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ERIC Number: ED556906
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 804
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3211-0249-9
The Chem-Math Project: Enhancing Success in General Chemistry through the Integration of Mathematics, Problem-Solving and Conceptual Understanding. An Action-Research Study
Kilner, William Cary
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of New Hampshire
Freshmen with declared life-science majors typically matriculate with a determination to succeed. However, inadequately-prepared students are easily overwhelmed and at risk of abandoning their aspirations for a STEM career. The investigator designed and taught weekly recitations for approximately 850 students during a five-year span, and developing a specific structure for effective use of the limited time available. During the first semester, recitation provided lecture support for freshmen assigned via a mathematics placement test by filling gaps in conceptual understanding of fundamental physical science principles and reviewing associated mathematics. Students electing the optional second-semester recitation were assisted with more difficult concepts and calculations, using specifically-developed instruction and materials. A collaborative environment was established; students were seated at four hexagonal tables, and sub-groups of three solved authentic problems on portable white-boards. An initial goal was to minimize any perceived inability to do mathematics; students found they were able to perform exercises and solve problems when shown how the mathematics is woven into the chemistry. In realizing that recitation would directly address their needs, they gained hope and acquired a more positive attitude. Evidence consisting of written work, actions in class, interviews, and survey responses showed their confidence was enhanced, and they became willing to do the necessary hard work rather than lapsing into counter-productive survival strategies. An initial hypothesis suggested students' negative attitudes towards mathematics and chemistry were a result of weakness in formal (symbolic) mathematics, yet they were found fully capable of using "chem-math," based upon ratio/proportional reasoning. Additional evidence suggests that these two disparate mathematics constructs need to be measured separately. A diagnostic regime including additional indicator variables was designed, since mathematics is necessary but not sufficient for "success." No single mathematics assessment, such as the often used SAT-Mathematics exam, is suitable for identifying those students least ready to study general chemistry. Therefore structural equation modeling, an advanced form of factor analysis, was used to develop a protocol to indicate students in need of this intervention. A final model shows good agreement between inputs and output and could be used to more appropriately place students into chem-math recitations. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A