The use of microcomputers in chemical education
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The use of computers for teaching in Chemistry has attracted widespread interest since computers became relatively common. However, despite considerable effort, no clear direction for their use as teaching tools has emerged. The advent of the microcomputer has recently brought the computer within the reach of all Chemists, and has resulted in a corresponding increase in the amount of software offered as teaching material. However, the apparent lack of direction available for new authors of software threatens both the credibility and effectiveness of the microcomputer in teaching. There was therefore a need firstly to investigate and secondly to evaluate techniques and strategies for the use of microcomputers in Chemistry. To perform such an investigation, a stand-alone teaching package based on a microcomputer was constructed, with NMR chosen as its subject. The first part of the package was the inclusion of programs to present the background theory of NMR. Allowing students the opportunity to experiment and practise with newly-learnt skills was the next stage of the development. Exercises allowed students to analyse and to generate 1H NMR spectra. Further exercises were needed to engage students in limited dialogue to further develop understanding. Analysis of the needs for the inclusion of such exercises indicated that an Author language would be useful. After consideration of the available software, a limited Author language was written. A variety of exercises were included in the package using this language. Evaluation of the package indicated that those students willing to use it did indeed derive considerable benefit from it. Analysis of student attitudes towards the package supported the view that it was successful. These attitudes also revealed a large potential for the use of similar packages in Chemistry. An effective package was created, with its elements using a variety of styles of presentation to students. The strengths and advantages of each style were noted in the construction of the package, and are embodied in the teaching package. A number of useful software tools were also created. Important guidelines for the formal inclusion of CAL as a style of teaching in Chemistry were developed.