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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. 

Faculty and Their Research Areas

Professor Anderson's research interests are in Visual Literacy, Science Inquiry, Concept Inventories, and Faculty & Curriculum Development and has a strong international flavor due to collaborations with experts in Australia, Sweden, South Africa, and Brazil, as well as the United States.

Professor Bodner's research interests are in problem solving, alternative modes of instruction, and the history and philosophy of science. In recent years, his group has worked in biochemistry as well as inorganic, organic and physical chemistry.

Professor Nakhleh's research interests focus on students' understanding of chemistry concepts and how that understanding is impacted by technologies, such as the web and scientific instrumentation.

Professor Towns' research interests encompass student understanding of mathematics in physical chemistry, classroom discourse analysis, faculty and student goals for undergraduate laboratory, climate literacy, and visualization of biomolecules.

Thesis Titles by Topic

Achievement and attitude

  • A Web-enhanced DVD as a supplement for teaching chemistry: Student affective and learning
    outcomes Science Concept Attainment in Second Language Learners
  • Student Use of Test-Wiseness Strategies on Chemistry Multiple Choice Exams
  • Students' Perceptions of Academic Dishonesty in a Chemistry Classroom
  • Text Anxiety in Chemistry: What Are the Causes and Possible Solutions?

Action research

  • A Critical Action Research Approach to Curriculum Development in a Lab-Based Chemical Engineering Course
  • Action Research as the Vehicle for Curriculum Change in Analytical Chemistry: A Longitudinal Study
  • Curricular Reformation in Computer-Based Undergraduate Physics Laboratories via Action Research
  • Enhancement of the Visualization of an Industrial Process Design and Evaluation


  • An Investigation of Students' Degree of Concept Links as a Function of Exposure to College Chemistry Courses: Assessment Using Concept Maps

Computers in chemistry instruction

  • An Investigative Look at the Experiences of Students Using the Computer in Science Classrooms: A Guide for Development
  • Can a game-based approach to instructional technology be effective for teaching chemistry?
  • Computers in Chemistry Instruction
  • Developing a Chemical Education Web-Site
  • Developing an Organic Chemistry Help Page Web-Site
  • Effects of Spreadsheets in General Chemistry Laboratory Experiments
  • Investigating Student Experiences with Web-Based Assignments in Laboratory Science Courses
  • Student Participation in World Wide Web-Based Curriculum Development of General Chemistry
  • The Effect of Drill Question Sequencing on Learning and User Satisfaction in Computer-Assisted Instruction in Molecular Geometry
  • The Effect of Machine-Modified Learner Control on Computer Tutorial User Performance and Motivation
  • Using distance learning approaches to teach chemistry: An examination of discourse in an online chat room
  • Web-Based Distance Education: Bridging the Gap Between Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Conceptual understanding

  • An Inventory for Measuring College Students' Level of Misconceptions in First Semester Chemistry
  • Concepts of Chemistry Among First-Year College Chemistry Students
  • Conceptual Understanding of Thermodynamics: A Study of Undergraduate and Graduate Students
  • Design of an Instrument to Reveal Subconscious Cognitive Processes During the Mental Rotation of Molecules
  • Investigation of Student Use of Web-Based Tutorial Materials and Understanding of Chemistry Concepts
  • Learning in Quantum Mechanics
  • Misconceptions About Thermodynamic Work Among Graduate Chemistry Students
  • Ontological Categorization in Chemistry: A Basis for Conceptual Change in Chemistry
  • Predicting the Products of Inorganic Reactions: A Study of Performance
  • Second-year Organic Chemistry Students' Conceptualizations of Mental Molecular Rotation
  • Students' Understanding of Chemical Equilibrium as Revealed by Algorithmic and Conceptual Problems
  • Students' Use of Lewis Electron Dot Structures to Describe Chemical Structure and Reactivity

 Correlations among cognitive variables and chemistry achievement

  • A Comparison of Low and High Spatial Ability Students Representation and Problem Solving Processes on Stoichiometry Questions
  • A Study of the Relationship Between Spatial Ability and Achievement in Two Organic Chemistry Courses
  • A Study of the Relationship Between Spatial Ability, Field Dependence-lndependence, and Achievement in Chemistry
  • A Study of the Relationships Between Spatial Ability, Sex and Success in General Chemistry
  • Spatial Ability, Hemispheric Specialization and Achievement in Chemistry

Gender issues

  • Male and Female Students in Chemistry: Are There Differences?
  • A Woman's Perceptions of Learning Chemistry

Instructional methodology

  • A Comparison of Virtual Models and Hands-on Models for Teaching Crystallography
  • A Manual to Supplement Pedagogical Approaches and Enhance Student Performance Levels in Advanced Placement Chemistry Programs
  • An Alternative Mode of Instruction: A Detailed Analysis of Three Units in Medicinal Chemistry
  • Comparing Different Visualization Methods for Teaching VSEPR: What is the effect on student learning?
  • Concept Maps and Molecular-Level Diagrams: Tools for Algorithmic Problem Solving
  • How Does Understanding Three-Dimensional Concepts and Figures Impact Visually Impaired Students' Learning?
  • Teaching Innovation in Organic Chemistry: An Inquiry into What Happens When the Lecturer Stops Lecturing
  • The Effect of Interactive Instruction and Lectures on the Achievements and Attitudes of Chemistry Students
  • The Effect of Structured Writing on Achievement, Time, and Accuracy with a General Chemistry Laboratory
  • The Use of Vee Diagramming Techniques with General Chemistry Students.

Learning in the laboratory

  • A Study of the Effect of Chromatography on Secondary Students' Understanding of Chromatography, Polarity, Mixtures and Solutions
  • How Students Use Spectrophotometric Instruments to Create Understanding.
  • Microcomputer-Based Labs: A Study of the Students' Perspective
  • Part I Synthesis, Characterization, and Reactivity of Novel Rhenium(V) Phosphine Complexes. Part II Efficacy of Computer-assisted Labs
  • The Impact of the Purdue Instrument Project on Secondary Chemistry Student Learning and Attitudes Towards Science
  • What Defines Effective Chemistry Laboratory Instruction? Student and Teaching Assistant Perspectives

Motivation and student beliefs about learning

  • An Investigation of the Relationship Between Student Cognitive Characteristics and the Use of Hypermedia Science Tutorials
  • The Effect of Student Motivation (Both Intrinsic and Extrinsic) on Student Performance in Chemistry

Problem solving at the undergraduate and graduate levels

  • A Qualitative Analysis of Graduate Student Problem Solving in Organic Synthesis.
  • A Recovering Organic Chemist's Attempts at Self-Realization: How Students Learn to Solve Organic Synthesis Problems
  • How Undergraduates Solve Organic Synthesis Problems: A Problem Solving Model Approach
  • The Role of Multiple Representation Systems in Problem Solving in Chemistry
  • Using Combined Spectral Analysis to Probe the Continuum of Problem Solving Ability

Student beliefs

  • How Chemistry Students Study for an Exam: A Phenomenographic Analysis
  • The Role of Beliefs in General Chemistry Problem Solving.
  • Understanding Arrow-pushing Formalism from a Student's Perspective

Teacher beliefs

  • Case Studies in the Adjustment in Teaching Style Required for Successful Instruction on Problem Solving
  • Enriching Pedagogical Content Knowledge of Prospective Chemistry Teachers: How Can the Science Methods Course Help?
  • Teacher's Beliefs About Science and Science Teaching: Narratives of Convictions, Actions and Constraints
  • The effectiveness of a teacher summer program to increase the amount of inquiry-based teaching in middle-school and high-school science classes
  • The Professional Development of Graduate Teaching Assistants in Chemistry

Use of analogies

  • Playing with a Double-Edged Sword: Analogies in Biochemistry
  • Use of Analogies in the Instruction of NMR Spectroscopy 

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