Supporting students’ conceptual understanding of kinetics using screencasts and simulations outside of the classroom
Simulations have changed chemistry education by allowing students to visualize the motion and interaction of particles underlying important chemical processes. With kinetics, such visualizations can illustrate how particles interact to yield successful reactions and how changes in concentration and temperature impact the number and success of individual collisions. This study examined how a simulation exploring particle collisions, or screencast employing the same simulation, used as an out-of-class introduction helped develop students’ conceptual understanding of kinetics. Students either manipulated the simulation themselves using guided instructions or watched a screencast in which an expert used the same simulation to complete an assignment. An iterative design approach and analysis of pretest and follow up questions suggests that students in both groups at two different institutions were able to achieve a common base level of success. Instructors can then build upon this common experience when instructing students on collision theory and kinetics. Eye-tracking studies indicate that the simulation and screencast groups engage with the curricular materials in different ways, which combined with student self-report data suggests that the screencast and simulation provide different levels of cognitive demand. This increased time on task suggests that the screencast may hold student interest longer than the simulation alone.