Date of Original Version

2007

Type

Conference Proceeding

Abstract or Description

Chemistry students, like students in physics, mathematics, and other technical disciplines, often learn to solve problems algorithmically, applying well-practiced procedures to textbook problems. But often these students do not understand the underlying conceptual aspects of the problems they solve algorithmically. One approach to overcoming this problem is to have students solve chemistry problems in a virtual laboratory (VLab), a software environment that simulates a real experimental setting and supports inquiry learning of chemistry concepts. We propose to further assist chemistry students in their conceptual learning through having pairs of students collaborate on problems, assisted by computer-mediated collaboration scripts that guide the student through the stages of scientific experimentation and that can adapt to a particular student’s (or dyad’s) skills. In the early stages of the CoChemEx (COllaborative CHEMistry EXperimentation) project, we have performed a preliminary, low-tech study comparing how singles and dyads solve chemistry problems using the VLab with and without scripts. In this paper, we define the problem and research hypotheses we address, discuss our approach and technology, and report on early progress.

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