An evaluation of student learning during a tertiary bridging course in chemistry.
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A new one-semester tertiary bridging course in chemistry was designed with constructivist concept-learning as a major aim. This aim was monitored by Concept Learning Test Sequences (CLTSs), developed for each of ten fundamental chemical concept-clusters, selected from ten theory-practical work-units of an expressly written book. The concept-clusters were: density, mixture/compound, structure/bonding, base/salt, redox, mole, rate, metal, halogen, hydrocarbon. Each CLTS comprised a pre-instruction item; two-tier multiple-choice item(s); a post-instruction item; each provided data from a class of 21 students of widely different backgrounds. Separate chapters discuss class results and individual results.Concept-learning Improvement Categories that estimated individual improvement in each CLTS were quantified by assigning numerical values. Summation of these numerical values for all ten CLTSs produced individual Concept-learning Improvement Indices (CLIIs). Improvement in concept-learning appears independent of prior academic background. Rankings by CLIIs and by final assessment percentage were strongly correlated. The mean CLII for the class assessed concept-learning improvement (per concept) at Moderate-to-Intermediate.Various probes revealed that factors which influenced learning included: pre-laboratory reports; practical work; learning partnership(s); positive personal qualities; mathematical skills; confidence; visualisation; integration of theoretical and practical studies; bench problem-solving; a relaxed tutorial atmosphere; historical approaches to chemical concepts. Students assessed the course overall as 'good'.
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