Development of Sensorial Experiments and their Implementation into Undergraduate Laboratories.

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Title: Development of Sensorial Experiments and their Implementation into Undergraduate Laboratories.
Author: Bromfield Lee, Deborah Christina
Advisors: Melissa G. Jones, Committee Member
Christopher Gorman, Committee Member
Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo, Committee Chair
Reza Ghiladi, Committee Member
Abstract: “Visualization†of chemical phenomena often has been limited in the teaching laboratories to the sense of sight. We have developed chemistry experiments that rely on senses other than eyesight to investigate chemical concepts, make quantitative determinations, and familiarize students with chemical techniques traditionally designed using only eyesight. Multi-sensory learning can benefit all students by actively engaging them in learning through stimulation or an alternative way of experiencing a concept or ideas. Perception of events or concepts usually depends on the information from the different sensory systems combined. The use of multi-sensory learning can take advantage of all the senses to reinforce learning as each sense builds toward a more complete experience of scientific data. Research has shown that multi-sensory representations of scientific phenomena is a valuable tool for enhancing understanding of chemistry as well as displacing misconceptions through experience. Multi-sensory experiences have also been shown to enrich memory performance. There are few experiments published which utilize multiple senses in the teaching laboratory. The sensorial experiments chosen were conceptually similar to experiments currently performed in undergraduate laboratories; however students collect different types of data using multi-sensory observations. The experiments themselves were developed by using chemicals that would provide different sensory changes or capitalizing on sensory observations that were typically overlooked or ignored and obtain similar and precise results as in traditional experiments. Minimizing hazards and using safe practices are especially essential in these experiments as students utilize senses traditionally not allowed to be used in the laboratories. These sensorial experiments utilize typical equipment found in the teaching laboratories as well as inexpensive chemicals in order to aid implementation. All experiments are rigorously tested for accuracy and all chemicals examined for safety prior to implementation. The pedagogical objectives were established of to provide the ability to develop and stimulate students’ conceptual understanding. The educational assessments of these experiments are are fashioned using the framework chosen (Marzano and Kendall). All the experiments are designed as collaborative, inquiry-based experiments in aims of enhancing the students understanding of the subject and promote critical thinking skills. These experiments use an investigative approach rather than verification methods. Terminology and misconceptions of the experiment were evaluated to prevent misunderstanding or confusion during the experiment. Interventions to address these misconceptions and learning problems associated with the experiment were developed. We have developed the Learning Lab Report, LLR, as an alternative model for the traditional laboratory reports, with the goal of transforming the traditional reports into something more useful for both students and instructors. The educational strategies are employed to develop this format in order to promote students to think critically about the concepts and take an active involvement in learning. From the results of the LLR, all experiments were reviewed and re-written to address any learning problems. The sensorial experiments study several topics usually covered in the first 2 years of the chemistry curriculum (general and organic chemistry courses). The experiments implemented, organic qualitative analysis, esterification kinetics, Le Chatêlier equilibrium, thermometric titrations and ASA kinetics, worked effectively as students were able to draw correct conclusions about the concepts from the data obtained. An olfactory titration using the smell of the rutabaga vegetable has been developed and thoroughly tested. The LLR was utilized with the equilibrium, titration and acetyl salicylic acid experiments. The details of the development, implementation of these sensorial experiments and the LLR and student results are discussed.
Date: 2009-07-22
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Chemistry

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