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Development of a self-study and interactive study platform for the enhancement and improvement of learning and teaching in physical chemistry

Authors Fung, Yue Ling
Issue Date 2008
Summary As one of the traditionally established core subjects in the curriculum of Chemistry major, Physical Chemistry courses have always been arguably the most difficult subject for both learning and teaching worldwide for undergraduate students majoring in Chemistry. This has been particularly true for Hong Kong students of chemistry major partly because of the insufficient background preparation in mathematics and physics in secondary curricula. The main objective of this thesis is to develop an integrated and multi-media-enhanced on-line study platform for Physical Chemistry courses for undergraduate students majoring in Chemistry and for other interdisciplinary undergraduate programs requiring Physical Chemistry in their curricula, by identifying the learning difficulties in physical chemistry, proposing viable approaches for both teaching and learning to deal with the difficulties, and integrating these approaches into a multi-media enhanced on-line study platform. Chapter 1 gives a general background of the significance of Physical Chemistry in the overall chemistry curriculum. The main achievements in this chapter are (1) to clearly identify and to specifically define the learning difficulties and their causes, which are expressed as the “gaps” to be addressed in this thesis; (2) to define the Intended-Learning Outcomes (ILOs) of Physical Chemistry sub-curriculum within the framework of the mission statements of chemistry education in HKUST; and (3) to recommend feasible approaches and methods for bridging and/or narrowing the identified gaps. Chapter 2 layouts the overall strategy to achieve the objective of this thesis. The structure and main components of our overall strategy are highlighted. The main features of our strategy are demonstrated. The advantages and flexibility of our overall strategy can be assessed through its structure and features. Chapter 3 tries to address the gap caused by students’ insufficient background in math and physics. We proposed a Chemistry-Math (Physics) Correlation Scheme to bridge the specified gap. The main features of this scheme are (a) to provide relevant exercises in math to strengthen students’ mathematical skills; and (b) to provide self-test questions in both math and chemistry to enhance their knowledge learnt in lectures; and (c) to interrelate the questions and exercises in math and chemistry to specific learning materials from either lecture notes or lab manual. Chapter 4 tries to address the broken linkage between the knowledge learnt in lectures and in laboratories. We proposed a Lecture-Laboratory Correlation Scheme to bridge the specified gap. The main features of this scheme are (a) to provide linkages between lecture notes and specific experimental manual and vice versa; and (b) to provide relevant background materials for students to get familiar with the experiments they perform in laboratory; and (c) to provide pre-lecture questions and quiz to encourage students to be prepared before lecture. Chapter 5 tries to address the gap between the dynamic and static concepts encountered in the learning materials. We proposed a Computer-aided/multimedia-enhanced Graphs-Animations-Videos Correlation Scheme to bridge the specified gap. The main features of this scheme are (a) to provide interactive enhanced graphs by textbook publishers to visualize the relationship between concepts; and (b) to provide online resources from other international universities to illustrate some dynamic concepts; and (c) to provide lab videos for students to study and get familiar with the experimental procedures. Chapter 6 tries to address the gap caused by the lack of correlation between empirical observations and counter-empirical/counter-intuitive concepts. We proposed a Counter-Intuitive and Counter-Empirical Correlation Scheme to bridge the specified gap. The main features of this scheme are (a) to provide examples from everyday life experience to explain abstract phenomena learnt from lectures; and (b) to visualize theories and concepts learnt in the lecture through daily life examples. Chapter 7 tries to address the gap between outdated examples in the text and the more relevant examples from emerging inter-disciplinary subjects. We proposed a scheme on Topical Modules for Emerging Interdisciplinary areas. The main features of this scheme are (a) to divide the concepts into small and specific topics; (b) to provide relevant examples according to their disciplines; (c) to provide referenced lecture notes from one of the top universities, MIT. Chapter 8 tries to address the lack of correlation between everyday life experience and the seemingly abstract learning materials. We proposed a Subject/Concepts and Daily-life-examples Correlation Scheme to bridge the specific gap. The main features of this scheme are (a) to provide relevant examples from daily life experience to help students in understanding the abstract concepts; (b) to provide case studies and/or relevant current news to inspire students’ interests in active learning of physical chemistry. Chapter 9 tries to address the importance of cooperative learning (team-work) and its positive impact to the effective learning of physical chemistry. We proposed a Cooperative-Learning-Scheme to emphasis the importance of team-works among students. The main advantages of this scheme are (a) to learn how to work with each other and practice the skills in cooperative learning and team-work; and (b) to increase the depth of their understanding through stimulative discussion among themselves; and (c) to build students’ confidence in learning physical chemistry by having positive learning attitude within the small groups or teams. Chapter 10 tries to address the gap between assessment criteria and assessment methods. We proposed a Learning-Outcome-Based Assessment Criteria and Methods Scheme to bridge the specified gap. The main advantages of this scheme are (a) to develop a wide range of different abilities and skills through taking physical chemistry courses; and (b) to develop students’ consciousness in life-long learning by achieving the learning objectives and/or goals that are set for the courses. Chapter 11 is a brief summary and future perspective of this project. It points out some limitations of the fore-mentioned approaches and ideas and evaluates the feasibility of implementation. Last but not the least, a Tutorial Guide is provided at the end of the thesis to illustrate the usage of the developed “Study Platform”.
Note Thesis (M.Phil.)--Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 2008
Language English
Format Thesis
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