Graphing as a Tool to Build Mathematical Understanding in Chemistry

Proportional reasoning, particularly in the forms of understanding ratios and relationships between covarying quantities, is critical to student success in general chemistry. Students use this reasoning when doing unit conversions, performing stoichiometry calculations, and thinking about phenomena such as electrostatic forces or the relationship between temperature and average kinetic energy. This is an area where students enrolled in non-credit-bearing-remedial (NCBR) algebra courses often struggle.

Student Conceptions of Structure-Function Relationships in Cell Membranes.

Student understanding of the structure-function relationship is an important core concept for undergraduate biology education as seen in “Vision and Change In Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action” (AAAS, 2011). Structure-function specifically regarding cellular membranes is an important underlying concept for understanding most cellular processes. The goal of this research is to identify the most common student ideas about cellular membranes. Forced choice assessments (e.g.,multiple choice) may not reveal the complete thought processes of students.

Submitted by John Knapp on


You are being prepped for heart surgery. While the nurses are measuring your vital signs, you read over the doctor’s biography. The doctor received his medical degree with only B’s and C’s in their classwork as a student. Would you still have the surgery after knowing this information? How do you know that they are or are not prepared for a successful surgery? So, what makes them more expert-like?

Trends in Student Thinking about Cellular Respiration Across Multiple Scales

Undergraduate biology education is currently undergoing a transformation, as highlighted in “Vision and Change In Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action” (AAAS, 2011). This report has identified Systems Thinking in complex biological processes as a Core Concept across all realms of biology. These systems range from entire ecosystems to subcellular processes within a single organism.

Question Development Using Undergraduate Students’ Writing about the Origin of Genetic Variation

Genetic variation is an important core concept for undergraduate biology education as highlighted in “Vision and Change In Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action” (AAAS, 2011). How new genetic variants originate in a population is usually challenging for students to understand because of the common misconception that mutations are harmful.

Revealing Undergraduate and Instructor Ideas about the Core Concept of Structure and Function

“Structure and function” is one of five core concepts for biological literacy identified in Vision and Change for Undergraduate Biology Education. However, many students struggle to understand this topic. Compounding the problem, increasingly large class sizes make understanding what students think especially challenging. The Automated Analysis of Constructed Response (AACR) group is developing computer tools that analyze student writing, which can be applied in classrooms of any size.

Students’ understanding of energy in chemical reactions and processes

Energy is one of the most important themes in science, unifying all scientific disciplines. This work was designed to investigate student reasoning at different points in an academic career to provide robust evidential grounding for curriculum design. Semi-structured interviews using an interview-about-events protocol were conducted with introductory-level chemistry undergraduate students, upper-level chemistry undergraduate students, and physical chemistry PhD candidates to investigate how they describe energy concepts in the context of chemical reactions/processes.

Submitted by Kinsey Bain on

Adapting an existing framework to evaluate Systems thinking skills using Structure-Behaviour-Function (SBF) models

Biology is the study of systems. An intimate knowledge of just the individual components – their structure and functions – is not enough to understand the complex interactions that ultimately make up biological systems.

Systems Thinking therefore is a way of getting a holistic view, appreciating not just the components of the system, but their dynamic relationships to each other, patterns in these relationships and the effect of time on the system.