Cynthia Luxford


joined Bretz Group in August 2008

B.S. Grand Valley State University
Ph.D. Miami University, 2013

Dissertation: Use of Multiple Representations to Explore Students' Understandings of Covalent and Ionic Bonding as Measured by the Bonding Representations Inventory 


     Students encounter a variety of representations for covalent and ionic bonding. Our research investigates what information students perceive to be encoded in these representations, as well as how students use the models to explain bonding. This study focuses on four research questions: 1) What do student explanations of multiple representations reveal about their understanding of ionic and covalent bonding? 2) What information do students believe is encoded in multiple representations of ionic and covalent bonding? 3) What do student created models of ionic and covalent bonding reveal about their understanding? and 4) How prevalent are student misconceptions of covalent and ionic bonding as revealed through the use of multiple representations? A five-phase, semi-structured interview protocol was designed and tested for efficacy with high school and general chemistry students. Analysis of the interviews for themes and misconceptions lead to the development of the Bonding Representations Inventory (BRI) which was pilot tested in high school and general chemistry classrooms. A full study with more than 1,000 high school and general chemistry college students was conducted in 2012-2013. A paper describing student-generated models of covalent and ionic bonding was published in Chemistry Education Research and Practice. The manuscript describing the development of the Bonding Representations Inventory was published as ACS Editor's Choice in the Journal of Chemical Education.


Cognate Research: A Symmetry POGIL Activity for Inorganic Chemistry


      The goal of this project was to create an inquiry activity to teach symmetry elements and symmetry operations in an inorganic chemistry course. Many students experience difficulty when building and mentally manipulating three-dimensional mental models from two-dimensional images, causing difficulty when learning symmetry. Process-oriented, guided-inquiry learning (POGIL) was used to structure the activity using a learning cycle paradigm consistent with research on how students learn as describd by Novak's human constructivism theory. The activity familiarized students with symmetry terms as students actively engaged in finding symmetry operations in a variety of molecules. They symmetry activity was classroom tested, and student and POGIL expert feedback were used to improve the activity which was published in the Journal of Chemical Education.

© 2017   Stacey Lowery Bretz   Miami University   Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry   Oxford, OH 45056   513.529.3731