Current and Previous Research Projects

An initial step for any study involving human subject is to obtain approval from the local institutional review board (IRB).  Usually one or more IRB-approved or exempt research projects are underway in the department each year.  Below is a description of active and IRB-sanctioned research projects involving chemistry students at OSU.

Project: “Identifying the Professional Development Needs of Participants in the Ohio Science Modeling Workshops”.  Kathleen Harper, Ted M. Clark and Lin Ding, 2011-2012.

Overview.  A collaborative professional development workshop involving physics and chemistry high school teachers from Ohio has been in-place for many years.  This workshop, which trains teachers to use an inquiry-based modeling instructional pedagogy, receives funding from the Ohio Board of Regents as a Improving Teacher Quality grant.  One aspect of the assessment of this program is the pre- and post-testing of instructors and their students to evaluate conceptual change by using instruments such as the Force Concept Inventory (FCI), the Chemistry Concept Inventory (CCI) and the Lawson Test for Scientific Reasoning.

Outcome.  Results have been communicated at several regional conferences, most recently at the Central Regional American Chemical Society (Cermacs) meeting.


Project: “Assessment of College Students’ Understanding of Energy Consumption and Global Climate Change”.  Lin Ding and Hui Jin (Ted Clark, key personnel). 2011.

Overview.  This project studied American undergraduate students’ understanding of energy consumption and global climate change by focus on three classes of carbon-flux processes that explain the relation between energy consumption and global climate change: terrestrial carbon emission, terrestrial carbon sequestration, and organic carbon transformation.  The research goals included 1) Identifying an appropriate content base for energy consumption and climate change that is expected of college level students and formulate learning goals that address the content base; and 2)  Creating a beta version of a valid assessment that addresses the identified content and learning goals.  To achieve these goals survey questions were piloted with >150 chemistry students via an on-line quiz.

Outcome.   Based on these preliminary results a TUES grant proposal was submitted with NSF.


Project. “Investigation of a Technology-Rich Chemistry Course”, Ted M. Clark, 2010-2011.

Overview.  Chemistry 161, a novel course incorporating technology and a wide range of innovative practices, many of which were informed by ideas and learning objectives gleaned from the Chemical Education community, was offered Fall of 2010 with support from a Learning Technology Impact grant. The assessment of this course included traditional learning gains by comparing historical student performance data for comparable cohorts, student insights into the Nature of Science by using a modified VNOS-C survey in pre-, post- format, conceptual understanding by using portions of the Chemical Concept Inventory (CCI) in pre- post- format, student questionnaires and focus group interviews.

Outcomes. This work has resulted in a publication discussing the use of novel e-learning resources (Academic Exchange Quarterly)  and several conference presentations.  A fuller discussion of the course and its assessment is available (Chem 161 Assessment Summary).


Project.Assessing Creativity in Chemistry Students in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Fields”, Christine Charyton & Ted M. Clark. 2009.

Overview.  Despite its importance to society, creativity has received relatively little attention in psychology relative to other research topics.  Highly creative people redefine problems, analyze ideas, persuade others, and take reasonable risks to help generate ideas.  Although people have been engaged for centuries in creativity, only in the past few decades has this process been considered capable of analysis and improvement.

While once considered an artistic and aesthetic concern,  after the launching of Sputnik attention regarding the importance of creativity shifted to the sciences.  Recently there has been a renewed interest in both fostering and assessing creativity in STEM disciplines.  A core mission statement of many educational programs is to address creativity and critical thinking skills in the college curriculum.  However, few institutions utilize an empirical method of evaluating creativity.  It has been suggested that creativity may be domain specific and that, even in similar domains, underlying mechanisms may be different.   To better understand the role of creativity, this study has survyed undergraduate chemistry students by using two instruments, i.e.  the Creative Personality Scale (CPS) and the Cognitive Risk Tolerance Scale (CRT).

Outcome.   Based on this initial investigation a book prospectus was submitted with a chapter focusing on the creativity of chemistry students,  “Fostering Creativity in Undergraduate Chemistry Courses”, Ted M. Clark,  A Discussion Among the Two Cultures: Creativity Among Multiple Domains in Science and Art, ed. C. Charyton.

Project: “Ohio Consortium for Undergraduate Research: Research Experiences to Enhance Learning (OCUR-REEL) Project”, Prabir Dutta, Patrick Woodward, Jane Butler-Kahle and Ted M. Clark. 2006-2010.

Overview. OCUR-REEL project is a statewide effort in Ohio aiming to increase student retention in STEM disciplines by involving them in authentic in-class research experiences in chemistry courses early in their academic careers.   The assessment of this far-reaching program has involved analysis of course syllabi, student interviews and surveys, tracking of longitudinal retention data, documenting research output, use of multi-insitutional instruments, etc.

Outcomes:  Several book chapters and numerous presentations have documented the manner in which student research experiences have had a transformative effect, both on the students and on the institutions.  With more than 12,000 participants to-date, the reach of this program has been quite extensive with many REEL student presentations. For a summary of the program and its evaluation please see the REEL NSF final report or the REEL-longitudinal analysis.  The student-researchers in this program continue to be the creators of new chemical knowledge.  For a discussion of their work in the area of environmental chemistry please see the REEL environmental chemistry web-site.


“Student epistemological development”, Ted M. Clark. 2004-2006.





Recent Posts

Hello world!

Have you tried these chemistry simulations from PhET and Tom Greenbowe?

Have you browsed any of these resources for improving your teaching, managing the first day of class, designing better exams, using clickers to understand concepts (a short video), assessing student learning, or keeping students engaged?

Have you read any of these articles describing research based instruction?  The May 2011 article from Science (volume 332, pages 862-864) is extremely provocative.

Must universities change?  The author thinks that “a substantial body of research demonstrates conclusively that the problem (shortcomings at the university-level) is frequently caused by poor undergraduate teaching in physics, chemistry, biology, math, and engineering, particularly in the freshman and sophomore years. Students are consigned to large lecture courses that offer almost no engagement, no monitoring, and little support and personal attention.  The combination of poor high school preparation and uninspiring freshman and sophomore pedagogy has produced a stunning dearth of science and engineering majors in the U.S.”.  Needed changes include…“to alter faculty incentives by making undergraduate teaching at least equal to research and graduate teaching in prestige, evaluation, and reward. And we need to do research-based teaching that takes account and advantage of the latest findings of cognitive science, which are extensive, on how students learn. In brief, they learn by doing, not by just listening to someone else; they learn by solving problems, not by passively absorbing concepts; they learn best in groups of peers working things out together.