Date of Award

Fall 12-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Chair

Dr. Sherry Herron

Committee Chair Department

Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Member 2

Dr. Deborah Booth

Committee Member 2 Department

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Committee Member 3

Dr. Sheila Hendry

Committee Member 3 Department

Biological Sciences

Committee Member 4

Dr. James T. Johnson

Abstract

The study attempted to determine whether the use of a series of reading and response assignments decreased students’ perceptions of chemistry difficulty and enhanced students’ perceptions of the relevance of chemistry in their everyday lives. Informed consent volunteer students enrolled in General Chemistry II at a community college in the southeastern United States during the Spring 2012 semester participated in this study. Students were assigned to read a series of short articles that connect chemistry to a specific aspect of everyday life and then answer a series of questions for each article. Open-response research instruments (initial questionnaire and final questionnaire) were used. Responses for each of the research instruments were coded according to ordinal rubrics to allow for statistical analysis. A Wilcoxon Signed Ranks t-test indicated a significant difference for each of the research questions. It was found that the perception of difficulty for the subject overall decreased during the semester, indicating that the subject was either perceived to be less difficult than students feared or that, as they better understood the chemistry, the less it was disliked. Responses also indicated that students perceived greater relevance in terms of nutrition, general health, and environment, although not all to the same degree.

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