464 The ChemCollective: Virtual Labs, Tutors and Scenario Based Learning for Introductory Chemistry

Friday, May 22, 2009: 10:40 AM
Garfield (Renaissance Cleveland Hotel)
David Yaron , Department of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
Michael Karabinos , Department of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
Gaea Leinhardt , Learning Research and Development Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
James Greeno , Learning Research and Development Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
The goal of the ChemCollective (http://www.chemcollective.org) is to create a collaborative online collection for chemistry education in which authors and users work together to evolve instructional materials that improve learning. Our virtual lab is a flexible Java applet that allows students to design and carry out their own experiments. Over a hundred virtual lab activities are available that help students connect the algebraic manipulations of the traditional introductory course with authentic chemistry. Tools for authoring virtual labs are also available and over a third of our current labs were contributed by the community. Our scenario based learning activities help students connect chemistry to the real world. These include a murder mystery, detection of arsenic in drinking water, and dyes that stain DNA. A set of tutorials is also available covering stoichiometry and chemical equilibrium. The chemical equilibrium tutorials were based on over two years of research on what makes chemical equilibrium so difficult to teach and learn. The tutorials implement a new teaching strategy that our evaluation studies have found to more than double student performance on difficult equilibrium problems.