Abstract by Erica Suh
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Effects of decision-based learning on exam performance of undergraduate chemistry students
Novice chemistry students struggle to understand thermodynamic concepts due to their lack of conditional knowledge, knowing when or under what conditions concepts and procedures apply. In contrast, chemistry experts use experience to develop mental models of the relationships between conditions, concepts and procedures. A novel pedagogy called Decision-Based Learning (DBL) shares expert models with students, who use them to solve complex chemistry problems. We created a DBL model for heat and enthalpy. Students who engaged with and internalized the DBL model performed significantly better on heat and enthalpy exam questions than students who were not exposed to the model. Further integration of DBL in chemistry courses will help students develop more expert mental frameworks. This has implications for general chemistry instruction at BYU and at other institutions.