Edinburgh Chemistry Education Research Group

We are interested in exploring students’ interaction with the curriculum outside of formal lecture time – and for chemistry students, this means their work in labs, tutorials, and their independent study time. While much of the emphasis and attention is paid to lecturing, most chemistry students will spend the bulk of their time on laboratory work and tutorial work. How do students engage with these? From a curriculum design perspective, how can we present them so as to maximise curriculum connectivity?  How do students build on learning in lectures in their own study time? These are questions we are interested in answering.

Group members are below, with a brief outline of their interests. If you are interested in joining this group, please contact me. I am happy to explore options for those who wish to undertake postgraduate work part-time.

PhD students

Hendra Agustian is a PhD student exploring learning in the laboratory, with an especial focus on the role of pre-laboratory work. Hendra is interested in examining what constitutes effective preparation by exploring whether and how students lean on their preparation work during laboratory time. Hendra has brought an interesting dimension to the project by contemplating the development of understanding of nature of scientific processes (NoS) during laboratory learning. Hendra has degrees in chemistry and education, as well as research experience in curriculum design.

Xinchi Zhang is a PhD student interested in the student experience, particularly relating to their experience of laboratory work. An education graduate (MSc in Education, Moray House, Edinburgh), Xinchi brings an unusual and additional dimension to our work. She is exploring student perceptions about their learning, focussing on their perceptions of support in laboratory environments.

Undergraduate Project Students (2017-2018)

Sarah Kennedy is completing her MChem project on the topic of 1st year students approaches to study. She is basing her work on the modified-ASSIST questionnaire recently published by Bunce. We know a lot about how US students study 1st year chemistry, but much less so about students in UK and this project aims to find out more. Sarah is using the survey to categorise learners’ study approaches, and augmenting these results with interviews, which also aim to explore how, what, and when students study, and what curriculum supports are useful (or not).

Sophie Newton is completing her BSc project (Science Education) on the topic of development of laboratory skills at secondary school. We are doing this work in collaboration with Naomi Hennah, at Northampton School for Boys, building on our recent work, published last year. Sophie is examining different approaches to the design of exemplar videos, and these are being trialled and evaluated in collaboration with Naomi.

Lim Xin Ying was a visiting student from National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where she studies under Daniel Tan. Lim completed a semester project looking at the topic of teaching chemical equilibrium – in particular developing learning resources for 1st year students designed using the framework of Johnstone’s triangle. This project explored what aspects were difficult about chemical equilibrium, and in particular the topic of buffers, and designed a resource which required students to move between particulate representations and symbolic representations.

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