joined Bretz Group in August 2008
B.S. Bethel College
Ph.D. Miami University, May 2013
Dissertation: Students' Understandings of Acid-Base Reactions Investigated through their Classification Schemes and the Acid-Base Reactions Concept Inventory.
Research questions of interest: 1) How do students identify acid-base reactions? 2) What features stand out to students as essential in acid-base reactions? Using semi-structured interviews, students in high school, general chemistry 1 & 2, organic chemistry 1 & 2, and a graduate level organic chemistry seminar were asked to identify acid-base reactions from a collection of reactions. Students were also asked to describe what occurred in each reaction at the particulate level. Analysis of these interviews for themes and misconceptions indicated students relied heavily on surface features at the symbolic level without a deep understanding of the reactions. As a results, the 28-item Acid Base Concept Inventory (ABCI) was developed and pilot tested with over 1000 students during 2011-2012. Validation and reliability studies were conducted. Student responses have been analyzed using classical test theory and cluster analysis. Data was collected from more than 1,800 students nationwide in the 2012-2013 academic year. Multiple manuscripts are in preparation.
Cognate Research: Synthesis and Characterization of Self-Assembled Liquid Crystals:
A laboratory experiment for liquid crystal synthesis was developed and class-tested in the organic chemistry laboratory course for chemistry majors. Students synthesized a series of 4-n-alkoxybenzoic acids that form liquid crystal phases (ordered fluids). This experiment illustrated two levels of self-assembly: intermolecular hydrogen bonding into rod-like dimers and subsequent assembly of these dimers into the liquid crystal phase. Polarizing microscopy was introduced as a characterization technique using easily accessible equipment. A manuscript describing this experiment was published and feature on the cover of the Journal of Chemical Education.