Chemistry

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Chemistry LearnLab Course

The chemistry LearnLab consists of three main sets of course materials, each of which are used at a variety of classroom sites:

  1. An online course in stoichiometry. This course is primarily used in high schools and as a review course for college introductory chemistry.
  2. Online virtual laboratories and scenario-based learning activities, that are distributed through the ChemCollective to more than 200 classrooms.
  3. Online modules covering topics such as chemical equilibrium, acid-base chemistry and design of acid-base buffers. Many of these modules were built to support studies proposed by PSLC researchers.

These materials include instructional videos, virtual laboratories, and pseudotutors. The activities span the topics covered in Carnegie Mellon's Modern Chemistry II course. Please see the course materials page for detailed information on this course, including all lecture notes, textbook reading, assignments, and assessments.

How to get involved

If you are a learning scientist, there are a number of ways to participate in the chemistry learnlab.

  1. You can build a study around existing material. For instance, a portion of the online stoichiometry course was modified in collaboration with the development team to create a study that compared personalized and impersonalized versions of the course videos.
  2. The materials development effort is driven by the needs of both instructors and learning scientists. Please contact the development team if you have requests for materials development.
  3. Analyze data deposited in the PSLC data shop by past learnlab studies. For instance, there is a large volume of data on students interacting with ChemCollective virtual laboratory.

The domain of chemistry provides an interesting set of concepts and tasks for learning science studies and we look forward to working with you. Please contact the chair of the chemistry learnlab committee with ideas you have for studies, and we'll do our best to provide you with appropriate materials and find a classroom site for your in vivo study.

If you are a chemistry instructor and would like to collaborate with PSLC researchers on learning studies, please contact David Yaron [yaron@cmu.edu]. You can become a site for an ongoing learnlab study, get in on the ground floor of a study that is currently under design, or propose a topic of interest and we will try to help you find appropriate collaborators to carry out your idea.

Details on Course Materials

This section gives additional details on the materials listed at the top of this page.

  1. Online course in stoichiometry.
    • Designed as a bridge course for refreshing incoming students who are enrolled in introductory chemistry at Carnegie Mellon. It is now available through the Open Learning Initiative and is getting increasing use in high school classrooms.
    • Contains instructional videos, interactive flash pseudotutors, activities with fall back scaffolding, and Virtual Labs.
    • Covers concepts ranging from dimensional analysis and the mole up through empirical formula determination and reaction stoichiometry. A complete list of concepts and procedures covered in the course is also available.
    • A full version of course is available for free at: http://www.cmu.edu/oli
  2. Online virtual laboratories and scenario-based learning activities, that are distributed through the ChemCollective.
    • Over 100 virtual lab and scenario based learning activities for use in introductory college and high-school chemistry courses.
    • Concepts covered include: molarity, stoichiometry, quantitative analysis, thermochemistry, chemical equilibrium, acids and bases, solubility. The activities span the topics covered in Carnegie Mellon's Modern Chemistry II course. Please see the course materials page for detailed information on this course, including all lecture notes, textbook reading, assignments, and assessments.
    • Any virtual lab activity can produce a detailed trace of student interactions with the lab.
    • Some of the materials combine virtual lab experiments with pseudotutors and other forms of support for problem solving. The development team will work with you to add such systems to any activity you would like to use in a study.
    • The ChemCollective was selected for a "Digital Dozen" in Eisenhower National Clearinghouse in 2005, was featured in Gameology in 2006 and was awarded "Highly Recommended" from Schoolzone in 2007. Our conservative estimates 200 instructors use the activities in their classroom. 14 instructors have contributed activities to the collection, and 40 have contributed feedback.
  3. Online course modules
    • Current modules cover chemical equilibrium, acid-base chemistry and design of acid-base buffers.
    • Designed by a team of chemists (Yaron, Karabinos), learning scientists (Davenport, Leinhardt, Greeno) and a learning technologist (Bunik).
    • Instructional design is grounded in and guided by cognitive science. This has led to materials based on various aspects of PSLC learning theory, and designed in a way that allows these theories to be tested and refined. From a domain perspective, this has led to a new approach to the teaching of chemical equilibrium and acid-base chemistry which initial evidence suggests substantially enhances student learning.
    • The current and planned modules cover the content of Carnegie Mellon's Modern Chemistry II. Please see the course materials page for detailed information on this course, including all lecture notes, textbook reading, assignments, and assessments. A list of knowledge components covered in the current modules is available on request to David Yaron.
    • The modules are tested and studied using the PSLC datashop. Once refined, they will be rolled out to the Open Learning Initiative.

Current (ongoing) Studies