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Learning Chemistry at the University level: Student attitudes, motivation, and design of the learning environment
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Chemistry.
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The main purpose of the research this thesis is based upon was to study students’ attitudes towards learning chemistry at university level and their motivation from three perspectives. How can students’ attitudes towards learning chemistry be assessed? How can these attitudes be changed? How are learning situations experienced by students with different attitude positions?

An attitude questionnaire, assessing views of knowledge, learning assessments, laboratory activities, and perceived roles of instructors and student, was used to estimate students’ attitude positions. It was shown that a positive attitude was related to motivated student behaviour. Furthermore, it was shown that factors in the educational context, such as the teachers’ empathy for students learning chemistry, had affected the students. It was also found that students holding different attitude positions showed different learning outcomes and differed in their perceptions of the learning situation. Students’ holding a more relativistic attitude more readily accepted the challenges of open experiments and other more demanding tasks than those holding a dualistic attitude.

In addition, the teachers were found to play important roles in the way the tasks were perceived and the development of students’ ideas. In studied laboratory activities open tasks resulted in positive student engagement and learning outcomes. Preparative exercises, such as a computer simulation of the phenomena to be investigated, affected students’ focus during laboratory work, encouraging them to incorporate more theoretical considerations and increasing their ability to use chemical knowledge. Finally, it was shown that students’ focus during laboratory work is reflected in the questions they ask the teacher, implying that questions could be used as tools to evaluate laboratory teaching and learning processes.

The findings imply that students’ attitudes towards learning and motivation, and the design of learning situations, are key factors in the attainment of desirable higher educational goals such as the ability to judge, use, and develop knowledge. For universities encountering students with increasingly diverse attitudes, motivation and prior knowledge, these are important considerations if they are to fulfil their commissions to provide high quality learning environments and promote high quality learning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Department of Chemistry, Umeå University , 2005. , 47 p.
Keyword [en]
laboratory work, open experiments, attitude, university level, motivation, cognitive load, laboratory instruction styles, attitude change, design of learning situation, student questions.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-589ISBN: 91-7305-934-x OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-589DiVA: diva2:143880
Public defence
2005-10-14, KB3A9, KBC huset, 13:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2005-09-15 Created: 2005-09-15 Last updated: 2012-05-10Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Benefiting from an open-ended experiment? A comparison of attitudes to, and outcomes of, an expository versus an open-inquiry version of the same experiment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Benefiting from an open-ended experiment? A comparison of attitudes to, and outcomes of, an expository versus an open-inquiry version of the same experiment
2003 (English)In: International Journal of Science Education, Vol. 25, no 3, 351-72 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article we compare outcomes of an open-inquiry and an expository version of a chemistry laboratory experiment at university level for 190 students. The aim of the study was to investigate if these two versions would result in different outcomes depending on the students' attitudes towards learning. We used a questionnaire to find out their attitude position prior to the laboratory experiment. The outcome in the different versions of the experiment was evaluated by interviews, questions asked during the experiment and students self-evaluations. The main findings were that the open-inquiry version shows the most positive outcomes regarding learning outcome, preparation time, time spent in the laboratory and student perception of the experiment. The students with low attitude position needed more support to meet the challenge of an open-inquiry experiment, the support being a clearer explanation of the aims, and feedback from the instructor during the experiment.

Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-9975 (URN)doi:10.1080/09500690210145738 (DOI)
Available from: 2008-08-22 Created: 2008-08-22 Last updated: 2012-05-10Bibliographically approved
2. Students' cognitive focus during a chemistry laboratory exercise: Effects of a computer simulated prelab
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Students' cognitive focus during a chemistry laboratory exercise: Effects of a computer simulated prelab
2007 (English)In: Journal of research in science teaching, ISSN 0022-4308, Vol. 44, no 8, 1098-2736 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

To enhance the learning outcomes achieved by students, learners undertook a computer-simulated activity based on an acid-base titration prior to a university-level chemistry laboratory activity. Students were categorized with respect to their attitudes toward learning. During the laboratory exercise, questions that students asked their assistant teachers were used as indicators of cognitive focus. During the interviews, students' frequency and level of spontaneous use of chemical knowledge served as an indicator of knowledge usability. Results suggest that the simulation influenced students toward posing more theoretical questions during their laboratory work and, regardless of attitudes, exhibiting a more complex, correct use of chemistry knowledge in their interviews. A more relativistic student attitude toward learning was positively correlated with interview performance in both the control and treatment groups.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2007
Keyword
Kemididaktik, Chemistry education research, simulation, laboratory work, pre-lab, intuitive knowledge, attitudes toward learning
National Category
Other Chemistry Topics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-6665 (URN)10.1002/tea.20217 (DOI)
Note

Tidigare titel: Effects of pre-lab simulated acid-base titration and student attitudes toward learning on students' cognitive focus and knowledge usability

Available from: 2008-09-22 Created: 2008-09-22 Last updated: 2013-12-10Bibliographically approved
3. Analysis of university chemistry students’ questions and focus during laboratory work.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Analysis of university chemistry students’ questions and focus during laboratory work.
Manuscript (Other academic)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-4675 (URN)
Available from: 2005-09-15 Created: 2005-09-15 Last updated: 2010-01-13Bibliographically approved
4. Factors related to observed attitude change toward learning chemistry among university students
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Factors related to observed attitude change toward learning chemistry among university students
2005 (English)In: Chemistry education, ISSN 1109-4028, Chemistry Education Research and Practice, Vol. 6, no 1, 1-18 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

To gain insight into factors associated with changes in attitude toward learning chemistry, six students who displayed major attitude changes were identified through a pre- and post-course attitude questionnaire administered to sixty-six first-year university chemistry students. Those with largest attitude changes, both positive and negative, were selected to highlight the contrast between students. The six students were interviewed; descriptions of their one-semester chemistry course experiences were analyzed to identify factors associated with their change in attitude. A positive attitude change was associated with evidence of motivated behaviour, while a negative change was linked to less motivated behaviour. Students addressed similar factors in the educational setting, but students with positive attitude changes exhibited fewer negative views of educational factors, while students with negative attitude changes showed an opposite pattern. Since the same factors, students’ perceived level of teacher empathy for their efforts at chemistry learning, affected both groups, this indicates a possibility for changes in educational setting beneficial to all students.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
University of Ioannina, 2005
Keyword
attitude change, motivation, university chemistry
National Category
Other Chemistry Topics Didactics Pedagogical Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-10356 (URN)
Available from: 2008-08-22 Created: 2008-08-22 Last updated: 2011-03-21Bibliographically approved

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