Development and Evaluation of Active, Cooperative, Disability-Sensitive Pedagogies for Chemistry

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

The overarching goal is to develop and assess an interactive, hands-on environment that seamlessly integrates classroom and laboratory instruction, producing stimulating and effective instruction for all students, including those with visual impairments.

The research portion involved assessing and evaluating the impact on learning of the instructional materials and methods developed in the educational part, using a variety of quantitative control studies and qualitative research methods.


Materials were developed and tested at a land-grant public research-intensive institution.

Research Design: 

The research design for this project is comparative, and is designed to generate evidence that is descriptive using design research, associative/correlational and causal using quasi-experimental methods. This project collects original data using diaries/ journals/records kept by study subjects, assessments of learning/achievement tests, and survey research including both, paper and pencil, and online self-completion questionnaires, face-to-face structured interviewer-administered questionnaires, and face-to-face semi-structured/informal interviews.

Analysis plans for the study on cognitive gains include pre- and post surveys and identical test questions; plans for the attitudinal changes involve attitudes survey tool developed by Grinnell College and U.C. Berkley (with slight modifications), and plans for the triangulation study include journal entries, interviews and surveys.


Four studies on the SCALE-UP format looked into cognitive, attitudinal, and format issues and showed gains on both cognitive and attitudinal factors when compared to students in traditional courses. Significant statistical differences between conventional and SCALE-UP classes suggest that the active instructional method influenced the learning experience of students, especially the positive gains shown by the bottom 25% of the students. Residualized gain scores were used to monitor attitudinal changes on students showing that 77.1% of the student population in SCALE-UP classes had positive gains over the traditional course. Triangulation methods were used to study attitudes of students towards three key elements of the SCALE-UP class; cooperative grouping, graphing, and hands-on activities via interviews, surveys, and journal entries. Our study revealed that the most common data collection method, surveys, was the most unreliable for two of the three constructs giving results that were inconsistent with those obtained from interviews and journals. Triangulation was obtained on attitudes toward the most objective construct (graphing). An adopted problem solving protocol, GOAL (Gather. Organize, Analyze, Learn), showed to be a key tool to promote the use of higher order cognitive skills in qualitative problem solving.

Sensorial experiments developed and tested proved the feasibility of exploiting multiple senses (especially the sense of smell) in chemistry laboratories. This was crucial to set the foundation for the modifications of these experiments for visually impaired students. To date we have developed and tested four sensorial experiments with the general student population and the feedback obtained has been overwhelmingly positive. This opens the door for the modifications that are necessary for visually impaired students to participate in an active and independent manner in chemistry laboratories.

Publications & Presentations: 

“An Esterification Kinetics Experiment that Relies on the Sense of Smell”, Deborah C. Bromfield-Lee and Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo*, Journal of Chemical Education, 2009, 86, (1), 82-84.

“What´s in your bottled water? Look at the label!”, Gabriel Pinto and Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo, The Chemical Educator, 2008, 13, 341-343. WebID: S1430-4171(08)62171-5.

“Aspectos fisicoquímicos implicados en las bebidas æautocalentables: un caso de aplicación de metodologías activas mediante aprendizaje basado en problemas”, Gabriel Pinto Cañon, Juan llorens Molina, Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo, Anales de Quimica, Real Sociedad Española de Química, 2008, ISSN 1575-3417

"Student Evaluations That Generate More Questions Than Answers", Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo, Journal of College Science Teaching, 2008, Sept/Oct, 37-39.

“Selective Etching via Soft Lithography of Conductive Multilayered Gold Films with Analysis of Electrolyte Solutions”, Ralph W. Gerber and Maria Oliver-Hoyo, Journal of Chemical Education, 2008, 85 (8), 1108-1111.

“Using Laboratory Chemicals to Imitate Illicit Drugs in a Forensic Chemistry Activity”, Shawn Hasan, Deborah Bromfield-Lee, Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo* and Jose A. Cintron-Maldonado, Journal of Chemical Education, 2008, 85 (6), 813-816.

“Promoting the Use of Higher-Order Cognitive Skills in Qualitative Problem Solving“, Maria Oliver-Hoyo* and Jason Justice, Journal of College Science Teaching, 2008, May/June, 62-67.

“Using the Relationship Between Vehicle Fuel Consumption and CO2 Emissions to Illustrate Chemical Principles”, Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo* and Gabriel Pinto, Journal of Chemical Education, 2008, 85 (2), 218-220

“A Qualitative Organic Analysis That Exploits the Senses of Smell, Touch, and Sound”, Deborah C. Bromfield-Lee and Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo, Journal of Chemical Education, 2007, 84(12), 1976-1978.

“Food Enzymes”, Rachel McBroom and Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo, The Science Teacher, 2007, 74(7), 58-63.

“From the Research Bench to the Teaching Laboratory: Gold Nanoparticle Layering”, Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo* and Ralph W. Gerber, Journal of Chemical Education, 2007, 84 (7), 1174-1176.

“Low Cost Six Electrode Instrument for Measuring Electrical Properties of Self-Assembled Monolayers of Gold Nanoparticles”, Ralph W. Gerber and Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo*, Journal of Chemical Education, 2007, 84 (7), 1177-1178.

“Lecciones Prácticas de la Implementación de Métodos Inquisitivos de Enseñanza”, Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo, Anuario Latinoamericano de Educación Química, Año XIX, N°XXI, 2005-2006, 65-71.

"The Use of Triangulation Methods to Validate Results of Qualitative Educational Research", Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo* and DeeDee Allen, Journal of College Science Teaching, 2006, Jan/Feb, 42-47.

"Attitudinal Effects of a Student-Centered Active Learning Environment", Maria Oliver-Hoyo* and DeeDee Allen, Journal of Chemical Education, 2005, 82 (6), 944-949.

"A Closer Look at Olfactory Titrations", Kerry Neppel, Maria T. Oliver-Hoyo*, Connie Queen, and Nicole Reed, Journal of Chemical Education, 2005, 82 (4), 607-610.

Other Products: 

We have developed over 100 activities for general chemistry that can be found at two different websites shown below. These include general chemistry activities in the SCALE-UP format and experiments for the chemistry laboratory that all students, including those with visual impairments, could do.