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The use of an intervention programme to improve undergraduate students’ chemical knowledge and address their misconceptions

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dc.contributor.advisor Childs, Peter
dc.contributor.advisor Curtin, Teresa Regan, Áine 2012-08-24T14:21:43Z 2012-08-24T14:21:43Z 2012
dc.description peer-reviewed en_US
dc.description.abstract The increase in the percentage of Irish students entering third level education means that many students choosing Science programmes do not have an adequate foundation in Science. This study is an attempt to increase retention amongst under-prepared students in undergraduate Science programmes by providing support to improve their Chemistry understanding. An Intervention Programme was designed for three course groups of students, who have been previously identified as low-achievers in Chemistry. This programme consisted of two semesters of tutorials: Phase 1 focusing on basic Chemistry concepts and ideas and Phase 2 focusing on the mole and chemical calculations. The tutorials utilised various strategies including peerlearning and assessment, formative assessment and inquiry-based learning. A pre- and post-diagnostic test of chemical concepts and misconceptions was designed and administered in the first and last tutorial session of each phase. Students’ performance in both the pre- and post-diagnostic tests was measured, but this could only be done for students who had completed both the pre- and post-test. The tests also included a published instrument for measuring student attitudes and confidence towards Chemistry. The pre-diagnostic tests were used to design the content of the Intervention Programme to meet students’ specific needs. The students were taken in small class groups, rather than large lecture groups. The Intervention Programme ran over two semesters, starting in the second semester of first year. It involved a blended learning approach, which entailed a combination of face-to-face teaching and learning, as well as online resources. By using a variety of pedagogical techniques, it was expected that students from these groups were better equipped with the basic chemical understanding that they needed for their undergraduate programmes of study, resulting in greater retention. Results of the Intervention Programme have shown a positive trend in both conceptual understanding and confidence levels in Chemistry. In all phases, students did significantly better in the post-diagnostic test than in the prediagnostic test. Throughout the three phases, a large number of students completed a pre-diagnostic test and did not return to complete a postdiagnostic test. Results from these pre-diagnostic tests have shown that students are showing similar misconceptions whether they have studied Chemistry for their Leaving Certificate Examinations or not. It also provides evidence that many students entering third level education are underprepared for the demands at third level. Where possible, the performance of students who participated in the Intervention Programme in their concurrent Chemistry module examination was compared with the performance of students who did not participate in it in their concurrent Chemistry module, and this showed that students who had participated in the programme did better in their examination than those who did not participate, which was significant in most cases. This improvement will be beneficial in relation to student retention. Semi-structured interviews were also carried out with six students who had participated in the Intervention Programme. However, while the results are encouraging, poor and inconsistent attendance in both the main module and in the Intervention Programme has affected the results. The programme has also highlighted the importance and value of diagnostic testing to target students’ difficulties in Chemistry and helping low-achieving students to improve their performance in their courses of study. This study has shown that many students are under-prepared to study Chemistry at third level, and hold many chemical misconceptions. Failure to address this problem early on through an Intervention Programme, like the one described here, will to continue to result in high failure rates and low levels of student retention. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher University of Limerick en_US
dc.subject Irish students en_US
dc.subject third level en_US
dc.subject science en_US
dc.subject chemistry en_US
dc.subject leaving certificate en_US
dc.title The use of an intervention programme to improve undergraduate students’ chemical knowledge and address their misconceptions en_US
dc.type info:eu-repo/semantics/masterThesis en_US
dc.type.supercollection all_ul_research en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_published_reviewed en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_theses_dissertations en_US
dc.rights.accessrights info:eu-repo/semantics/closedAccess en_US

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