This project proposal seeks to explore innovative pedagogical approaches, specifically student-centered design and Constructivist Epistemology, to enhance physical chemistry education. The project is hosted by Loyola University Chicago, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and will span two years, commencing in Fall 2023. The primary focus will be on identifying and addressing misconceptions in physical chemistry courses. The project aims to contribute to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) by providing evidence-based teaching strategies to promote student-centered design and constructivism, ultimately improving student learning outcomes.
PEC: Physical Chemistry LEAP: Learning Enhancement and Advancement Project
Background and Motivation: The project stems from the recognition that misconceptions can significantly impede students’ grasp of fundamental scientific concepts. The proposer’s interest in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) began during graduate studies, where the detrimental impact of misconceptions on student learning became evident. Building on this interest, the proposer has dedicated their career to enhancing STEM education by developing diagnostic tools to identify and address misconceptions effectively.
Collaborative Approach: The project will collaborate with faculty members from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Loyola University Chicago, who teach physical chemistry. Together, they will employ diagnostic tools from existing literature and develop new instruments. Additionally, the study will analyze faculty members’ teaching strategies and correlate them with student performance and misconceptions.
Research Phases: The project will span two academic years. In the first phase (Fall 2023 to Spring 2024), the focus will be on identifying professors and challenging topics in physical chemistry courses. A two-tier diagnostic instrument will be developed, involving surveys, student misconceptions, pilot studies, and construct validity and reliability assessments. The second phase (Fall 2024 to Spring 2025) will involve data collection, comparative studies, and an evaluation of whether prior knowledge of misconceptions influences professors’ teaching strategies and eliminates student misconceptions.
Pedagogical Frameworks: The project will leverage student-centered design, constructivist epistemology, and the Ignatian Pedagogy framework to uncover and address misconceptions. Evaluation will play a vital role in assessing the effectiveness of these pedagogical approaches.
Outcomes and Contribution: The project aims to contribute to the SOTL literature by offering evidence-based teaching strategies. These strategies will foster student-centered design and constructivist learning in physical chemistry courses. Additionally, the project will provide insights into identifying and addressing misconceptions in challenging topics, enhancing students’ mastery of key concepts.
Research Dissemination: The proposer intends to present pilot study and main data collection results at prominent conferences in Chemical Education and Science Teaching. Manuscripts will be submitted to peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Chemical Education (JCE), Chemistry Education Research and Practice (CERP), and the Journal of Research in Science Teaching (JRST).
This project, hosted by Loyola University Chicago, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, represents a valuable opportunity to advance physical chemistry education by addressing misconceptions through innovative pedagogical approaches. It aligns with the proposer’s passion for improving STEM education and their qualifications as an educator and researcher. The outcomes promise to benefit students and educators alike, and the project aims to contribute valuable insights to the broader field of SOTL. The project is set to commence in Fall 2023 and will extend over a two-year period.