joined Bretz Group in August 2009
B.S. St. Cloud State University
Ph.D. Miami University, 2014
**2011 recipient of the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship!
(the first student in the United States to earn a GRF for chemistry education research!)
Dissertation: Investigating Students’ Understandings of the Symbolic, Macroscopic, and Particulate Domains of Oxidation-Reduction and the Development of the Redox Concept Inventory.
Students construct their knowledge from data obtained by the senses. As information is constructed, knowledge can be misconstrued to form misconceptions dependent upon student prior knowledge. To understand how to address these misconceptions, instructors must identify incorrect student understanding. Students lack a firm knowledge of a topic typically taught during the first semester of general chemistry: oxidation-reduction reactions. Many textbooks teach symbolic equations and rules for determining oxidation numbers as the primary tools for learning redox concepts, leaving students with rote memorized definitions and a superficial understanding of a complex topic that has a strong particulate and macroscopic foundation. The purpose of this study is to better understand student knowledge of redox reactions and to identify misconceptions students hold. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with students (N=39) enrolled in general chemistry and organic chemistry to elicit student understandings of redox reactions. These interviews were transcribed verbatim, coded for students misconceptions, and analyzed for common themes. The misconceptions were used to create the ROXCI (Reduction Oxidation Concept Inventory). A pilot study with general chemistry and organic chemistry students responses to ROXCI was conducted in fall 2012. A test-retest study focusing upon student confidence was conducted in spring 2013, along with a collaborative study with the Greenbowe, Gelder, and Abraham groups investigating pre/post understanding in response to interventions on electrochemistry. A manuscript describing the development of ROXCI was published in the Journal of Chemical Education. A second manuscript regarding student confidence has been accepted at Chemistry Education Research and Practice.
Collaborative Research Project #2: Modeling Meaningful Learning in Chemistry using Structural Equation Modeling.
Ausubel and Novak’s construct of meaningful learning stipulates that substantive connections between new knowledge and what is already known requires the integration of thinking, feeling, and performance (Novak, 2010). This study explores the integration of these three domains using a structural equation modeling (SEM) framework. A tripartite model was developed to examine meaningful learning through the correlational relationships among thinking, feeling, and performance using student responses regarding Intellectual Accessibility and Emotional Satisfaction on the Attitudes toward the Subject of Chemistry Inventory version 2 (ASCI V2) and performance on the American Chemical Society exam. We compared the primary model to seven alternatives in which correlations were systematically removed in order to represent a lack of interconnectedness among the three domains. The tripartite model had the strongest statistical fit, thereby providing statistical evidence for the construct of meaningful learning. Methodological issues associated with SEM techniques, including problems related to non-normal multivariate distributions (an assumption of traditional SEM techniques), and causal relationships are considered. Additional findings include evidence for weak configural invariance in the pre/post implementation of the ASCI(V2), mainly due to the poor structure of the pretest data. The implications for teaching and learning as well as cautions for using self-report instruments in repeated measures research designs were discussed in a publication in Chemistry Education Research and Practice.
Collaborative Research Project #1: Diagnosing Changes in Attitude in First-year College Chemistry Students with a Shortened Version of Bauer's Semantic Differential.
In this quantitative study, a shortened version of the Attitude toward the Subject of Chemistry Inventory (ASCI) created by Bauer (2008) was used to identify the chemistry attitudes of two populations of general chemistry students at two universities. The ASCIv2 contained just two factors from the original instrument. These factors measured students' emotional and intellectual attitudes towards chemistry as a subject. Students required only two minutes to respond to ASCIv2, providing a mechanism to use it with additional instruments in a research design while minimizing assessment fatigue. This study used confirmatory factor analysis to provide evidence for the validity of the ASCIv2. The Cronbach's alpha (α) values for both factors at 0.74 or greater at both institutions provided evidence of strong internal consistency in the ASCIv2. This study also confirmed the instrument's sensitivity, i.e., the ability to detect small attitude differences in a student population. Examples discussed include pre- and post-test implementations, along with attitude differences between males and females in general chemistry. Analysis showed a positive relationship between students' attitudes and general chemistry success. A manuscript was published in Chemistry Education Research and Practice.
Cognate Research: Effects of Nanoninfusion on Pure Carbon Nanotubes.
Carbon nanotube research has become an increasingly interesting area of study for chemists. Conventionally, carbon nanotubes are synthesized via arc discharge, laser ablation, and most commonly, chemical vapor deposition. However, metal catalysts needed for synthesis leave impurities which result in properties that may not be unique to the pure form. Even after extensive posttreatments, carbon nanotubes still contain trapped metallic impurities. Recently, a new technique to synthesize pure carbon nantobues without metallic impurities has been developed, resulting in cleaner background currents and lower detection limits in electrochemical studies. Another novel approach called nanoinfusion has been used to synthesize nanoparticles in polymers. This project investigated the properties of pure carbon nanotubes infused with silver nanoparticles via nanoinfusion. The electrochemical background current of the nanoinfused pure carbon nanotbues was compared to that of conventional carbon nanotubes.