Title page for ETD etd-10092009-162534

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Ellis, Jennifer Tennille Pinder
Author's Email Address jtpellis@gmail.com
URN etd-10092009-162534
Title Assessing the Development of High School Chemistry Students' Conceptual and Visual Understanding of Dimensional Analysis via Supplemental Use of a Proprietary Interactive Software Program
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Educational Theory, Policy, & Practice
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Wandersee, James Committee Chair
Blanchard, Pamela Committee Member
Cheek, Earl Committee Member
Culross, Rita Committee Member
Lou, Yiping Committee Member
Shrum, Wesley Dean's Representative
  • Conceptual Understanding
  • Technology-Mediated Learning
  • Visual Understanding
  • Chemical Education
  • Dimensional Analysis
  • Human Constructivisim
Date of Defense 2009-09-21
Availability unrestricted
This study was designed to evaluate the effects of the proprietary science education software, “Conversionoes,” on students' conceptual and visual understanding of dimensional analysis. The participants in the study were high school general chemistry students enrolled in two public high schools with different demographics (School A and School B) in the Chattanooga, Tennessee, metropolitan area. A mixed methods design was used in the data collection and analysis to provide a holistic view of the impact of the software on student learning, via a value-added design.

The resulting qualitative and quantitative data indicated that the Conversionoes software enhanced the treatment groups’ conceptual and visual understanding of dimensional analysis. In fact, when all of the quantitative and qualitative data were viewed as a whole, the advantages of integrating Conversionoes into the general chemistry classroom appeared to have a positive impact on student conceptual and visual understanding of dimensional analysis. This was supported by the quantitative data, which indicated a significant difference between the overall pre-test and post-test scores of the treatment groups (n=14, t=-2.896, p=0.008). The treatment groups’ data were comprised of performance test results from Schools A and B.

The descriptive statistics indicated that in general African-American students benefited the most from the software. African-American males had the highest increase in proficiency, 18%; followed by African-American females, 16%; White males, 10.22%; and White Females, 9.67%. With respect to gender, females had the highest increase in proficiency, 15.59%, males increased on average by 12.42%.

More importantly the software elevated student performance in all of the ethnic groups and both genders, helping students make gains in their proficiency levels of dimensional analysis problem solving. The qualitative data also showed that most students valued their experiences using the Conversionoes software and claimed that it improved their knowledge of all aspects of dimensional analysis.

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