An evaluation of first year chemistry students: class performance versus use of Internet-based supplementary materials

Danny R. Bedgood, Jr

Abstract


Over the last seven years the author has developed a suite of web-based supplemental materials for first year chemistry students. The intention of the web site materials is to provide a myriad of resources so students with different learning styles will have the best opportunity to perform well in class, as well as provide resources available to students with varied work, class, and family schedules. These materials cover class topics for introductory, general, engineering, nursing, and chemistry major classes, and include well over 250 files including:
• administrative materials (announcements, syllabus, lecture/laboratory schedule);
• narrative format edited lecture notes (Lecture Packets);
• old examinations, as practice test and with detailed explanations of answers;
• interactive practice problems, with hints for wrong answers;
• course specific discussion areas;
• take home quizzes as Acrobat files, and answer keys;
• detailed explanations to current examinations;
• grade access; and
• course discussion area.

The edited lecture notes are intended to serve two purposes: save class time by removing the need for students to take many notes and copy problems; and improve student learning by providing an environment where students listen, analyze, and integrate ideas instead of taking dictation.

Was it worth the time spent creating these files? How did students use these materials? Did it make any difference in their level of learning or performance in the subject? If nothing else, did they find the materials useful? We are all confident that our web resources are useful to our students, but if we know more about what materials are used, and how, we can focus energies on those materials that make the most difference to students – especially the poorest performing students.

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