Behmke, Derek Anthony
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It has become common knowledge in the chemical education community that large lecture teaching methods, though cost effective and logistically practical for large universities, are ineffective methods for educating students. Students who enroll in large lecture format general chemistry courses are receiving grades of D, F, or W at an alarming rate. Students state that their poor performance is directly related to the depersonalized feel of the large lecture approach. The goal of this research project is to minimize the depersonalized feel of large lecture general chemistry courses, while increasing the academic performance of the students. Three separate in-time interventions are being used to meet this goal. The first intervention uses internet based instant messaging (IM-Chem) to allow students to ask questions of a teaching assistant during instructional time. Specifics of the implementation will be discussed. Student interviews indicate that this intervention is personalizing the large lecture setting. An analysis of student performance data indicates that participants are 3.10 % more likely than nonparticipants to obtain a grade of C- or higher in the course. The second intervention consists of remedial help sessions that target students who are at-risk of poor performance on key chemistry concepts during homework assignments and tests. A rigorous definition of at-risk students will be presented. Additionally, data analysis has shown that students who are invited to and attend help sessions are more likely to be successful on key chemistry concepts when compared to their counterparts who were invited but chose not to attend. The third intervention consists of a Cognitive Load Theory (CLT) adaptation to our homework system, JExam. The tenants of CLT are presented followed by the different CLT adaptations used in computerized homework systems. A preliminary analysis of the CLT static fading adaptation being implemented in JExam will be presented. The data suggest that the probability of students correctly answering difficult chemistry questions increases by an average of 12.76 %. Finally, an Item Response Theory based study to evaluate the effect on student performance of all the lecture innovations over the past five academic years is presented.