Spillman, C. M., Imperial, L., & Crippen, K. J. (2020). Perception and experience of in-sequence and out-of-sequence engineering students in a general chemistry laboratory. UF Journal of Undergraduate Research, 21(2), 1–12. doi:10.32473/ufjur.v21i2.108496


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Exam-PLE In a Nut Shell

This project is focused on the development of a Web-based learning environment for well-structured problem solving. Well-structured problem solving involves formulating and applying one clear methodology that produces a known solution.

Students have access to a Web-accessible, multiple-choice content quiz for one week. At UNLV, the quiz is available from a link within Webcampus (WebCT-Vista). During this period, students may modify their responses at any time as their skills and understanding of the material change. This is a learning tool where the intent is to engage them in studying the examples we provide in order to learn chemistry and solve the problems. At the end of the week, the quizzes are graded and correct answers are provided. Students who do not achieve at least 80% are offered a re-take. The re-take is identical in form and function, but includes unique, yet conceptually similar items. The item stems on the re-take quizzes are different, but the worked examples accompanying each item remain the same. Quiz items are selected from a pool and response options are randomized, so the likelihood of two students getting identical quizzes is small.

Each quiz item includes three embedded worked examples in the form of buttons following the item stem. When a student clicks an example button, a new window opens presenting the worked example and additional information in the form of a unique self-explanation prompt. We are actively trying to get students to talk to themselves as they study the examples. Quiz items were written and assigned based upon content, level of difficulty, and problem characteristics. Quiz content is matched with the weekly lecture topics and worked examples were built in support of techniques taught in lecture and described in the textbook.

Within the context of our Web-based learning system, previous research has shown that students make extensive use of the worked examples and self-report that these strategies are helpful for improving both their learning and performance. Further, we have shown that the combination of a worked example with a self-explanation prompt positively impacts their performance in the course and motivation towards learning chemistry.