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Chemical Education

Purdue University houses faculty and student groups studying factors affecting how students learn chemistry and how best to teach chemistry. Faculty members in our Division of Chemical Education are Professors Trevor Anderson, George Bodner, Marcy Towns, and Gabriela Weaver. These faculty, and their graduate students in the Division of Chemical Education, conduct research on various topics, including:

  • Problem solving
  • Instructional technologies
  • Alternative modes of instruction
  • Science Inquiry
  • Visual literacy
  • Classroom discourse analysis
  • Laboratory learning
  • Mathematics in physical chemistry
  • Climate literacy

There is also a strong international presence due to international collaborations and international students.


The faculty in chemical education have a wide range of research interests including student understanding of the particulate nature of matter, mathematics in physical chemistry, visualization of biomolecules, science literacy, climate literacy, student understanding of concepts in organic chemistry, and the goals of undergraduate laboratory. Transforming research findings into practices that impact educational environments connects our fundamental research to teaching methodologies. 

Division News

2013 ACS Award

Congratulations to Dr. Mary Nakhleh for being selected as the most recent recipient of the "ACS Award for Achievement in Research for the Teaching & Learning of Chemistry." Congratulations!

In April 2013, Prof. Nakhleh received the ACS Award for Achievement in Research for the Teaching and Learning of Chemistry sponsored by Pearson Education. Citation of the award is "for foundational work in student understanding of particulate nature of matter and visual representations of chemistry."


Prof. Marcy Towns

Murphy Awards: Marcy Towns

Making chemistry relevant to the lives of each of her students is one of Marcy Towns' main goials as a professor. Drawing upon her years of experience in the classroom, Towns creates lesson plans to help her students learn the chemistry which they can apply both to their majors and to experiences outside of the workplace.

"It doesn't matter what major they have or what professions they pursue, they will need to be scientifically literate . . . . more.

Upcoming Events in Chemical Education

Check back in August for the Fall 2014 list of seminar speakers.