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Roy Tasker

The chemistry education research literature demonstrates that many student misconceptions are due to an inability to visualize substances and reactions at the molecular level, due mostly to misinterpretations of the meaning of chemical formulas and equations. We need to assist students to develop useful mental models of the molecular world to make sense of chemical concepts like equilibrium, entropy, chemical speciation, and hydrophobicity, and to make conventional symbolism meaningful. However, we know that we cannot do this by simply showing students complex visualizations, that portray our expert mental models of this world, and then just expect novices to adopt them for understanding chemistry concepts.

The challenge is to develop sequences of learning activities (learning designs), informed by an evidence-based cognitive model for how we learn from multimedia visualizations. Then we need sophisticated, interactive visualizations of molecular-level structures and processes that students can use to understand chemistry concepts. Our work to date is summarized on the VisChem project web site (, and implemented in learning resources in my co-authored textbook Chemistry: Human Activity, Chemical Reactivity (see Other interests include development and evaluation of teaching strategies based on pedagogical content knowledge, and effective communication of science to the general public using visualisation.


  • Ph.D., 1982, University of Otago
  • DipEd, 1978, University of Queensland
  • BSc, 1977, University of Queensland


  • Australian National Senior Teaching Fellowship, 2014
  • Appointed as a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, 2012
  • The Prime Minister's Award for Australian University Teacher of the Year, 2011
  • Invitation by the UK Higher Education Academy to present a two-week lecture tour on Molecular-Level Visualisation in Chemical Education to eight UK universities and the Royal Society of Chemistry, 2005
  • Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) Chemical Education Division Medal , 2002
  • Inaugural UWS Nepean Award for Excellence in Tertiary Teaching, 1999


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