Citation
Physical chemistry in practice

Material Information

Title:
Physical chemistry in practice the development of a DVD program for use in teaching difficult physical chemistry concepts
Creator:
Vessely, Christina
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
170 leaves : ; 28 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Chemistry, Physical and theoretical -- Study and teaching (Higher) ( lcsh )
Chemistry, Physical and theoretical -- Computer-assisted instruction ( lcsh )
Chemistry, Physical and theoretical -- Computer-assisted instruction ( fast )
Chemistry, Physical and theoretical -- Study and teaching (Higher) ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 168-170).
Thesis:
Department of Chemistry
Statement of Responsibility:
by Christina Vessely.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
51782488 ( OCLC )
ocm51782488
Classification:
LD1190.L46 2001m .V47 ( lcc )

Full Text
PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY IN PRACTICE:
THE DEVELOPMENT OF A DVD PROGRAM FOR USE IN TEACHING
DIFFICULT PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CONCEPTS
by
Christina Vessely
B.S., Colorado School of Mines, 1996
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Science
Chemistry
2001


This thesis for the Master of Science
degree by
Christina Vessely
has been approved
by
i?-/ zoo
Date


Vessely, Christina R (M.S., Chemistry)
Physical Chemistry in Practice: The Development of a DVD Program for Use in
Teaching Difficult Physical Chemistry Concepts
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Gabriela C. Weaver
ABSTRACT
The purpose of this project was to aid in the development of an interactive
computer program for the teaching of Physical Chemistry. The program that was
created provides application based examples of physical chemistry concepts in a
multimedia format. This presentation is intended to provide students with a flexible
learning environment, that will appeal to a variety of learning styles.
This study also documents the testing of the DVD program with college level
physical chemistry students. The testing was performed in three phases; collection
of preliminary data, program use by individual users, and program use by multiple
users on individual computers in a laboratory setting. The testing includes
observation of student use of the program, and evaluation of student performance on
homework problems. Additional data was collected on the individual users in order
to evaluate their program use compared to their personal learning style. Based on the
results of this study the benefit of the inclusion of such a program into a college level
physical chemistry curriculum is assessed.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the
recommend its publication.
Signed
candidates thesis. I
Gabriela C Weaver


CONTENTS
Figures....................................................vii
Tables....................................................viii
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION..............................................1
Chemical Education Historical Perspectives...........1
Chemical Education Connections to Learning...........3
Technology Innovations Connections to Learning.......9
Physical Chemistry Teaching Innovations...............17
Description of the DVD Project........................20
2. METHODS..................................................26
Development of an Interactive DVD Program.............26
Preliminary Data Collection and Analysis..............41
Evaluation of the Proof of Concept Program Individual Student
Use of the Program....................................46
Evaluation of the Proof of Concept Program Multiple Users
in a Laboratory Setting...............................52
3. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION...................................56
Problems with the Program Itself......................56
Student Reactions to the Program Surveys............57
IV


Student Use of the Program Single User
66
Student Use of the Program Multiple Users..............72
Student Personalities and Learning Styles Single Users.75
Analysis of Student Performance on Homework Problems -
Preliminary Data.........................................82
Analysis of Student Performance on Homework Problems -
CU-Denver, Spring 2002...................................87
Analysis of Student Performance on Homework Problems -
UNC, Spring 2002........................................110
4. RECOMMENDATIONS............................................122
Recommendations for Improvements to the Program.........122
5. CONCLUSIONS................................................126
Student Reactions to the Program........................126
Student Use of the Program Single Users...............127
Student Use of the Program Multiple Users in a Laboratory
Setting.................................................129
Analysis of Student Performance on Homework Problems -
Single Users............................................129
Analysis of Student Performance on Homework Problems -
Single Users............................................131
Summary.................................................132
Recommendations for Future Research.....................132
APPENDIX
A. Homework Problems from the AFM Module
135
v


B. Homework problems from the SERS Module..................144
C. Physical Chemistry in Practice DVD Questionnaire
CU-Boulder, Summer 2001..................................160
D. Physical Chemistry in Practice DVD Questionnaire
UNC, Spring 2002.........................................161
E. Physical Chemistry in Practice DVD Questionnaire
CU-Denver, Spring 2002...................................162
F. Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator Test.................163
BIBLIOGRAPHY......................................................168
vi


FIGURES
Figure
1. Learning Styles.....................................................7
2. Training Room for the AFM Module...................................30
3. Introduction Video Screen..........................................33
4. AFM Theory Page....................................................34
5. Animation/Video Menu Page..........................................35
6. Animation/Video Menu for the AFM module............................36
7. Theory-Based Calculation Problem in AFM Module.....................37
8. Application-Based Short Answer Problem.............................38
9. Data-Based Graphical Problem from AFM Module.......................39
10. Data-Based Graphical Problem from SERS Module....................40
11. Learning Styles, CU-Denver Students, Spring 2002.................77
12. Typical Plot for Island Size vs. Arsenic Coverage................95
13. Typical Plot for Number of Islands vs. Arsenic Coverage..........96
14. Typical of Island Size vs. Temperature...........................100
vii


TABLES
Table
1. Multiple Intelligence Characteristics..................................4
2. Categories for Student Use of the Program.............................67
3. Summary of Student Populations........................................55
4. Summary of General Impressions of the Program as Indicated by Survey
Responses.............................................................58
5. Categories for Student Use of the Program.............................67
6. Theorized Approach to Program Based on Learning Style.................76
7. Summary of Student Learning Styles vs. Use of the Program.............79
8. Comparison of Student Performance on Common Homework Problems.........84
9. Evaluation of Responses to AFM Question IB............................91
10. Evaluation of Responses to AFM Question 1C............................92
11. Summary of Student Performance on AFM Homework Problem 4,
Arsenic Data..........................................................97
12. Summary of Student Performance on AFM Homework Problem 5,
Temperature Data.................................................... 100
13. Evaluation of Responses to SERS Question IB..........................102
14. Evaluation of Responses to SERS Homework Problem 2...................103
15. Evaluation of Responses to SERS Homework Problem 3...................105
16. Evaluation of Responses to SERS Homework Problem 4...................107
viii


17. Overall Performance of the Students in the Course................109
18. Class Rank vs. Module Rank for AFM Module Test Group.............109
19. Class Rank vs. Module Rank for SERS Module Test Group............110
20. Evaluation of Responses to AFM Question IB,
UNC Second Semester Physical Chemistry Course....................114
21. Evaluation of Responses to AFM Question IB,
UNC Abbreviated Physical Chemistry Course........................115
22. Evaluation of Responses to AFM Question 1C,
UNC Second Semester Physical Chemistry Course....................115
23. Evaluation of Responses to AFM Question 1C,
UNC Abbreviated Physical Chemistry Course........................116
24. Summary of Student Performance on AFM Homework Problem 4,
UNC Second Semester Physical Chemistry Course....................118
25. Summary of Student Performance on AFM Homework Problem 4,
UNC Abbreviated Physical Chemistry Course........................119
26. Summary of Student Performance on AFM Homework Problem 5,
UNC Abbreviated Physical Chemistry Course........................120
IX


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Chemical Education Historical Perspectives
The advent of the study of chemistry is difficult to define. The early days of
chemical experimentation were marked primarily by trial and error, with little or no
formal training involved. These early experiments would include anything from the
refinement of different metals from their native ore, followed by the alloying of
metals to create bronze as early as 3000 B.C. (Lagowski, 1998), to the development
of recipes for baking bread. Often, the practical aspects of chemistry were passed
down from generation to generation, with no focus on documenting the theories that
led the early chemists from one discovery to another.
The field of chemistry developed into a formal branch of learning alongside
the industrial revolution in the 18th century (Lagowski, 1998). As people began
building more complex machinery, it was necessary to develop better, less expensive
methods for extracting metals from ores. As the textile industry grew, so did the need
for individuals who were skilled at dyeing and cleaning different fabrics. So, formal
chemical training developed primarily in response for a practical need. In the mid to
late 19th century, chemical training began to split into two directions; practical
1


training and academic training. This split was largely influenced by Ira Remsen, who
believed that pure science was every bit as important as practical science (Lagowski,
1998). Those interested in the pure science aspects often studied them while pursuing
an advanced degree. The pure scientists frequently ended up as the instructors for the
next generation of undergraduate students. The tendency in some cases was to focus
on the pure science aspects of the field, leaving graduating seniors with no more
practical skills than when they had entered the programs.
Individuals who were more interested in the practical aspects of the field
commonly went to work under an apprentice in order to learn the skills required to
succeed on their own. The obvious drawback to incorporating this type of approach
into the college curriculum is that it is unrealistic to try to educate large numbers of
students in this manner, as it requires a one-on-one interaction between student and
instructor (Lagowski, 1998).
Efforts to modify chemistry programs to include a balance of the two paths
would result in students who not only were versed in the intellectual aspects of
chemistry, but also understood the functional aspects of the field and were able to
succeed in an industrial environment. Thus began the struggle to define a chemistry
curriculum that would accommodate both needs. The Committee on Professional
Training (CPT) was established by the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 1936
(Committee on Professional Training, 2001) to address this struggle. The goal of this
group was to define the requirements of an undergraduate chemistry program and to
2


begin to certify educational programs that met those requirements. Those
requirements are updated yearly by the committee. With the establishment of an
official curriculum, the educators in the field of chemistry had the opportunity to
focus more on how to teach the required material, and to devote less attention to
which topics would be presented.
The standard format of a college level chemistry course includes a
combination of classroom lecture with varying amounts of laboratory work. Within
the lecture students are expected to take notes and listen to the instructor, but are
generally not active participants in the learning process. Laboratory experiences
often give the students a single attempt to perform an experiment which has been
described in their textbooks, or in lecture. Students generally attempt to reproduce
procedures and verify results that are given to them. Little opportunity exists for the
students to improve their methods or techniques or expand on what they leam. It is
interesting that this is the standard format considering that studies of learning theory
over the past few decades have shown that not all individuals leam by the same
mechanisms.
Chemical Education: Connections to Learning Theory
The ability of a student to leam a new topic presented within the chemistry
classroom depends in part on a combination of the aptitude and the learning style of a
3


student. Traditionally, the intelligence of a student has been defined based on the
idea that the capacity for human understanding was predetermined and quantifiable.
Under this assumption, an individuals intelligence could be determined based on
particular properties and could then be used to predict future success (Silver et al,
2000). In 1983, Howard Gardner published a book on multiple intelligences, titled
Frames of Mind. In this book, he brought forth the idea that there was not really one
single form of intelligence, but instead there were multiple forms (Gardner, 1983).
He eventually broke intelligence into eight categories (Gardner, 1995), as described
in Table 1.
Table 1 Multiple Intelligence Characteristics
Intelligence Characteristics
Verbal- Linguistic Intelligence The ability to manipulate words for a variety of purposes. Highly developed auditory skills. Speaking, listening, reading and writing are preferred learning mechanisms.
Logical- Mathematical Intelligence The ability to determine patterns, cause and effect relationships, and use logical reasoning skills. Development and testing of hypotheses is preferred learning mechanism.
Spatial Intelligence Highly perceptive visually, ability to convert words into pictures. Generally think in images rather than in words.
Musical Intelligence Ability to produce, understand, and appreciate music. Highly sensitive to rhythmic auditory stimulation
Bodily- Kinesthetic Intelligence High degree of tactile sensitivity. Strong connection between movement and thought. Learn best by performing tasks.
Interpersonal Intelligence Ability to work well with others, highly developed socialization skills, learn best when able to interact with other people.
Intrapersonal Intelligence Highly developed sense of self and emotional states. Ability to form realistic goals. Prefer to work and learn on their own.
Naturalist Intelligence Strong connections with the natural world, highly aware of environmental factors, ability to see natural classifications and order among living things.
4


Gardners theory suggests that these categories are not rigid. People exhibit
all of these types of intelligences, but express a particular intelligence to a different
degree from one individual to another. The value of Gardners theories on multiple
intelligences is that they have helped to provide a new perspective from which to
understand intelligence, and thus learning and teaching.
Another approach to understanding how individuals acquire knowledge was
taken by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, who theorized that there were four
dimensions to human personality as it relates to learning. These dimensions are
sensing (using your senses to tell whether something exists), thinking (drawing a
conclusion about what you are sensing in order to determine what it is), feeling
(determining whether or not the situation or object is agreeable), and intuition (using
your intrinsic knowledge to determine where an object or situation originated, and
where it is going). Jung also believed that it was important to understand whether the
individual was active during the learning process, or reflective (introverted vs.
extroverted) (Silver et al., 2000). In the 1960s, Katharine Briggs and her daughter,
Isabel Briggs Myers, used Jungs model as a basis for the development of a tool for
the testing and determination of an individuals personality type. This test is
commonly known as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Briggs-Myers, 1993). Myers
and Briggs work also was based on the idea that an individual uses all of the
dimensions listed above, but that certain individuals may rely more heavily on one
style than another.
5


The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MTBI), begins by looking at the four
dimensions of personality as described by Jung as well as their tendencies for
introversion vs. extroversion. The tests themselves will place the student into one of
two categories for four different characteristics. The first characteristic divides into
the categories of Introverted (I) vs. Extroverted (E). The second characteristic divides
into the categories of Intuition (N) vs. Sensing (S). The third characteristic divides
into the categories of Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F), and the fourth characteristic
divides into the categories of Perceiving (P) vs. Judging (J). The two choices within
the four pairs lead to a total of 16 personality types.
The tests are scored on a percentage basis, with the % in each category
indicating the strength of the association of the student with that particular category.
For example, a student who received a score of ENTP (1%, 50%, 90%, 10%) would
show just a slight tendency for an extroverted personality, but a very high tendency
for thinking over feeling. It is important to note that the Myers-Briggs results are not
an exact science, since they can vary based on a number of factors, including the
mood of the student on the day of testing. However, they can give a prediction, or
estimate of how the student may be affected by different types of educational media,
including this DVD program.
Using the results from the Myers-Briggs tests, the students can be further
grouped into learning style categories. One example of this type of grouping is
6


illustrated by the cross shown in Figure 1. The learning styles that are attached to the
classification system were developed by Silver and Hanson (Silver and Hansen, 1998).
Figure 1 Learning Styles (Silver et al, 2000)
Sensing
(S)
S ensing-Thinking Sensing-Feeling
MASTERY STYLE INTERPERSONAL STYLE
Thinking Feeling
(T) (F)
Intuitive -Thinking Intuitive-Feeling
UNDERSTANDING STYLE SELF-EXPRESSIVE STYLE
Intuition
(N)
Individuals who fall under the Mastery style lean toward the sensing and
thinking attributes. They prefer to approach new situations in an organized and
efficient manner. They favor a hands-on learning environment in which step by step
instructions are provided. They also prefer to focus on the practical applications of
the knowledge and when those applications are not apparent, they may quickly lose
interest in the topic.
Individuals who fall under the Understanding Style also approach new
situations in an organized manner. However, they prefer to be given the opportunity
7


to draw their own conclusions. They work well individually or with others of their
same style and require little input or feedback until completion of a task. Learners of
this type are much more concerned with logic than fact and can easily translate
symbols, equations, drawings, or other representations into descriptive words.
Individuals who exhibit a self-expressive style are curious, imaginative, and
open to alternative solutions to a single problem. They prefer a learning environment
that stimulates their creative nature and are discouraged by tasks that are routine or
that require a very standard, systematic approach. They also prefer a learning format
that allows flexibility rather than just an organized progression, one that is dynamic in
nature. They require minimal direction, and are often inclined to multi-task to reduce
boredom with a single project.
Individuals falling into the final category are said to have an interpersonal
style. These individuals are highly sociable and prefer to leam about topics that
impact peoples lives, rather than learning impersonal facts and theories. They
require human interaction and perform much better when they are emotionally
attached to the project or topic. They prefer a cooperative learning environment to a
competitive one and require positive feedback during the course of a project or task.
They look for a connection between the topic that they are trying to leam and their
own personal experiences.
The way that the different styles prefer to have new information presented to
them is shown in Table 2. While people can be generalized to fit one of these
8


categories, it is important to remember that an individual can use any of the learning
styles depending on the situation at hand. These descriptions focus on their preferred
style, which is usually the style that produces the best results for them.
Table 2 Summary of Learning Styles (Silver et al, 1998)
Learning Style Preferences Other attributes
Mastery Style Organized and efficient approach to new situations Hands on learning with step by step instructions Focus on Practical applications of the knowledge Projects in which practical applications are not apparent are likely to result in a lack of interest or enthusiasm.
Understanding Style Organized approach to new situations Opportunity to draw their own conclusions Require little input or feedback until task is complete Logic over fact. Can easily translate symbols, equations, drawings, and other representations into descriptive words
Self Expressive Style Environment that stimulates creativity Flexibility in learning format (instead of a high degree of structure) Dynamic learning format Curious, imaginative, and open to alternative solutions to a single problem Discouraged by tasks that are routine or require a systematic approach Often multitask to reduce boredom
Interpersonal Style Learning about topics that impact peoples lives instead of impersonal facts and theories Cooperative learning environment over a competitive one Highly sociable Perform better when emotionally attached to the project or topic Look for connection between topic and their personal experience
Technology Innovations Connections to Learning
The traditional chemistry course has consisted of a lecture/verification
laboratory format which is supplemented by an appropriate textbook. The classroom
lecture portion of this format may address the needs of students who fall into the
Understanding Learning style, as they enjoy the structured format, will accept the
9


theories presented to them in class, and usually will follow up by reading the text in
order to complete their mental picture. The lecture does not necessarily address the
needs of students with other learning styles. For one thing, the students are generally
casual observers in the classroom and not active participants. However, with the
large sizes of chemistry classes, individualized program formats and interaction are
almost impossible for a single instructor to handle. Even in physical chemistry
courses, which usually have much lower enrollment than a general chemistry course,
the opportunity for personalized instruction can be limited. The highly ordered
format of the lecture is frustrating or even boring to the students who crave freedom
and creativity in their learning. The standard lecture also does not provide many
opportunities for personalized, positive feedback on the progress of the students. The
laboratory portion of this teaching format may be agreeable to students who exhibit a
mastery learning style as they are given the opportunity to experience chemistry in a
hands-on fashion. The systematic nature of the laboratory may be uninteresting to
students who prefer a more creative approach. Additionally, some students may be
intimidated by the exposure to new equipment, dangerous chemicals, and by the
necessity of success on the first attempt.
In addition to issues with the learning styles of students, the standard Physical
Chemistry lecture often covers concepts that are completely foreign and unintuitive
initially to the student. These concepts can often be demonstrated well with
illustrations. However, the visual aids that are presented in lectures are often limited
10


to overhead projections of static images. This approach has a number of inadequacies.
For example, when teaching about the electronic orbital structure of a molecule, it is
difficult for many students to view a two dimensional image and have an
understanding of the spatial relationships of its components. Other concepts, such as
molecular motion, can be illustrated with lines and arrows. However, it is difficult to
demonstrate the time/space relationships involved in the movement of molecules.
A major advantage to traditional teaching methods is the verbal interaction
between teachers and students. Students are able to receive answers to questions and
feedback on their performance in real time. The students are often assigned to
smaller groups for recitation, which gives them a more individualized setting. This
reduces some of the pressure that the students may feel regarding asking questions in
a group of their peers. However, the utility of the recitation is dependent both on the
knowledge of the recitation instructor, and on the recitation instructor maintaining
communication with the primary course instructor so that the topics covered in
recitation are relevant to the course material at that time (Yalcinalp et al, 1995).
A major technology innovation emerged in the early 90s having to do with
the use of video-compression boards with personal computers. The video-
compression boards opened the door to the use of computer-based animations and
videos by the average student or instructor. Videos and animations could be
packaged onto CD-ROM disks, and viewed individually by students, or projected in
the classroom (Whitnell et al., 1994). By incorporating this technology into a
11


standard chemistry lecture, educators have the advantage of turning their formerly
static descriptions into animated demonstrations, potentially while they are available
to answer the students questions on the topic.
As computer graphic and animation programs continue to evolve, there are
more and more opportunities for instructors to incorporate the technology into their
classrooms. Early chemical modeling programs allowed the students to view small
organic molecules from multiple angles, by turning the molecular projection on the
computer screen. Advances to these types of programs now make them capable of
modeling even complex bioinorganic molecules, such as metalloproteins, in three
dimensions, allowing students to study all aspects of the structures (Childs et al.,
1996). The use of computer animations in chemistry can, besides adding dimensions
to a topic, bring microscopic phenomenon into view for students. For example,
computer animations can be used to show the flow of electrons in an electrochemical
cell (Greenbowe, 1994).
The development of multimedia computer programs allows the instructors to
take the next step in the educational process. Multimedia software packages allow
students to view course materials in a variety of formats. As was mentioned earlier,
different students follow different learning styles. While one student may be able to
effectively learn a concept by reading about it, another may require auditory
stimulation as well. Still others may require a graphical representation of a concept
before they can completely understand what is being explained. By incorporating
12


text, video, and graphical data into a multimedia software package, the students can
take advantage of the media format or formats that are most appealing to them.
Additionally, multimedia software packages provide a convenient means for
the incorporation of practical applications of the theory or the technology into the
normal curriculum. The students can virtually enter the laboratory of a professor at
Texas A and M University and learn about new methods that are being developed for
point of care assessment and treatment of head trauma (Weaver, 2001). This type of
learning addresses the needs and preferences of students who are of the mastery
learning style, or even the interpersonal style (if the presentation is such that they are
drawn in and emotionally connected to the people and subjects involved in the study).
There are some distinct advantages to supplementing the normal classroom
experience with computer-based educational and laboratory experiences. One major
advantage is that a computer can be made into a safe classroom, both emotionally
and physically. Computer programs can be created to be interactive and to allow
students to ask questions or to review particular portions of the curriculum multiple
times and at their own pace. This may reduce the intimidation that some students feel
when they have questions on a particular topic presented in a traditional classroom
(Lawoski, 1998). Computer programs can also be created to simulate a chemistry
laboratory. This gives the student an opportunity for a laboratory experience that is
devoid of hazardous chemicals or other dangers. Additionally, the students may get
more out of the laboratory because the program can be designed to let them know
13


immediately if they have made a mistake in the setup of their experimental apparatus,
etc. (Hovik, 1998). As a result, the report they write upon completion of the
laboratory work is more likely to focus on the chemical interactions and the results
from the reaction, and requires less explanation of the things that might have gone
wrong in the laboratory.
Computer programs can also be used to provide individualized homework
assignments for the students. The students have the advantage of using a tool that
can be set up to provide hints on how to solve the problems or feedback on their
mistakes. The instructors are given an advantage as well, since assignments that are
performed on the computer can be set up to be self-grading (Morrisey et al., 1' ').
The use of computer animations, in conjunction with a standard chemistry
lecture, has been shown to result in higher conceptual understanding of the topic,
compared to a control group who attended a lecture only (Williamson, 1995). This
may be an indication that the ability of students to remember words or details of a
particular topic is connected to their ability to embed a sensory image within their
minds (Dechsri et ah, 1997). Since the images are already presented on the screen,
the connection is more easily made. As an added advantage, many studies indicate
that the students prefer the computer-enhanced learning environment. The reasons
given for the preference include not only the exposure to state-of-the-art technology,
but also the increased level of interactivity which helps to maintain their attention
(Pedretti et al., 1998).
14


The advantages afforded by the use of computer-based educational tools are
generally maximized when these programs are used as a supplement to and not a
replacement for the classroom experience. If students depend solely on the computer
program for their education on the topic, they lose the opportunity to ask the
instructor specific questions that may help them to relate the information provided in
the program to their individual life experiences. While the programs are designed to
address a variety of learning styles, they do not actually provide a hands-on learning
experience. The student may instead work with pictures of the necessary apparatus,
and manipulate them with some combination of a mouse and a computer keyboard.
The computer platform, while protecting them from the potential dangers within the
lab, also shelters them from having to deal with the quirks of obtaining accurate
weights on a balance, or operating the stopcock of a buret. Without the additional
exposure to an actual laboratory, the students will lack experience in the skills
necessary to successfully perform investigative laboratory experiments.
Computer-based educational tools may provide students with the freedom to
jump from one topic to another at will. However, they are still limited to the topics
covered within the program. Without the presence of an instructor, specific questions
may remain unanswered. In some cases, the programs are designed with a more
linear format, requiring students to proceed through the materials in a stepwise
fashion. These types of programs may have further deficiencies, as they are not as
15


beneficial to students who lack a strong knowledge base on the topic (Pavlinic et al.,
2000).
The latest technology available for the presentation of many of the above
computer-based instructional innovations is the Internet. This makes educational
packages available to a much larger audience. It also makes the sharing of
information almost instantaneous. At this time, there are web sites available for
students to research almost any imaginable topic. The information gathered by the
students can be incorporated into the curriculum as a project or a report to be
presented to the class. Furthermore, the platform allows a way to disseminate
educational materials to students at a distance or who do not have access to those
materials through a library.
One of the principle considerations to whether any technology will be
incorporated into the classroom is the perception of the instmctor. If instructors
perceive the materials that they find on the Internet to be useful as a teaching aid, they
will be more likely to be used. If instructors perceive the materials to be trivial or
impractical, they will be ignored, regardless of the availability of the technology
(Wiesenmayer et al., 1997). So, it is advantageous to provide educators with
information on the value of any instructional technology as a tool for supplementing
their curriculum. Furthermore, it is important that the design of instmctional
technology programs take into consideration the real classroom needs of teachers and
students, making the implementation as effortless as possible.
16


Both multimedia software packages and Internet-based educational
experiences give students an opportunity to break away from traditional teaching
styles. While teachers in a traditional classroom guide the students through course
material in an organized, linear fashion, these programs give students an opportunity
to navigate through the material in a non-linear manner. Students also have the
chance to target their use of the program to areas in which they have difficulty, which
can result in the improvement of their performance on subsequent exams within the
course (Weaver, 1997).
Physical Chemistry Teaching Innovations
Because the field of Physical Chemistry itself has changed so much in the last
50 years, a change in standard curriculum is necessitated as well. Historically,
physical chemistry laboratory experiments have primarily consisted of bench top
chemistry experiments and require only the most basic sample preparation techniques.
On the other hand, the majority of people who work as chemists/physical chemists in
industry use much more complicated analytical techniques and equipment within their
laboratories on a daily basis. As a result, students enter the workforce in the field
relatively unprepared for the types of laboratory work that will be expected of them.
The incorporation of new equipment into a laboratory environment can also
be costly. The state of the art instrumentation is generally very expensive. While it
17


may be reasonable for a company earning millions of dollars per year to purchase
enough equipment to adequately support all of the necessary analyses, this may not be
a realistic proposition for a university laboratory. It is possible to purchase equipment
that is used, which may reduce the cost up front. However, as the equipment ages,
the need for the repair or replacement of instrument components generally increases.
Even when new, an instrument such as a High Performance Liquid Chromatograph
(HPLC), which is a fairly common instrument used for a broad spectrum of
applications, requires a great deal of care and maintenance in order to run properly.
Maintenance activities are quickly translated into additional costs. The incorporation
of more advanced instrumentation into a laboratory class period can be tricky as well.
Generally, any sample that would require testing by an instrument must go through
some sort of preparatory procedure. This procedure must be simplistic enough that
the students are able to complete both the sample preparation and the sample analysis
within the allotted laboratory time. As a result, the preparation of a physical
chemistry laboratory often involves a balance between a detailed cost-benefit analysis
and a time schedule. Some experiments have been proposed for use in the laboratory
that address these issues and also the issue of maintaining the interest of the student
(Schwenz et al., 1993).
In 1996, educators from multiple universities got together to develop an
Internet based project which was intended to assist students in first semester, college
level physical chemistry courses (Sauder et al, 1997). The goal of the project was to
18


facilitate the education of the students within the courses by providing a technology
based resource for use as a supplement to their lecture course. The project teaches
traditional physical chemistry topics by putting them in some application-based, real
world context. The web site was set up to be interactive among students and teachers
from different universities. This particular venture ran into several roadblocks,
including a lack of students familiarity with the software, unstable Internet
connections, and difficulties with the listserv software that was used for
communication purposes. Exercises included within the program were intended to
encourage students to think beyond the level required to solve textbook problems in
physical chemistry. A large number of students experienced frustration in merely
trying to figure out where to start on the problems.
One finding of this study that was particularly interesting was that students
whose performance on homework assignments and exams was generally average
actually performed better on this project than the students who were traditionally high
achievers. The conclusion resulting from this was that students had to break away
from their traditional problem solving methods, and the middle-level students had an
easier time accepting that than the high achievers (Hamby-Towns et al., 1998).
19


Description of the DVD Project
As was discussed earlier, the standard physical chemistry course consists of a
laboratory section and a lecture section. While this format meets the current
standards in education, it does not necessarily present the information in a format that
is aligned with each students personal learning style. The purpose of our DVD
project was to create a multimedia computer program for use as a supplement to
physical chemistry courses. The program is intended to provide students with an
additional forum in which to gain knowledge that may be more fitting to their
personal learning style. Previous studies have shown that the use of videodisc
laboratory lessons, in conjunction with a standard chemistry lecture and wet
chemistry laboratory experiments, can improve the performance of students on
lecture quizzes in a general chemistry course (Treadway, 1996). The researchers in
these studies found that the incorporation of computer-based teaching methods in
their courses improved student performance by up to 40 percent compared to students
who were not exposed to computers as a part of their study. Additionally, there is
evidence of an increased learning rate for students using computers as learning tools
compared to those who did not use computers (Shaw, 1998). These students
generally reported a higher level of enjoyment in their classes as well (Shaw, 1998,
Pavlinic et al., 2000).
20


Based on the success of the incorporation of such programs into a standard
undergraduate level general chemistry course, it is likely that similar benefits will be
experienced by students in an undergraduate level physical chemistry course as well.
The program that has been developed by our group is a multimedia program that
takes advantage of Digital Versatile Disk (DVD) technology to create a seamless
interface between the different media formats. The media formats integrated into the
program include theory text, videos and animations, and problems.
In addition to giving the students the opportunity to select from multimedia
presentations of the information, the DVD program also provides students the
information in an application-based format instead of a purely theoretical format.
This would give the students the opportunity not only to learn the theory but, also to
see how the theory relates to a real life example. Since students, especially those of
the Mastery learning style, often lose interest in a topic when they cant see its
practical application, it was presumed that this aspect of the program would help to
retain students attention, and therefore further motivate their learning and
understanding of the material.
It was hypothesized that the students who work with the DVD program as a
supplement to the classroom lecture would be more successful at learning,
understanding and remembering the material presented than those who participated in
the lecture only. It was surmised that this increased level of understanding could be
measured by comparison of the students performance on common homework
21


problems that relate to the material contained within the DVD program. The
comparison of the homework problems would involve first a basic assessment of
whether the student answered correctly, seemed to be on the right track but did not
get the exact answer, or if they missed the idea entirely. If the common homework
was simply a calculation problem, the comparison between the students who worked
on the DVD and those who did not would be based on whether they correctly
answered the question, and to what level they were correct. For other types of
problems, however, additional criteria could be applied in the comparison. For
example, for either a short answer problem based on the general theories or for a
problem in which the students were asked to make some conclusions about real data,
the homework problems would also be compared in terms of the amount of
information given. It was hypothesized that the students who worked with the DVD
program could obtain a better understanding of the theory, and how it relates to a
practical application. This higher level of understanding would enable the students
who worked with the DVD program to explain their answers in more detail compared
to students who only experienced the classroom lecture. This could also give them a
more complete understanding of how to analyze actual data and also to explain what
they observe in the results, since they would have had the opportunity to listen to the
scientists themselves explain the experiments that they were performing.
One of the goals of this project was to create a DVD program that would be
both interesting and beneficial to the student. A successful program would be one
22


that explained theoretical concepts and how they relate to practical applications. The
ability to hold a students attention may be dependent partially on the ability to show
the relevance of the information in a real world sense (Hofwolt, 1985). The
program could also provide a human connection by showing how the technology
being discussed impacts peoples lives. Finally, it would cover topics that are cutting
edge, and potentially exciting to the students. If the students find the topic itself
interesting, for whatever reason, they will generally be more likely to pay attention to
the information given.
It was also important to create a program that would be valuable for students
with different learning styles. In order to stimulate students who require an ordered
approach to learning, the program should give students a distinctive structure that can
be followed if desired. For students who learn better in a less structured environment,
the program format should also allow for students to freely select from among
different topics or types of media. We also wanted to provide computer graphics and
animations to illustrate the more difficult concepts covered within the program. It
was desirable to choose a format that would eventually allow for direct linkage to the
Internet. This would allow students to communicate with one another regarding
exercises associated with the program or discoveries that they made while reviewing
the materials.
Since the ideal DVD program would be designed to address different aspects
of learning, therefore providing opportunities for students to work with the program
23


in a manner that best suited their individual learning style, it was expected that some
students would benefit more from the use of the program than others. For example,
students who are of the Understanding learning style are generally satisfied with a
classroom setting, since they prefer an organized approach to learning and require
little interaction in order to perform well. Students of the Mastery style also
appreciate the organized approach that they experience in the classroom, but may be
dissatisfied with that learning environment because practical applications of the
theory are often not presented. These students are expected to benefit more from the
use of the DVD program than those of the Understanding style when it provides them
with the practical application of the theory or technology.
Students of the Self-Expressive style prefer to approach learning in a less
structured manner than is often available through the classroom. These students are
also expected to benefit more from the use of the DVD program than those of the
Understanding style because it allows for a more flexible approach to the material.
Students of the Interpersonal style prefer a learning environment in which
they can see the relationship between the material and themselves or other humans.
Working with a program that not only focuses on a practical application of the theory,
but also gives the opportunity for the students to see how that theory and application
will affect others, should also result in a greater improvement in performance for
students of this style compared to those of the Understanding learning style.
24


It was also a goal to create a program that would be simple for the students to
use. Previous studies have shown that programs that require a high level of learning
and concentration to operate the program itself are less successful than simpler
programs as they take the students attention away from the actual subject matter that
they are trying to present (Kommers et al, 1996). While trying to keep the program as
simple as possible, it was important that the program be interactive, so that the
student could be an active participant in the learning process, rather than just a
passive observer.
25


CHAPTER 2
METHODS
Development of an Interactive DVD program
The purpose of this project was to develop an interactive Digital Versatile
Disk (DVD) program that would provide students with a resource that included real
world applications of the theory learned in a Physical Chemistry course in a flexible,
multimedia format. The final version of this program will cover ten different physical
chemistry concepts/topics. However, in order to evaluate the feasibility of the project,
a proof of concept version was first produced. The proof of concept version is the
platform on which the final program will be built. It includes an introduction, which
is intended to get the attention of the students by showing and describing examples of
how Physical chemistry has been used to study rock formations in Canyonlands
National Park. The proof of concept version also includes two physical chemistry
topics.
There are multiple topics covered within the curriculum of a standard physical
chemistry course. In an effort to create a DVD program that could be used
throughout the course, but that would provide convenient starting and ending points,
the program has been organized into modules. A module consists of theory,
26


video/animations, and problems sections covering one experiment by a scientist in a
real laboratory setting. Each module can be used either in conjunction with other
modules, or as a stand-alone program.
In order to create program modules that would be relevant to a college level
physical chemistry course, we started by looking at the normal curriculum addressed
in both the first and second semesters of the course. For the proof of concept version
of the program, it was preferable to choose one module topic from the first semester
course material and one module topic from the second semester course material.
Once the general topic was selected, it was researched extensively in the current
literature and on the Internet in an effort to find a contemporary application of the
technology that might be of interest to the students.
For the first module, the general topic of thermodynamics, which is discussed
extensively in a first semester physical chemistry course, was selected. It was
determined that one of the groups at the JILA Institute at the University of Colorado,
Boulder, was working on a project involving the deposition of germanium films on
silicon surfaces, a process which is highly illustrative of thermodynamic
dependencies. The research material from this group was incorporated into the first
program module, specifically discussing the factors that affect deposition of
germanium on silicon. This technology has applications in the semiconductor
industry in the development of new materials for use in cell phones, Internet
appliances, and other products that rely on components with highly developed
27


microelectronic properties. The module additionally focuses on the use of Atomic
Force Microscopy (AFM) as an analytical tool for evaluating the deposited
germanium layers, and the thermodynamics involved in instrument operation.
For the second module, the general topic of spectroscopy was chosen, as it is
part of the normal curriculum in a second semester physical chemistry course.
Specifically, the topic of Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) was chosen
as the focus of the second program module. SERS was selected as the focal point for
the modules because it is a technique that students would not normally have an
opportunity to deal with in an undergraduate curriculum. It was discovered that a
group was performing research at Texas A & M regarding the viability of SERS as a
tool for evaluating the concentration of excitatory amino acids in the brain resulting
from some types of brain trauma. This application was a good choice because it is a
practical application of the technology in the field of Biomedical Technology, which
is outside of the scope of most physical chemistry courses.
Once the module topics were chosen, scripts were prepared for the video
sections of each module. The script for the first module, the AFM module, covered
the topics of surface preparation and semiconductor growth, and the analysis of the
surfaces using AFM. The discussion of AFM included information on the instrument
itself, and the collection and analysis of data that could be obtained through the use of
such an instrument. The script for the second module, the SERS module, covered
both the general topics of Raman Spectroscopy and SERS, and the specific
28


application of the technology for the detection of excitatory amino acids in the
cerebral spinal fluid for cases of head trauma.
Once the scripts were completed, the portions of the video sections were
filmed on site with the primary investigators in each research group. While the video
segments were being created, the graphic arts team at the media center at the
University of Colorado, Denver, created animations of the components of the work
that could be represented visually. These animations give students an opportunity to
visualize topics such as the movement of electrolytes in and out of a cell, or the inner
workings of an Atomic Force Microscope.
The development of the software component of the project actually went
through several stages. Initially, a large amount of work was put into developing a
program using Authorware for windows. The idea for a structure for the program
was to create a virtual work environment. The computer graphics program
TrueSpace was used to create the graphical images and animations incorporated into
the Authorware portion of the program. Students would enter a building and would
be requested to sign in. The sign-in procedure would later give the program the
ability to speak directly to students using their own names. The students would enter
the building and proceed to the elevator. Once inside of the elevator, they would see
images of buttons for the different floors which were labeled with the module titles,
or else labeled as Introduction. Once they chose which module to work on, they
were taken into the training room for that particular module, as illustrated in Figure 2.
29


On one side of this virtual training room is the elevator, which would allow
the student to exit the module, and potentially the program. On the other side of the
training room is a door that would enter into a laboratory for that module. The
students would enter the laboratory in order to begin working on problems or
performing simulated experiments.
Figure 2 Training Room for the AFM Module
The training room was set up with a bookshelf that contained items intended
to resemble books, and items intended to resemble video cassettes. The books and
the videos had titles that appear when one rolls over them with the mouse. The titles
matched those of the theory segments and the video segments, respectively. The
training room also contained a television. If the student selected a book from the
30


shelf, it would open to a text based theory page, which the students could read at their
own pace. If the student selected a video from the shelf, the television would enlarge
to fill the entire screen and the video would then play on the screen.
If the student selected the door to the laboratory, they would enter a room in
which they could either work at laboratory benches to perform simulated
experiments, or else could go to the chalkboard in order to work on problems. The
laboratory benches were intended to contain instruments, chemicals, glassware, or
whatever else was necessary to perform the experiments that had been described in
the video and theory portions of the DVD. The performance of an experiment was
intended to include all major steps of the experiment, such as the preparation of the
samples, preparation of the instrument, and then the actual data collection. The
program would also require the students to input certain parameters that would give
different results. For example, in the AFM module, variations in temperature and
arsenic coverage will impact the size and uniformity of islands that will form on the
silicon surface during semiconductor growth. The students would observe the line by
line data accumulation of the AFM scans, and the resulting scan would be dependent
on which temperature and arsenic conditions were chosen by the student. When the
students select the simulated chalkboard within the laboratory, they would be asked
questions such as What is the effect of temperature on the size of the islands that
grow on the silicon surface. They would then have the option to answer right away,
or perform more experiments in order to begin to develop an understanding of the
31


effects. It was found that a great deal more programming expertise would be
necessary in order to formulate this type of virtual reality interface into one that
was intuitive for a student to use. Since we did not want the interface to present its
own learning difficulties, we chose to discontinue work on the virtual reality interface
and develop a much simpler, menu-driven interface for this proof of concept version
of the DVD.
It was still our goal to include an interface which could provide interactivity
for the user, and also interface seamlessly with the DVD video. The software
package that was chosen to achieve this was one developed by Interactual
Technologies. This software package allows for a seamless connection between an
HTML-based format and DVD videos. As a result, students can go directly from a
theory page to a video screen without exiting the program. Use of this HTML-based
interface requires the DVD to be used on a computer. However, the design of the
disk also allows it to be played on a television-based DVD player, just like consumer
DVD movies.
The final version of the proof of concept program, run by the Interactual
Technologies software, begins at an introduction screen which allows the student to
choose between an introductory video and the topic modules for Atomic Force
Microscopy (AFM) and Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS). If the
students select the introductory video, they are taken to a page in which the video
plays on screen, as illustrated in Figure 3. The primary structural difference between
32


the introduction and the modules is that the introduction has no theory or problem
sections associated with the short video.
Figure 3- Introduction Video Screen
The theory pages are HTML-based pages designed to give students written
information on the topic. At this time, the information included on the theory pages
is identical to that given verbally with the video sections, but it is intended to include
more material in later versions of the DVD. A sample of a theory page that is
included in the AFM module is shown in Figure 4.
33


Figure 4 AFM Theory Page
3AFM- theory Miciosoft Internet Explorer
-*+ 3 J 4
U 3 3 y£r\
eefeh Fayorite$:-s Hisfofy TJtaiALpmt
ii; if;:i ft-.'-' -
/'U Nj&!:;vZ-V. ' '!*' '!
* j.f!
The structure of pure silicon is the same basic structure as diamond. All the silicon
atoms in the interior of the crystal are tetrahedrally coordinated, which means they
are bonded to four other atoms, just like carbon is m a diamond. The surface of the
diamond-Hke lattice can be cut along many different crystal planes. When the silicon
surface is terminated on the (100) crystal face, the surface is left with two "dangling
bonds" per silicon atom at the surface, which are highly reactive unbonded
electrons. This creates a very reactive and high-energy arrangement To reduce the
energy of this surface, neighboring silicon atoms pair up and form dimer bonds,
which eliminates one of the dangling bonds and leaves just one dangling bond per
atom on the surface This is a lower energy configuration, but as you can see there
is still one reactive site per silicon atom at the surface. "When Ge lands on Si, that
reactive site is where growth will be initiated
.CEE urn
The students may navigate through the text based theory pages by selecting
any of the topics listed on the left hand side of the screen. They also have the option
of selecting either the Animation/Video button or the Problems button near the top of
the screen in order to move into one of those sections. If the student selects the
Animation/Video button, they will be taken to a menu screen that is identical to what
they would see if they had put the DVD into a TV-based player, as illustrated in
Figure 5.
34


Figure 5 Animation/Video Main Menu Page
Selecting a specific module will lead the student to a second menu screen that
lists the topics for that module, as illustrated in Figure 6. From here, the menu allows
them to either view the entire video segment (~20-30 minutes in length), or to select
from numerous chapter points (each ~2-4 minutes in length) corresponding to the
theory page menu items. The students have the option to view specific
Animations/Video sections, to watch particular animations without the associated
videos, or to view the entire Animations/Video presentation series for the module.
If the students select the problems tab shown in Figure 4, they are taken to a
page that lists the choices of problems associated with the module. The problems
generally follow three different formats. These include: 1) a theory-based calculation
format; 2) an application-based short answer format; 3) a data-based graphical format.
35


Copies of all of the problems included within the DVD program are available in
Appendix 1 and Appendix 2.
Figure 6 Animation/Video Menu for the AFM module
Problems that follow the theory-based calculation format, as shown in Figure
7, were derived from information presented in a standard physical chemistry
textbook (Atkins, 1998) related to the background theory of the module topic. These
problems are intended to be general in nature, and relevant to a standard physical
chemistry course.
The application-based short answer problems are derived from material
presented in either the theory sections or the video sections of the module. They are
intended to make students think about the information that was presented within the
module, and to take that information a step further in order to begin to draw their own
conclusions about how it relates to real life. An example of this type of problem is
shown in Figure 8.
36


Figure 7 Theory-Based Calculation Problem in AFM Module
4
r.ftefiesh* : HOfflC
j- .L'atoi-'.-i.:
AFM Instrument (cont.)
The cantilever tip on the AFM scans over the surface of the silicon. The surface
features exert a force on the cantilever tip, which results in the vertical movement of
the cantilever according to hooke's law. Lawj
F = k*x
Where" F = the force exerted on the tip
k = the spring constant for the cantilever
x = the vertical movement
( nlilr r wl bp
The instrument does not actually measure force, but rather the deflection of the
cantilever
A) If you are using a cantilever with a spring constant of 44 N/m, how much force
must be exerted on the cantilever tip in order to result m a 6 nrn displacement of the
cantilever?
C ontmue
MMEM ;
Be
,.Jh cBaett^
AFM Instrument (cont.)
AFIV1 Atomic Force Microscopy
Theory ' ; Anifratian/Vided r

The force exerted on the cantilever tip results from repulsive interactions between
the molecules in the cantilever tip and the surface being studied. The variation of the
repulsions with distance can be expressed in terms of potential energy, specifically
using the Leonard-Jones potential The equation for determining the Lennard-Jones
potential is as follows:
W ft)'
Where V = Lennard-Jones Potential
r = distance between repulsive centers (distance between the cantilever tip and the
surface molecule)
ro=separation at which V 0
E=the depth of the potential energy well. Values for e can be found in table 1
-
atri


37


Figure 8 Application-Based Short Answer Problem
Furthei Challenges
It is important to closely examine any differences seen between the scans for in vitro
(standard curve) data and in vivo (rat brain) data Take a look at the following two
scans, the first is for a glutamate standard and the second is one of the rat bram
samples
A) What differences do you see between the two scans?
B) How do these differences affect the scientist's ability to accurately quantify
glutamate levels m the m vivo samples7


.JV) Done _
S?..'
-sSSSS

. My Compeer
The final problem format is the data-based graphical problem format. In these
types of problems, the students are given real data that was obtained by the scientists
performing the studies in the video modules. Figure 9 shows one page of a data-
based graphical problem found in the AFM module. In this problem, students are
asked to compare the AFM scans from preparations of germanium on a silicon
surface with varying temperatures. In order to evaluate the differences, the students
are asked to measure the size of the islands that form (seen as light colored circles in
Figure 9), and then create a graph of temperature vs. island size. There is a similar
problem within the module that deals with the effects of arsenic coverage on the
silicon surface prior to the growth of the germanium film. Students can either
measure the islands while the image is present on the computer screen, or they can
38


print out the web page to make their measurements. This type of problem gives
students an opportunity to solidify the connection between the theory that was
presented both in the DVD and in their coursework, and the actual results of the
laboratory research.
Figure 9 Data-Based Graphical Problem from AFM Module
In the SERS module, the students are taken through almost the entire
analytical procedure for determining and evaluating excitatory amino acid
concentrations in the rat brain. In this module, they are given a problem in which
they are asked to create a standard curve for the analyte of interest by plotting peak
height vs. concentration of that analyte in standard solutions. An example of one of
the SERS scans from this problem is shown in Figure 10. The students are asked, as
39


a part of the question, which peak they chose to use for this standard curve and why.
In another problem, the students are given a series of scans performed on rat cerebral
spinal fluid through the course of a brain trauma event. The students are asked to
create a plot of peak height vs. time. From this plot, they are asked to determine at
which point in time the trauma was induced. Once again, the students are able to
choose which peak they use for this plot, and are asked why they made that choice.
Figure 10 Data Based Graphical Problem from the SERS Module
The idea in this type of problem is that the students are given the opportunity
first to see what the actual data look like. They are then able to begin trying to
interpret the data. After the initial interpretation in these problems, they are then
40


asked to repeat the process for another peak within the spectrum, and to compare the
results for the two peaks. This hopefully helps the students to understand the impact
of choosing one peak over another, in terms of how this choice will affect the data.
Asking the students to evaluate the graphs that they plot is intended to force students
to think about what the data actually means, and help them to solidify the connections
between theory and reality.
Preliminary Data Collection and Analysis
In order to evaluate the utility of the proof of concept program, we worked
with students enrolled in various physical chemistry courses at the University of
Colorado at Denver (CU-Denver), the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-
Boulder), and the University of Northern Colorado (UNC). Preliminary data were
collected on students in a 2nd semester Physical Chemistry course at CU-Denver in
the Spring of 2001, which was taught by Dr. Weaver. In this course, the students
were ranked by their current scores in the class. Starting with the student at the top of
the list, every second student going down the list was chosen to participate in the test
group for the class. The other students made up the control group. The project was
presented as a class assignment, in which the test group would spend ~2 hours
working with the program, and would then complete the problems associated with the
program. The computer sessions were videotaped, although the videotape does not
41


actually show the student, as the camera was positioned over the students shoulder to
focus on the video screen. In addition to the videotaping, an observer was present
during the computer sessions, both to help answer questions regarding program usage,
and also to take notes on student usage, student comments, etc.
When the students entered the session, they were given a general description
of the program and its layout. It was recommended to the students that they begin
with the introduction video, since it serves as a good lead-in to the individual modules.
The students were encouraged to work with the program in whatever way they chose.
The problems associated with the program were printed for the students in the test
group prior to their session so that they would not feel pressured to complete the
problems during the computer session. The control group also received a problem set
that covered similar topics, but that were not as specific to the information discussed
in the program. The control group did not participate in any activities relating to the
project other than the normal classroom lecture and the homework assignment. The
two groups were given one common problem, that dealt with Raman Spectroscopy in
the more general sense. The completed problem sets were evaluated in order to begin
to assess the performance of students who worked with the DVD compared to those
who attended the classroom lecture only. It is important to mention that at the time
the computer sessions were held for this first group of students, the program was not
yet all-inclusive. For this testing, the Animations/ Video section operated from a
DVD player, while the theory and problem sections were located on the hard drive of
42


the computer. Not all of the animations were completed at the time of the computer
sessions, and thus were not available to the students.
The initial intent of data collection from this first group of students was for
evaluation of the program. Review of the data, which is discussed later, indicated
that the sample size was not sufficient for quantitative analysis. However, the
preliminary data collected from these students was invaluable in determining the
design of future experiments.
Additional preliminary data were collected from students enrolled in the
second semester Physical Chemistry course at the CU-Boulder campus in the
Summer of 2001, which was taught by a visiting professor, Dr. Sadeghi. In this
course, the instructor indicated that there was no real distribution among the students
in terms of grades. So, an alphabetical class list was obtained and, starting with the
first student on the list, every second student was selected to participate in the test
group. In this course, the DVD project was not presented as a required assignment.
As a result, of 11 students selected to participate in the test group, only four of those
actually worked with the program. Once again, the students were videotaped over
their shoulders to show the computer screen only, and notes were taken by an
observer present during the sessions. The students who attended the computer
sessions were also given surveys to complete to determine how they felt about the
program, and its usefulness in teaching the concepts that it covered. A copy of the
survey form is included in Appendix C. In this case, the students who worked with
43


the program were not assigned the problems that were associated with the program.
For these students, the DVD that was used was all-inclusive, but was not the final
version of the proof of concept program, so it did contain some quirks and bugs.
Again, the initial intent of this data collection was for the evaluation of the
program. In this case, not only was the sample size small, but only qualitative tools
were available for assessment purposes (eg. student surveys, notes on usage). The
studies did provide further information on general student usage of the program, as
well as student attitudes toward the program.
In order to assess the preliminary data on student use of the program, the notes
from the computer sessions were transcribed and supplemented with additional
information seen in the videos of the student sessions. Student use of the program
was sorted into two general categories: students who took a linear approach to the
program, viewing one section (media format) in its entirety before moving on to
another section, and students who took a hypermedia approach, going back and
forth between media formats.
In order to assess the preliminary data on student performance, the homework
problems completed by the students in Dr. Weavers class were evaluated.
Specifically, a comparison of student performance on the common homework
problem was made between the test group and the control group. The common
homework problem was a two part problem; the first part was a theory-based
calculation problem, and the second part was a short answer problem. The students
44


were rated as correct if they were successful in setting up the problem, and had no
errors to only minor (unit conversion) errors. The students were rated as incorrect
if they were unable to successfully set up the problem.
On the short answer part of the common problem, the student responses were
evaluated using qualitative judgment in order to determine whether or not the students
had given the correct answers. For example, if the students seemed to have the
general idea, they were rated as correct. If, on the other hand, the students made no
mention of relevant concepts, they were rated as incorrect. The answers to this
problem were also evaluated based on the level of depth that the students went into
with their explanations.
In addition to the comparison made on the common problem, an evaluation
was made regarding student performance on the other problems completed by the test
group, which are the other problems that are included in the program. These
problems included two more short answer problems, and two data-based graphical
problems. For these, as for the short answer portion of the common problem, a
qualitative judgment was made between correct and incorrect, based on whether the
student appeared to have a good understanding of the concepts in general. Students
whose answers hit on the key points required for explaining the results were
considered to have a good understanding of the concepts. Again, the problems were
also evaluated in terms of depth of the explanations given by the student.
45


Evaluation of the Proof of Concept Program Individual Student Use of the Program
The data obtained in the preliminary studies resulted in slight modifications in
the experimental design for the final study of individual use of the program. The first
thing that was realized during the evaluation of the preliminary data was that there
were multiple questions being asked in the original study, such as do the students
benefit from the program because it gives a practical application of the technology?,
or do the students benefit from the program because the visual imagery allows for a
deeper understanding of the concepts?, or do the students benefit from the use of
the program because of the additional time spent on learning the material, since it is a
supplement to the regular classroom lecture?. The final study was therefore
structured to focus on just one question, Do the students benefit from the program
because it provides a practical application of the theory?.
In the preliminary study, the DVD program was used in addition to in-class
materials by the test group. The control group had no further instruction time outside
of the normal classroom. There was a concern that the additional time spent with the
material by the students in the test group may have skewed the performance data in
favor of that group. In order to reduce the difference in time on task in later studies,
the students in the control group were given a text-based alternative to the program to
review as a supplement to the in-class material, which covered the Physical
46


Chemistry concepts covered by the program, but had the information on how those
concepts were applied in the real world removed.
In order to help answer the question of whether the practical application of the
theory benefited students, the theory packets were designed to contain generally the
same information as was provided in the DVD program. However, it was presented
in a manner that removed as much of the practical application as possible without
losing the vital theoretical information.
Comparison of student performance was difficult for the preliminary data, as
the student performance was generally equivalent for the calculation portion of the
common problem, and there was only a slight difference in performance for the short
answer portion of the common problem. In evaluating the other problems that were
given to the DVD group, it was noticed that some students provided an unexpected
level of depth and understanding of the concepts. It was therefore preferable to give
both groups a full problem set of common problems. The problems that were given
to both groups in this study were very similar to those provided in the program, but
wording that was specific to the DVD program was removed, in order to make the
problems themselves slightly less application based.
The surveys that were completed by the CU-Boulder students provided a large
amount of information on the students attitudes toward the program. Therefore,
surveys were included as part of the packet given to the participants in the final study.
There were slight modifications made to the surveys in this study, compared to that
47


used in the preliminary study. Copies of the surveys for the participants in the final
study are available in Appendix D and Appendix E, respectively. The surveys for the
two groups who participated in the final study differ by the inclusion or exclusion of a
the following questions, Would you have used this program in the same way if it
was a take home assignment? In what ways would you have used it differently?.
This occurred due to an inadvertent exclusion of this question from the survey
prepared for the first test group. This was later corrected.
It was realized that based on a students learning style, it may be expected that
certain types of learners would benefit more from the use of this type of program than
others. In order to try to correlate student personality type/leaming style to their
performance, the CU-Denver students in the Spring, 2002 study were asked to
complete a version of the Myers-Briggs Personality indicator test, which was
available through the CU-Denver website at the following address:
www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/Jtypesl.htm
A copy of the test is included in Appendix F. Essentially, the test included a
series of yes or no questions, and upon completion of the test, the students were given
information on their personality types, as evaluated based on the Myers-Briggs
criteria. The students were asked to hand in a printout of their results as a part of
their homework assignments. The data from these personality tests were evaluated in
order to assess the individual students learning style. That assessment was then
compared to their actual use of the program, in order to see if the students used the
48


program in a manner that somehow correlated to their personality and learning style,
as determined by the Myers-Briggs test.
Another change to the experimental design was to increase the sample size.
This was accomplished not by doubling the number of classes that were included in
the testing, but instead by working with each student twice, once as a member of the
test group and once as a member of the control group. For this study, which was
performed in Spring Semester, 2002, Dr. Larry Andersons second semester p-chem
course at CU-Denver was chosen. Near the beginning of the semester, the group was
randomly split in half, with one half designated as the test group and the other half as
the control group. The students in the test group in this portion of the study worked
with the AFM module on the DVD program, while the control group received theory
packets on AFM. Later in the semester, the study was performed on the SERS
module, with the students from the control group in the AFM module as the test
group with the SERS module, and vice versa. The students were not ranked going
into this study. The hope was that since each of the students would have the
opportunity to participate in the test group for one module and the control group for
the other module, benefits to a particular student resulting from use of the program
would be apparent.
Once again, the project was presented as a class assignment, in which the test
group would spend ~2 hours working with the program, and would then complete the
problems associated with the program. It was intended that the control group in each
49


case would spend a similar amount of time reading the provided packets. The
students in the test group were given the problem sets when they arrived for their
computer session. The students in the control group were given the theory packets
and problem sets in class.
The computer sessions were video-taped, with the camera positioned over the
students shoulder to focus on the video screen. In addition to the video taping, an
observer was present during the computer sessions, both to help answer questions
regarding program usage, and also to take notes on student usage, student comments,
etc. The computer sessions were run generally in the same manner as in the
preliminary study, giving the students a general description of the program when they
arrived, recommending that they begin by viewing the introduction video, and
encouraging them to use the program in whatever manner they wished. Students
were allowed to work on the homework problems during the session, or take them
home, at their own discretion.
The program version used in this study was a complete version, which
generally had a seamless connection between the DVD and theory portions. All
animations, graphs, etc. were included in the program in the videos/animations
section.
Once again, the notes from the computer sessions were transcribed and
supplemented with additional information seen in the videos of the student sessions.
Because each student in the CU-Denver course completed a Myers-Briggs personality
50


assessment, the student use data were evaluated in comparison with each students
predicted learning style. The student use of the program was again sorted into two
main categories. The first category includes students who took a linear approach
toward the program, and the second category includes those who took a hypermedia
approach.
The assessment of student performance on the homework was similar to that
performed in the preliminary studies, comparing performance between the test group
and the control group. On a calculation problem, students were rated as correct if
they were successful in setting up the problem, and had no errors to only minor (unit
conversion) errors. They were rated as incorrect if they were unable to successfully
set up the problem.
On short answer or data-based graphical problems, if the student were able to
describe the key concepts required to answer the questions, they were rated as correct.
In this study, these students were separately categorized from the students who
appeared to be on the right track toward the correct answer, but whose explanations
were incomplete. If, the student made no mention of relevant concepts, they were
rated as incorrect. The answers to these problems were also evaluated based on the
level of depth that the student went into with their explanations.
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Evaluation of the Proof of Concept Program Multiple Users in a Laboratory Setting
The DVD program is intended for use as a supplement to a normal classroom
experience. The specific use of the program is really at the discretion of the instructor
of the course. While some instructors may prefer to incorporate this program into the
curriculum by using it as a take-home tool for the students, others may prefer to
include the program in a more controlled environment, such as in a laboratory or
recitation period.
An additional study was performed in order to evaluate differences in student
use in a classroom setting with multiple computers/students, compared to a single
student in an isolated setting. Two groups of students were included in this study,
both of which were taught by Dr. Richard Schwenz at the University of Northern
Colorado (UNC) in the Spring of 2002. The first group of students was part of a
standard, second semester Physical Chemistry course. There were five students
enrolled in this course at the time the DVD testing took place. However, one of those
students dropped the course the week after the DVD testing and never completed a
homework assignment. The prerequisites for this course included one year of Physics
and three semesters of Calculus. This is a required course for students majoring in
Chemistry.
The second group of students was part of an abbreviated Physical Chemistry
course in which the entire years worth of Physical Chemistry topics was covered in a
52


single semester. There were fourteen students in this group. The prerequisite for this
course was one year of algebra-based Physics. This course is primarily offered for
students pursuing degrees in Education, Sales, Pre-Med, and other non-chemistry
majors.
For both of these groups, the students were ranked based on their scores in the
class at the date of the computer testing. Starting with the student at the top of the list,
every second student going down the list was chosen to participate in the test group
for the class, as was done in the preliminary studies at CU-Denver. The other
students made up the control group. The homework assignment (and text-based
alternative to the DVD program for the control group) was given as an assignment to
be completed during a laboratory period. The students were also given personality
tests as a part of the homework packet. However, only a few students actually
completed this portion of the assignment.
There were at least three students in the room at the beginning of each
computer session, all working on their own computer. For the first group, which was
the special topics class, the students listened to the dialog through the computer
speakers. Since this appeared to be distracting to some students, headphones were
purchased for use with the second group of students (from the standard Physical
Chemistry course). The computer sessions were both videotaped, and documented
by an observer. Due to difficulty in focusing on multiple screens, however, the notes
53


taken by the observer during the sessions proved to be more valuable than the video
tapes for assessing student use of the program.
When the students entered the session, they were given a general description
of the program and its layout. It was recommended, as in previous studies, that they
begin with the introduction video, since it serves as a good lead-in to the individual
modules. The students were encouraged to work with the program in whatever way
they chose.
The problems were given to the test group at the start of the computer session,
and problems and theory packets were given to the control group at the beginning of
the laboratory period as well. Both the problem sets and the theory packets were the
same as those given to the CU-Denver students for the AFM module. The students at
UNC only worked with the AFM module.
Surveys were also given to the test group in an effort to leam more about how
the students felt about the program. These were also valuable as a supplement to the
notes taken on student usage. A copy of the survey for the UNC students is available
in Appendix D. Assessment of the homework assignments completed by the control
group and the test group was performed in the same manner as for the CU-Denver
students.
Table 3 summarizes the different studies that were performed as a part of the
assessment of the program. The differences between studies primarily resulted from
54


a change in the study hypothesis between the preliminary studies and the final study,
and from differences in the course structure (single users vs. multiple users).
Table 3 Summary of Student Populations
Group*/ School Semester Studied # in test group # in control group Divided by course rank Student Surveys Personality Assessment Common Homework Problems # of users in the room during testing
Pl/CU- Denver Spring, 2001 7 8 Yes No No 1 1
P2/CU- Boulder Summer, 2001 4 0 No Yes No 0 1
Fl/CU- Denver Spring, 2002 7 7 No Yes Yes 4-5 1
F2a/ UNC Spring, 2002 6 8 Yes Yes** Yes** 4-5 3
F2b/ UNC Spring, 2002 2 2 Yes Yes** Yes** 4-5 3
* P1 and P2 designate that the study was part of preliminary data collection. FI and F2 designate that
the study was part of the final data collection.
**Given as part of the assignment, but not completed by all students
55


CHAPTER 3
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Problems with the Program Itself
The preliminary student computer sessions revealed several bugs within the
program. As was mentioned earlier, for the first group of CU-Denver students, the
videos were on a DVD, while the rest of the program resided on the hard drive of the
computer program. While the students in this group were still able to work between
the videos and the rest of the program to some extent, it was not quite as seamless as
when the entire program is incorporated onto one disk. Also, in the version of the
program used by these students, not all of the DVD control buttons were functional.
As a result, they were unable to stop, rewind, or fast-forward through any video
sections. These issues were resolved prior to the computer sessions with the CU-
Boulder group of students, and for later testing of CU-Denver and UNC students in
the Spring of 2002. The web-based format was intended to allow students to travel
from one section of the program to another by selecting the web-link that they were
interested in. However, several students involved in the preliminary study came
across links that were not properly set, and as a result led either to a dead end, or to an
incorrect page.
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The CU-Boulder students were able to use an all-inclusive DVD version of
the program. However, the program tended to lock up during some of the video
segments. It is unclear at this time whether this was caused by limitations of the
program, or limitations of the computer that was used for the computer session. This
will need to be investigated. If it was a function of the computer, it will be necessary
to specify system requirements with the program when it is distributed.
Most of these issues were addressed in a program update issued just after the
preliminary studies were completed. There were two links that were still problematic
for the students in Spring 2002. However, these issues are minor, and should be
resolved prior to release of the next program update.
Student Reactions to the Program Surveys
The students reactions to the program were studied in two ways. In all
studies, the computer sessions were videotaped, and notes were taken on both the way
the students used the program and any comments that were made by the students
regarding the formatting of the program, content, etc. Additionally, with the
exception of the first preliminary group of CU-Denver students, a survey was
provided to be completed after the computer session.
The surveys proved to give an interesting picture of student impressions of the
program, as summarized in Table 4. Many students went into a great amount of
57


detail in answering the questions. There were slight modifications to the surveys
between those given to the CU-Boulder students, those given to the UNC students,
and those given to the CU-Denver students (Spring 2002), as can be seen in the
examples in Appendix D and Appendix E, respectively. However, the majority of the
questions were common to all groups.
Table 4 Summary of General Impressions on the Program as Indicated by
Survey Responses
Module AFM SERS
# (%) of Positive Responses 8 (50%) 4 (66.7%)
# (%) of Neutral Responses 7 (43.8%) 2 (33.3%)
# (%) of Negative Responses 1 (6.3%) 0
The first question on the survey was What were your general impressions of
the DVD program?. The responses to this question appeared to be at least partially
dependent on which module the students worked with. The responses to this question
by students who worked with the SERS module were in the range of positive to
neutral. As an example of the positive side, one student commented that the
program is really helpful in understanding the topic provided within the DVD menu.
Also, the animation and video section is a good demonstration and stimulation to
understand the topic. Another student included the comment enjoyable with a lot
of potential. Other students made more neutral comments, for example, Very
informative somewhat overwhelming to have to go through it all in such a short
period of time.
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The comments made on the AFM module, however, covered a much broader
range. Comments included very positive statements, such as I really enjoyed the
potential to access and control both text and video presentations of a new technique.
They also included mixed statements, for example, I thought the quality of the
program was good although it was a bit over my head on most of the concepts.
Perhaps if it covered the basic material a little more in depth it would be more helpful.
Generally I was not excited about the DVD program, I didnt see the application of
the material to the general concepts of the course.
More than one student echoed the sentiment that the AFM material was over
their head, or that they felt that they needed more background information on the
topic. Two students specifically pointed out that they found the SERS materials
generally easier than the AFM module. These points may indicate that the higher
level of enthusiasm toward the SERS module stems from a greater feeling of success
at understanding the concepts.
The second question (in the Spring 2002 surveys) asked the students to
describe their navigation through the program. This question was included in the
survey in anticipation of the study in which multiple users would be present, in the
event that usage patterns could not be adequately recorded by the video camera and
the observer. The responses on this question varied significantly. The specifics of
these responses are included in the later discussion on student use of the program.
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The next question on the survey asked the students what their favorite aspects
of the program were. Out of the 22 students who completed surveys between the CU-
Denver class (Spring, 2002), the UNC class (Spring, 2002) and the CU-Boulder class
(Summer, 2001), 18 students made specific mention of the visual portions of the
program (eg. the videos and/or the animations) in answering this question. Several
students made reference to very specific components of the visual portions, including
a student who worked with the AFM module who specifically mentioned the
computer animated images of the structure of the silicon layer and islands, and a
student who worked with the SERS module who cited the animations (graphs, etc)
and the actual presentation on how the spectrophotometer works
Another aspect of the program that was cited by four of these 18 students was
the relevance of the subject matter to real life. For example, one student from the
CU-Denver course who worked with the AFM module commented that .. .it was
certainly interesting to hear researchers talk about their fields. It gave a certain air of
excitement to the presentation that might have been absent if done by only one
professor.
The students least favorite aspects of the program varied somewhat among
the different classes, primarily due to the state of the program for each testing period.
As was mentioned earlier, the program version used by the students at CU Boulder
was still at an early stage in the revision process. Of the four students surveyed from
60


this course, three of them made specific reference to the program bugs, for example
rebooting when frozen, or that some links didnt work well.
There were also some comments that seemed to be module specific. For
example, a two of the seven students in the CU-Denver class (Spring 2002) who
worked with the AFM module commented in this section on the difficulty of the
material. One of these students, whose general impression of the program was that it
was pretty neat, commented that It was too technical. A slower explanation with
more background on topics would help. As it stands, I dont have a clue what the
whole thing was about.
Other dislikes of the program were a little more general, for example, one
student simply stated as his least favorite aspect, reading the text. A few more
specific criticisms of the text were made as well, including the fact that the theory
section was almost the same script the video covered, and I wish the graphics
[graphs] could have been incorporated into the theory section when they were
discussing results of the experiments. Although these last two items were only
mentioned in the surveys by two students, similar comments were made by several
students during the computer sessions.
The next two questions on the survey asked the students whether they found
the navigation through the program intuitive or difficult, and in what ways the
program could be improved. The students took the opportunity in these questions not
only to give feedback on the current state of the program, but also to offer creative
61


suggestions for improvement. There seemed to be a pretty even split between those
who found it easy to use and those who had difficulties. While there were very few
students (3/18) who found the program navigation difficult in its entirety, all of the
students had at least some degree of difficulty with the video menus, and a few (5/18)
who specifically commented on the survey regarding the structuring of the video
menu. The video menu is a two page menu, and after each individual video plays, it
defaults back to page one of the menu. As a result, there were several students who
either missed the 2nd video menu page and had to ask the observer a question, such as
isnt there more?, or who intended to select video 2 on the 2nd video menu page, but
accidentally selected video 2 on the 1st video menu page, and ended up watching a
video, out of sequence, that they had already viewed. Another common problem with
the video menu was the color coding. The video menus are set up with two different
colors for the titles, where one color signified an interview session, and the other
color indicated a laboratory session. However, this was not explained within the
program. One student commented that at first she thought that the videos in the first
color were ones she had already viewed (since she started the program by viewing an
introductory video, and the first SERS video heading was also introduction). So, she
started by viewing the third or fourth video in the series. When she noticed that the
videos she did view did not change color, she went back and viewed those videos.
She suggested that we may be able to improve the program by just changing the
coloration of this menu so that it show which videos have and have not been viewed
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instead of signifying the presence or absence of a laboratory within that section.
Unfortunately, this change is not technically feasible at this time.
In answer to the next question of the survey, suggestions for program
improvements were varied. Two of the students stated that they would prefer a
format that would allow them to link to a video or animation on a topic directly from
a theory page, instead of having to navigate from the Theory section to the
Animations/Videos section. Two students suggested, as an improvement to the
program, the inclusion of a brief section regarding the program navigation for those
who needed it. It may be useful to even put in a Help link at the top of the page,
especially as the program expands to include additional modules. Three of the
students who had worked on the AFM module, commented throughout the survey
either that they wanted more background information included within the program, or
that they were unable to see how the material related to what they were learning in
class. The intent of this program is as a supplement to a normal physical chemistry
course. These types of comments from students indicate the importance of
appropriately integrating the program into the curriculum. These comments may
have been specific to the AFM module compared to the SERS module because the
students had begun to study Raman spectroscopy in class the same day that the first
of the students worked with the program. As a result, perhaps the correlation between
the program and their course materials was easier to recognize.
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The final survey question, which was only included on the surveys for
students in the CU-Denver (Spring, 2002) class, asked the students whether they
would have used the program in the same manner if they had the opportunity to work
with it at home as opposed to working with it in a single computer session. Almost
all of the students (11/12 who answ ered this question) stated that they would have
used it differently. Two of them specifically stated that they would have liked to go
back to the program after their first review of it, either in the general sense or as a
reference while they were working on their homework (most of these students chose
not to work on the homework during the computer session, although time was allotted
for that purpose). Three students said that they would have taken more time to get
familiar with the program layout and navigation, and working with the program in
general.
During the computer sessions, several of the students from both classes gave
unsolicited comments on the program. Comments on the theory pages and the video
formatting were discussed above along with the responses to the survey questions.
Other comments that were made by the students were statements of personal
preferences, or just general comments about the program. One student who viewed
the entire video series rather than viewing the videos section by section commented
that he had difficulty focusing towards the end of the series, and if he were required
to view the AFM module as well, he would view the videos one by one. It is
generally recommended, when creating programs which include hypertext and
64


hypermedia, that videos and other such materials are formatted into short segments to
help break things up, allowing students to increase their attention through a video
series (Martin, 1990 and Nielsen, 1990).
Another student commented that he thought .the transition from the scenery
shown in the introductory video, filmed in Canyonlands National Park, to the
videos with the professor was too dramatic. There is a large contrast between the
two videos, since the introduction video begins with almost a Hollywood style
backdrop, panning from mesas to cliffs, and rock formations, with soothing music in
the background. The videos within the module generally focus on the professor, with
a much milder backdrop, no background music, and a presentation of more detailed,
technical information. That same student also remarked that he found it confusing to
switch back and forth between scientists within a video series.
Additionally, several students made comments regarding the subject matter
that was chosen. Three of the students mentioned that they really enjoyed the
introduction video because they had been out to Canyonlands for a recent vacation.
A few of the students also said that they thought the application of SERS to studying
brain trauma was very interesting because they had a goal to eventually work in the
biomedical field.
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Student Use of the Program Single User
The patterns employed by the students as they worked on the DVD program
can effectively be broken down into two major categories. The first category
included the students who proceeded through the program in a linear fashion. They
started with either the Animations/Videos section or the Theory section, and when
they had completed that section, moved on to the next section. This first category
was further split into sub-categories designated as Linear and Generally Linear. The
Linear students not only went through the first media form in its entirety (in order)
before continuing to the next, they also went through the second media form in its
entirety (in order). The Generally Linear students, on the other hand, took a linear,
organized approach at the beginning, but may have deviated from that approach after
they had completed the first media form.
The second category included the students who moved between the Theory
and Animations/Videos and problems sections whenever they felt it was necessary to
get the information they were looking for. These students also often viewed theory
and/or video pages in no particular order. Within the second category, there was a
further subdivision of students, based on whether they truly navigated back and forth
from one medium to another (Unstructured), or if they simply did not complete the
first of the media forms before moving on to the next (Hypermedia). Students in the
CU-Denver and UNC classes were able to travel back and forth between
66


Animations/Videos, Theory and Problems. The students in the Summer course at
CU-Boulder generally did not view the problems since they were not required by the
instructor as part of the course. The distribution of students between these two
categories for students who used the program in an individual setting is shown in
Table 5. The UNC students are evaluated later as part of the discussion on multiple
users.
Table 5 Categories for Student Use of the Program
Aspects of Category # of students in category (preliminary data*) # of students in category (CU-Denver Spring 2002)
Category I Students completed one section (theory or video) before moving on to the next Linear Generally linear 1/11 (9.1%) 4/11 (36.4%) 2/14(14.3%) 7/14 (50%)
Category II Students navigated between videos, theory, and problems (when applicable) Unstructured Hypermedia 3/11 (27.3%) 3/11 (27.3%) 0/14 (0%) 5/14 (35.7%)
Preliminary data include the students from the Spring 2001 course at CU-Denver and the Summer 2001 course at
CU-Boulder.
There was a reasonably even split between the two major categories in the
preliminary data. These data may have been skewed by difficulties with the program
itself. Generally, when the videos locked up, the students went to the theory section
to view that, and then tried the videos again later.
In the Spring of 2002, on the other hand, there was a strong preference toward
a linear approach. There were fewer students within this data set who had
67


navigational problems, with the exception of finding their place on the DVD menu. It
is therefore likely that there were fewer unintentional unstructured approaches to
the program.
The students in the Spring courses at CU-Denver (both in 2001 and 2002)
were told when they were given the assignment that they were required to complete
the problems that were associated with the program. The students in the Spring 2002
course at UNC were instructed that the assignment was an extra credit assignment. In
the preliminary group (Spring 2001), only four of the seven students made any effort
to utilize the program for solving the problems. The first of these students read
through all of the problems first, and then took notes on those problems while
viewing the videos and reading the theory sections. This student performed generally
well, but kept all of her short answer questions very short. She also neglected to
complete the calculations in a problem covering SERS general theory.
Two of these four students went through the Theory and Animations/Videos
sections first, then moved on to the problems. As they got to questions they were
unsure how to answer, they referred back to the relevant theory pages included in the
module. It is surprising that one of these students did not bother to turn in the
homework assignment, even though he had completed most of the work during the
session. The second student had difficulty throughout the problem set, especially on
the short answer questions.
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The last of these students, after viewing the introductory video, only read one
or two theory sections before moving on to the videos. She did, however, watch each
video section twice and take notes for the sections that had the same titles as the
problems. This student also performed well on the homework, but was unable to
answer a short answer question about the intensities of Stokes lines vs. anti-Stokes
lines.
Conversely, the students who had the most complete answers to the short
answer problems did little more than glance through the homework problems during
the computer sessions. It is unclear why these students were able to give more
complete answers on these problems. These students may have been better able to
focus on learning the material because they did not worry about taking notes. It is
also possible that these students are the ones who generally perform well in this type
of course, and therefore did not take notes due to a high level of confidence.
In the Spring, 2002 CU-Denver course, twelve of the fourteen students at least
looked over the problems at some point during the computer sessions. However, out
of the 12 who did look over the problems, five did nothing beyond the initial perusal.
The other seven students took notes on the problems during the computer session.
Of the students who worked with the AFM module, four of seven took notes
during either the theory or the videos. Whether or not the students experienced any
benefit from this action is unclear.
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As was discussed, there were three primary types of problems; the
application-based short answer problems, the theory-based calculation problems, and
the data-based graphical problems. The greatest difference in performance between
the note takers and the non-note takers for this module was seen in question 1, which
is a three part application based short answer problem that covers the topic of Surface
Free Energies, as shown below:
1. Surface Free Energies
Under the topic of surface free energies there is a discussion involving the growth
of the epilayer on a silicon substrate. It is stated that if the surface free energy of
the epilayer, plus the free energy associated with the formation of the interface is
lower than that of the substrate, the epilayer will wet the substrate and growth will
proceed layer by layer initially.
A) What will happen if the surface free energy of the epilayer plus that for the
formation of the interface is higher than the surface free energy of the
substrate?
B) Explain this phenomenon using thermodynamics.
C) How does this help to explain what you see in the Arsenic coverage data (see
problem titled Arsenic Data)?__________________________________________
On this problem, two of the three students who only glanced at the homework
did very well on sections A and C of the problem, giving both correct and complete
responses. Most of the other students had the general idea on the problem, but missed
at least one segment of it completely. So, the students who did not take notes during
the theory or videos generally scored higher on this problem, with one exception.
There was one student who took extensive notes on the theory and video sections,
going back through certain videos two and three times. Her answers were very
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accurate as well. Comparison of her answers to the script from the module videos
revealed that her extensive note taking actually involved copying the information
provided in the program almost word for word.
The next two problems in the series were calculation-based problems. There
was no apparent advantage or disadvantage to taking notes on the problems during
the theory and video segments.
In the last two problems, which required the students to analyze data
graphically and then comment on their graphs, there were no obvious differences
between the students who had taken notes during the theory and videos section and
those who had just glanced at the problems at the beginning of the session, with two
exceptions. The first exception was the student who had copied from the videos word
for word in the first problem. This student appeared at first to exhibit an excellent
understanding of the concepts on both of these problems. However, once again some
of the wording was very similar to that given in the videos and theory pages, so it is
unclear whether this truly represents an understanding of the concepts compared to an
ability to find the correct portion of the text to match up with the problems.
The other exception was a student who only glanced at the problems at the
beginning of the session. This student seemed to have difficulty making a connection
between the theories that were presented in the program (and possibly in class as
well), and the actual data set. For example, in her data analysis on this problem, she
made the following statement, The graph of the size of the islands vs. the
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temperature indicates that there is no correlation. However, the theory states that
with increasing temperature the size of the islands should increase and the
temperature? should decrease? this does hold true for the first three points, and the
fourth point is so close in value to the third point that either could be a little off. It is
interesting that this student assumed that there must be a problem with at least one of
the last two data points, instead of considering that there may be diminishing returns
as temperature continues to increase. This student did take notes while working with
the program, but the specifics of what she wrote down is unknown. She appears to be
holding so tightly to the theory that increased temperature leads to increased island
size that she fails to consider that this may be a phenomenon of diminishing returns
(e.g. at lower temperatures, slight temperature increases make a larger difference in
the island size than at the higher temperatures). This may have resulted from the
notes that she recorded for later use.
There were no apparent advantages or disadvantages for the students working
on the SERS module relating to whether or not they took notes on the problems
during the computer sessions.
Student Use of the Program Multiple Users
In the testing performed at CU-Boulder and at CU-Denver, the students
worked on the program in a room with only one other person present the observer.
As a result, there was no opportunity for interaction between the student and their
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peers during the program use. The students at UNC, however, were given the
opportunity to work with the program in a laboratory setting, in which there were at
least three students working on the program, on individual computers, during each
session. The presence of the other students appeared to affect the way that the
students used the program.
The major effect of the presence of other students was the tendency to watch
someone elses computer. One student even went so far as to tap the shoulder of the
student next to him to ask how she got to where she was in the program. She was in
the videos section, and had chosen to watch entire module. After an explanation of
how to get there was given, he immediately followed the instructions to get to the
same place.
One obvious result of the interactions was that the students generally moved
into the videos segment, as soon as they noticed that the students around them were
doing so. Another observed result was that some students may have ended their
sessions more quickly than if they had been alone once the first student left, the
other students in the room looked around, and then finished shortly thereafter. While
most of the students entered into the theory pages, only two out of the nine that
worked with the program viewed more than one or two pages. One of those two
viewed only the pages that had the same titles as the problems.
It was interesting to look at the student use patterns between the two groups in
a general sense as well, because all of the students within each class used the program
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in essentially the same style. In the abbreviated Physical Chemistry course, the
students who worked with the computer all took a hypermedia approach, jumping
among videos, theory pages, and homework problems. In the standard second
semester Physical Chemistry course, on the other hand, five of the six students who
worked with the program took a linear approach. The sixth student took an approach
that was really mostly linear she viewed all of the videos in order, and then only
viewed a select few of the theory pages (generally those that related directly to
homework problems).
Because the students within each course approached the program in the same
manner, we will be unable to make conclusions regarding a relationship between
student use patterns and student performance on the homework problems. Student
use vs. performance on the homework can not fairly be compared between the two
classes, because it is presumed that the students in the second semester Physical
Chemistry course were slightly more advanced in the area of physical chemistry
compared to students in the abbreviated course; e.g. they had already completed one
semester Physical Chemistry, and were generally Chemistry majors, while the
students in the abbreviated Physical Chemistry course were generally non-Chemistry
majors, who had not taken any other Physical Chemistry courses. As a result, the
students in the standard Physical Chemistry course are expected to perform better
than those in the abbreviated Physical Chemistry course.
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For the UNC students in the abbreviated Physical Chemistry course, only two
of the three students who worked with the DVD program turned in the assignment.
The third student dropped the course prior to completion of the assignment. Of the
two students who remained in the course, one of them had taken notes on the
problems while using the program while the other did not. These two students both
performed well on the assignment, and no specific advantage or disadvantage could
be correlated to note taking during the use of the program.
In the UNC abbreviated physical chemistry course, none of the students took
notes during the computer sessions. As a result, no correlation can be made between
note-taking and performance on the homework assignments.
Student Personalities and Learning Styles Single Users
The students in Dr. Andersons Spring, 2002 course took Myers-Briggs
personality tests in addition to their participation in the computer sessions and
homework assignments. The test results were used to categorize the students into the
different learning styles as described by Silver and Hansen (Silver and Hansen, 1998).
It was theorized that some students may benefit more than others from the use of this
type of program, depending on which of the learning style categories they fell into
(Mastery style, Understanding style, Self-Expressive style, or Interpersonal Style).
Additionally, it is theorized that students who use the program in a manner that
compliments their learning style will see more benefit from its use. Evaluation of
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whether a students use of the program complimented their learning style was based
on the hypothesis that students who prefer an organized approach to learning in
general would approach the DVD program in a linear manner, while those who prefer
a more flexible environment would take a hypermedia approach to the program. This
theory is summarized in Table 6.
Table 6 Theorized Approach to Program Based on Learning Style
Style Major Attributes Hypothesized Approach to Program
Mastery Organized approach to new situations, prefer hands on learning environment, prefer to focus on practical applications of knowledge Linear
Under-standing Organized approach to new situations, prefer to draw their own conclusions, more concerned with logic than fact Linear
Self-Expressive Curious, Imaginative, prefer tasks that stimulate their creative nature, dislike tasks that are routine or require a systematic approach Hypermedia
Inter-personal Prefer to learn about topics that impact peoples lives, look for connection between topic and their personal experiences Hypermedia
Categorization of the students in the CU-Denver Spring 2002 course is shown
in Figure 11. It is important to note that several students, based on their scores on the
Myers-Briggs test, fell on the line between two learning styles. These students
would be expected to exhibit traits of both of those styles.
The majority of the students in the class fell into either the Mastery style or
the Understanding style. It is not surprising that students who favor the thinking
attributes over the feeling attributes are more prevalent in students pursuing a degree
in chemistry. However, the particular learning style of an individual does not
automatically determine the success or failure of a student within a program. It just
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illustrates the importance of providing tools to the students that will address their
specific needs.
Figure 11 Learning Styles, CU Denver P-Chem II Students, Spring 2002
Sensing (S)
Mastery Style
Interpersonal Style
Thinking
(T) '
o
A
A
X
Feeling
(FI

X
Understanding
t
Self-expressive
AFM module. Student 1
O AFM module, Student 2
AFM module. Student 3
AFM module, Student 4
AFM module, Student 5
O AFM module, Student 6
+ AFM module, Student 7
+ SERS module, Student 1
A SERS module, Student 2
A SERS module, Student 3
X SERS module. Student 4
X SERS module, Student 5
SERS module, Student 6
O SERS module, Student 7
Intuition (N)
As was discussed earlier, students who fall into the different learning style
categories will exhibit different characteristics and preferences regarding the
presentation of new information. For the purpose of assessment of the DVD program
as a tool for education, it is interesting to compare the information gathered on the
students learning style with their actual use of the program. This includes not only
looking at their approach to the program itself, but their resulting attitudes toward the
program, and ultimately their performance on the associated homework assignments.
The individual student learning styles, and their general reactions to the program, are
summarized in Table 7.
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Many of the students used the program in a manner that correlated to the
theory presented in Table 6. Seven out of the nine students who were of the mastery
or understanding learning style took a linear or somewhat linear approach to the
program. Three of the five students who were of the interpersonal or self expressive
learning styles generally took a hypermedia approach.
This was not true across the board. For example, AFM student 2 was rated by
the Myers-Briggs test as belonging to the Interpersonal learning style. Yet, when
using the DVD program, this student took a reasonably linear approach, by watching
the entire video portion of the program in order. When the video portion of the
program was complete, the student decided that she was finished with the program.
The student did not view any theory pages. It is interesting that this particular student,
who took an approach that did not match her learning style as it is described by Silver
et al, had generally negative comments regarding the program. It may be that this
students structured approach resulted in less enthusiasm toward the program.
This student commented that I thought the quality of the program was good
although it was a bit over my head on most of the concepts. Perhaps if it covered the
basic material a little more in depth it would be more helpful. Generally I was not
excited about the DVD program, I didnt see the application of the material to the
general concepts of the course. This comment reveals a key point. This student
was seeking a connection between the information that they were learning and her
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own experiences. In this case, the personal experience that she was trying to connect
the information to seems to be lecture course.
Table 7 Summary of Student Learning Styles vs. Use of the Program
Module/ Student # Myers-Briggs type/ strength Learning Style Student approach to program (linear vs. hypermedia) Student Reaction to program (based on answers to survey questions)
AFM/ student 1 ENTP / 11%, 67%, 44%, 11% Understanding Generally linear Generally positive
AFM/ student 2 ESFJ/ 56%, 1%, 33%, 33% Interpersonal Generally linear Generally negative
AFM/ student 3 ISTJ/ 11%, 56%, 33%, 22% Mastery Hypermedia Generally positive
AFM/ student 4 ENTJ/ 1%, 22%, 33%, 56% Understanding Linear No survey. Negative comment written on homework
AFM/ student 5 INFJ/ 78%, 44%, 33%, 67% Self Expressive Hypermedia Generally positive
AFM/ student 6 ENFJ/ 22%, 56%, 33%, 33% Self Expressive Hypermedia Generally positive
AFM/ student 7 INFP/ 44%, 44%, 33%, 33% Self Expressive Generally linear Generally positive
SERS/ student 1 ISTJ/ 11%, 1%, 33%, 67% Mastery Generally linear Generally positive
SERS/ student 2 INTJ/ 11%, 11%, 56%, 44% Understanding Generally linear Indifferent to negative
SERS/ student 3 ISTJ/ 11%, 1%, 44%, 22% Mastery Linear Indifferent
SERS/ student 4 ENTJ/ 1%, 22%, 22%, 44% Understanding Linear Indifferent
SERS/ student 5 INTJ/ 11%, 78%, 22%, 44% Understanding Generally linear No survey. Comments diming session were generally positive
SERS/ student 6 ISTP/ 22%, 11%, 11%, 33% Mastery Hypermedia Generally positive
SERS/ student 7 ISFJ/ 33%, 22%, 22%, 44% Interpersonal Hypermedia Generally positive
Another student whose use of the program did not complement his predicted
learning style was AFM Student 7. Unlike AFM student 2, this student had generally
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positive comments about the program. This particular student read all of the theory
pages, in order, before moving on to videos, which he also viewed in order. This is a
very organized, linear approach to the program. However, he did keep his homework
problems close at all times, and referred to them several times both during the theory
pages and during the videos. This student did indicate that he would have used the
program differently if this was given as a take home assignment, because .. .it is
somewhat distracting having someone watch/video tape you studying. This may
indicate that the student chose the more ordered approach to the program because he
felt uncomfortable being observed. He did not specify how he would have used the
program differently had there been no observer present.
The other two students whose use of the program varied from their learning
style as determined by the Silver and Hansen method were SERS student 6 and AFM
student 3. These students both fall into the mastery learning style, which according to
Silver and Hansen indicates that the student will prefer to take an organized approach
to a new task. However, the approach by SERS student 6 to the program appeared to
not be particularly methodical, since she viewed several videos out of order, and did
not read any theory pages. However, in the case of this student, the deviation from
the predicted approach may have more to do with difficulties with navigation through
the program than intentional actions. This student asked several times during the
computer session, Did I just view this?. She also did a significant amount of
rewinding and fast forwarding through the videos, presumably to find her place
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(this usually occurred when she selected a video shed already seen). This is
supported by her response to the survey question on how to improve the program,
When youre done with one video it would be nice to know what video is next. It
is unclear from this comment whether the student meant that she thought there was a
specific order that the videos must be viewed in, or simply that she could not tell
which ones she had already viewed. In spite of the difficulties with the navigation,
this student made mostly positive comments on the survey. For AFM student 3, the
issue may have been more that he did not want to have to actually read all of the
theory pages. When he saw all of the title headings, he turned and commented What
do they want us to do, read all of them?. Instead of reading them, he switched over
to the Videos/animations sections. From that point forward, he took a reasonably
linear approach. However, according to our theory of student use patterns as
described in Table 6, he still falls into the hypermedia approach category.
Of the students whose program use correlated to the theory presented in Table
6, six out of ten students (60%) made positive comments about the program itself.
Three out of the ten students (30%) made neutral comments. The tenth student
simply wrote the word Hated next to a sketch of a frowning face on her homework
assignment. It was unclear whether this comment was intended as a general
statement about the program, or if it referred to the homework assignment, or
something else entirely.
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Of the students whose program use did not correlate to the theory presented in
Table 6, three out of four (75%) made positive comments. Because the program
provides other advantages in addition to the choice of a linear vs. hypermedia
approach, it can be appreciated by users regardless of whether or not they follow their
predicted learning style during program use. The additional advantages include, but
are not limited to, the multimedia format and the practical application of the theory
and technology.
Analysis of Student Performance on Homework Problems Preliminary Data
In the Spring, 2001 physical chemistry course at CU-Denver, the students
were given problem sets to complete as a homework assignment. The students who
participated in the testing of the DVD program were given a problem packet that
came directly from the DVD program. Those who did not participate in the testing of
the DVD program were given a homework with similar types of problems, but that
were not specific to the material covered in the DVD program. One question,
covering general Raman theory, was given to both sets of students. The first part of
the problem was a simple calculation of the transmission spectrum of NH3 when
exposed to 532 nm radiation. All of the data required to solve this problem, including
equations for the selection rule and for the determination of the Stokes and anti-
Stokes lines, were given within the problem itself. The second part of the problem
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was a short answer question, given as follows: In general, why are Stokes lines
more intense than anti-Stokes lines?
It was theorized that exposure of the students to the DVD program, in addition
to the normal classroom lecture, would give the students a better understanding of the
physical chemistry concepts in Raman spectroscopy. Particularly, the student
understanding of the concepts was evaluated in terms of actual correctness (in
answering the calculation-based problem), and the depth of the explanation on the
short answer problem, compared to the students in the control group.
While the exact questions were not addressed in the DVD program, a brief
explanation of how the Stokes lines arise was included in both the video and the class
lecture. We theorized that this would give the students who viewed this video a better
grasp of the concept of Stokes lines in general, since they had the opportunity to learn
it from two sources. We therefore hoped to see a more complete explanation of these
concepts in the short answer portion of the problem for the students who worked with
the computer program (the test group) compared to those who didnt (the control
group). Students who completed the majority of the problem correctly, e.g. who used
the equations correctly, and appeared to understand the basic concepts but made
minor errors, were rated as answering the problem correctly. Those whose answers
did not demonstrate an understanding of the concepts or the use of the equations were
rated as incorrect. While there was a slight increase in the percentage of students
answering correctly in the test group, the numbers of students tested was too low to
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make this increase statistically significant and thus indicate any particular advantage
from the use of the program. The results for student performance on this problem are
shown in Table 8.
Table 8 Comparison of Student Performance on Common Homework Problem
Contro #correct Group # incorrect Test C #correct roup # incorrect
Calculation portion of problem 6 (86%) 1 (14%) 6(100%) 0
Short answer portion of problem 1 (14%) 6 (86%) 2 (33%) 4 (67%)
It appears from the data that almost all of the students were equally well
prepared to answer the calculation portion of the problem. Since they all had the
same exposure to material in lecture, there is no indication here that the program has
any additional positive or negative effect on the performance of these calculations.
The short answer problem was answered incorrectly by some of the students
in both groups. However, a higher ratio of students (2/6 vs. 1/7) answered this
problem correctly in the test group. Of the students who answered the problem
correctly, the answers included about the same amount of detail for those who were in
the test group compared to the control group.
This problem covers a very specific aspect of Stokes energies, and it is unclear
whether the lack of improved performance in the test group compared to the control
group resulted from the general difficulty of the question, or whether the information
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covered in the program was not specific enough to facilitate further understanding of
this concept.
The other problems completed by the test group were either application-based
short answer problems or data-based graphical/application-based short answer
combination problems. All of the problems given to the test group are available in
Appendix A. It is interesting to note that while most of the students performed well
on the short answer questions that had a visual component, only three students
performed well on the short answer questions with no visual component (which
includes the short answer question regarding the differences between intensities of
Stokes and anti-Stokes lines).
One question, titled Brain Trauma and EAAs, gave a discussion on some of
the physical and chemical properties of the amino acids discussed within the SERS
module. This particular problem was mostly in text format, with two molecular
structures provided for the compounds being discussed. The students were asked to
discuss the detrimental effects of the body regulating intra and extracellular Ca .
They were also asked about the potential detrimental effects of increased NO
production in the brain. Both of these topics were discussed within the theory and
video sections of the SERS module. The responses on this question were mixed in
terms of both quality and quantity. The majority of the students made at least an
attempt at an answer, but only one of the seven gave a really accurate response to this
question. This particular student gave a very extensive explanation of the
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phenomenon in question, which included diagrams. Another student, on the other
hand, gave almost no answer, and made the comment on her homework assignment
that this particular homework problem seemed more like biochemistry than physical
chemistry.
Five of the six students who worked with the program and completed the
homework problem set as part of the preliminary studies performed well on the data-
based graphical problems. The first of these questions required the creation of a
standard curve plot, followed by answering questions about the curve they had just
created, their choice of the peak that they plotted, etc. The second of these questions
required the students to graph data from actual experiments vs. time, to determine
based on these graphs when a particular event had occurred. The students were also
asked to calculate/estimate, based on their standard curve plots, at which point in time
the highest concentration occurred and what that concentration was.
The students who worked on these problems not only created accurate graphs
based on the data, they were able to answer questions and make appropriate
conclusions regarding the data. On the standard curve problem, two students had
difficulty dealing with and explaining the leveling off of their peak heights. It was
apparent that while the students understood the basic concept of how to construct a
standard curve, only about half of them realized that the peaks whose height did not
increase with increasing standard concentration were beyond the linear range of the
experiment, and should therefore not be included in a linear regression of the standard
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curve. This may indicate a lack of experience of some students with basic laboratory
technique.
When dealing with experimental sample data instead of just standard data, the
students demonstrated that they were capable of choosing peaks that could be tracked
through the entire data series. However, only two out of six chose peaks that
corresponded with those that were chosen in their standard curve plots, making it
possible to perform an accurate analysis of the sample concentration at any given
time through the series. The students also were able to accurately determine the point
during the experiment at which brain trauma was induced. This may indicate that the
subject matter was interesting to them, and held their attention through the related
theory or animations/video segments.
Analysis of Student Performance on Homework Problems CU-Denver, Spring 2002
The students in the CU-Denver course during the Spring of 2002 were treated
uniquely compared to the other classes. First of all, instead of trying to divide the
class between the test group and the control group based on their current grade in the
class, they were split randomly. The students who were in the test group at the
beginning of the semester worked with computer on the AFM module, while the
control group worked from written text. Towards the end of the semester, the groups
were switched, and the second test group worked with the SERS module on the
computer. The result of this format was that all of the students in the class were given
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the opportunity to work as part of the test group and as part of the control group at
one point or another, which would hopefully give the opportunity to determine
whether individual students benefited from the use of the DVD program.
A common set of homework problems was given to the students in both the
test group and the control group, in order to give a broader information database for
comparison of student performance.
For each module, the test group was given a two to two and a half hour time
slot in which they could work with the program in whatever way they chose. They
were given the opportunity to work on homework problems during this time, if they
chose to. The students in the control group were given a theory packet that covered
the same basic information as that covered in the program, but with the specific
application of the technology removed so that the information was presented in a
more theoretical format.
Although the DVD users were given between two and two and a half hours,
most students completed their computer sessions in about an hour. While several
students took notes on their homework assignments during the computer sessions, the
resources that were available to them for completing the homework assignments were
somewhat limited, since they only had their notes and their memories to rely on,
unless they did further research on the topic. The control group, on the other hand,
was given a text based alternative to the program, which they were able to take home
with them and use as necessary while working on the assignment. This is an
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important point to recognize as we enter the analysis of student performance on the
homework problems, especially since the majority of the students commented on their
user surveys that if the DVD program was given as a homework assignment, they
would have used it differently.
Because we have personality assessment data in addition to just the student
use data and the homework assignments, we have the opportunity to explore several
factors that may affect the ability of a student to utilize a program such as this for
educational purposes. Each problem is discussed individually, and the specific
components that appear to lead to success or failure on a particular problem are
evaluated.
AEM Homework Problem 1
The first homework problem in the AEM set was a three part short answer
question, which reads as follows:
AFM Problem 1
1. Surface Free Energies
Under the topic of surface free energies there is a discussion involving the growth
of the epilayer on a silicon substrate. It is stated that if the surface free energy of
the epilayer, plus the free energy associated with the formation of the interface is
lower than that of the substrate, the epilayer will wet the substrate and growth will
proceed layer by layer initially.
A) What will happen if the surface free energy of the epilayer plus that for the
formation of the interface is higher than the surface free energy of the
substrate?
B) Explain this phenomenon using thermodynamics.
C) How does this help to explain what you see in the Arsenic coverage data (see
problem titled Arsenic Data)?
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Part A of this question was answered correctly by all of the students. The
answer to this problem was provided directly in both the theory text viewed by the
control group, and in the theory pages included within the DVD program. It was
stated in the videos of the DVD program as well. The depth of response on this
question varied from a simple three word answer, Islands will form, to a brief
paragraph. The data was investigated for a correlation of the length/depth of the
answer to the student designation (test group vs. control group), program use
(organized approached vs. unstructured approach), or learning style. No correlations
were observed, perhaps indicating that all students were equally prepared for this
particular question.
Part B of this question was answered in a variety of ways. Some students
chose to describe the phenomenon using words, while others used equations for AG in
order to tr> Lo explain themselves. The best answer for this problem, at least based on
the information given in the theory packets and on the DVD program, would be
something to this effect:
When the epilayer is initially deposited on the Silicon surface,
it will deposit in a monolayer. The specific binding sites are like
energy troughs, or areas of lower energy on the surface. Diffusion
between these areas of low energy is prevented by an activation energy
barrier. In order to diffuse about the surface, the bound molecules
must gain enough energy to overcome this activation energy barrier.
A convenient way to impart this energy to the molecules is to increase
the energy of the system
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Several of the students in both the test group and the control group had
difficulty in answering this question. However, there were some common themes to
their answers, as shown in Table 9. On this part of the problem, the students in the
control group appear to have a higher incidence of correct responses, although there
are not enough students in the data set to draw a statistically significant conclusion.
Because the students in the control group were given a text based alternative to the
program that could be taken home, they may have had more time to sort through the
relevant information for this question.
Table 9 Evaluation of Responses to AFM question IB
Correct Answer activation energies Acceptable answer energetically more favorable for like molecules to island than to form monolayer Incorrect free energy explanation Incorrect other
Test Group 1* 2 1 3
Control Group 2 2 2 1
* Answer correct, but was copied close to word for word from text
There was no apparent correlation between correct/acceptable answers on this
question and learning styles or program use. Several students made an attempt to
describe the thermodynamics of the island formation using Gibbs free energy.
However, these students generally gave answers that were incomplete, and did not
demonstrate a good understanding of the topic. For example, one student stated the
following. AG would be positive making the reaction energetically unfavorable.
91