into the undergraduate laboratories
This project involves the design of experimental procedures to expose undergraduate students to advances in nanoscience in order to promote understanding of nano-scale concepts. We are interested in modifying research protocols for undergraduate laboratories by eliminating the use of highly hazardous chemicals, reducing the experimentation time to fit laboratory time constraints, utilizing readily available instrumentation, and promoting conceptual understanding of the empirical research. An analogy framework proved valuable in connecting core physical chemical concepts to those at the nanoscale.
Innovative approaches to chemistry instruction
The Concept Advancements through Chemistry Laboratory-Lecture, cAcL2, project has produced over 100 general chemistry activities as resources to be used in any hands-on, activity-based instruction. These activities have been used in the SCALE-UP format and studies have shown positive gains in students’ performance and attitudes when compared to traditional instruction. All activities can be downloaded from http://scaleup.ncsu.edu.
Promotion of visualization skills
We started with the development of a tool to assess visual-perceptual skills in students within a chemistry specific context and now we are focusing on the promotion of such skills via instructional pathways that include the development of interventions and models aimed at promoting these skills.
Technology to enhance learning
A feasibility study to explore the use of immersive environments for chemistry instruction sparked our interests in areas such as the development of editable/customized materials for instructors and virtual reality programs. Virtual platforms add new affordances to instructional resources such as our development of the H NMR MoleculAR application (available to download for free).