Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Degree Granting Department
Jeffrey R. Raker, Ph.D.
Jennifer E. Lewis, Ph.D.
Robert F. Dedrick, Ph.D.
Theresa Evans-Nguyen, Ph.D.
Affective learning, Faculty beliefs, Invariance, Measurement, Psychometrics
Collection of data through survey-type measurements and analysis contributes rich, meaningful information to the chemical education research enterprise. This dissertation reports two strands of research that each contribute a “snapshot” of the state of chemical education on two different levels. The first uses survey research methods, collecting data from faculty members to learn about postsecondary chemistry education across the United States. The second uses survey instruments of student achievement emotions within the organic chemistry classroom, collecting longitudinal data to learn about the relationships of emotions with achievement over time. Both areas are of interest because chemical education research produces evidence-based instructional practices as well as survey instruments of student characteristics, many of which are ready to be used in classroom, yet there is a recognized disconnect between development of these products and enacted practices. The research in this dissertation improves upon previous methodology in both strands of research included while reporting data with implications for instructional, research, and policy matters.
A national survey of postsecondary chemistry faculty uses a stratified sampling procedure to gather information about the state of education in chemistry classrooms. The use of the teacher-centered systemic reform model of educational change enables us to use the data collected in the survey to gather empirical support of the relationship between faculty members’ beliefs about how students learn chemistry more effectively, faculty members’ self-efficacy for instruction and chemistry content, and the instructional practices that they utilize in the course for which they felt they had the most influence. This information is paramount for the developers of evidence-based instructional practices as well as parties interested in determining the methods best suited to the dissemination of these tools. Professional development activities designed to inspire the use of evidence-based instructional tools or techniques must acknowledge the belief systems of faculty members and the need for change in these beliefs prior to the incorporation of new methods. These results present a call for reform efforts on fostering change from its core, i.e., the beliefs of those who ultimately adopt evidence-based instructional practices. Dissemination and design should incorporate training and materials that highlight the process by which faculty members interpret reformed practices within their belief system, and explore belief change in the complex context of education reform.
Another example of the use of national survey data is the determination of the niche distribution of classroom response systems, also known as clickers. It is determined in this study that clickers are used more often in large courses taught at the lower level across the United States. This niche is deemed a more suitable situation for the use of clickers than others. This information is important for researchers developing tools intended for use within the classroom. Despite the possibility for use in all contexts, the national population of faculty members will adopt tools in the contexts which are deemed most suitable; the niche markets of educational tools can provide insight in to best development practices also well as direction for the optimization of the experience for the most frequent users of these tools.
The other set of studies in this dissertation utilize the control-value theory of achievement emotions in the postsecondary organic chemistry context to explore nuanced relationships of affect with achievement. These studies utilize a longitudinal panel data collection mechanism, enhancing our ability to understand relationships. The control-value theory posits that there are a set of nine achievement emotions, dictated by control and value, which influence achievement. Two of these achievement emotions, anxiety and enjoyment, are determined in one study to fluctuate over the semester of organic chemistry and significantly influence achievement as measured by examination scores. These are supported by their theoretical interpretation as activating emotions, and when experienced, inspire students to take measures that ultimately either increase or reduce their success. A deactivating emotion, boredom, is measured in another study and found to also hold a reciprocal relationship with achievement when measured over time. In both studies, results show that the reciprocal causation model with an exam snowballing effect best fits data among the alternative models. There is a small and significant negative relationship between anxiety and performance contrasted with a positive relationship between enjoyment and performance throughout the semester. Negative relationships were observed between boredom and examination performance across the term. In addition, relationships were observed to be stronger at the beginning of the course term. Future research should consider achievement emotions in light of educational reforms to ensure that innovative curricula or pedagogies are functioning in the classroom as intended.
Scholar Commons Citation
Gibbons, Rebecca E., "Survey research in postsecondary chemistry education: Measurements of faculty members’ instructional practice and students’ affect" (2018). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.