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Issue 2, 2018
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Fusing a reversed and informal learning scheme and space: student perceptions of active learning in physical chemistry

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Abstract

Physical chemistry students often have negative perceptions and low expectations for success in physical chemistry, attitudes that likely affect their performance in the course. Despite the results of several studies indicating increased positive perception of physical chemistry when active learning strategies are used, a recent survey of faculty in the U.S. revealed the continued prevalence of instructor-centered approaches in physical chemistry. In order to reveal a deeper understanding of student experiences in an active learning physical chemistry course, we present a phenomenological study of students’ perceptions of physical chemistry when the course is completely redesigned using active learning strategies. Using the flipped classroom, an active learning space, cooperative learning, and alternative assessments, we emphasized fundamental concepts and encouraged students to take responsibility for their learning. Based on open-ended surveys and interviews with students, we found that students struggled with the transition, but had some significant positive perceptions of the approach. This is in agreement with previous studies of physical chemistry courses in which cooperative learning was the focus. As part of a larger study of the effectiveness of this course redesign, we show how students perceive the effectiveness of these strategies and how they react to them. In addition, we discuss the implications of these findings for the active learning physical chemistry classroom.

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Publication details

The article was received on 26 Sep 2017, accepted on 15 Feb 2018 and first published on 16 Feb 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7RP00186J
Citation: Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2018,19, 520-532
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    Fusing a reversed and informal learning scheme and space: student perceptions of active learning in physical chemistry

    J. Donnelly and F. E. Hernández, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2018, 19, 520
    DOI: 10.1039/C7RP00186J

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