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Abstract Title: Theoretical Frameworks for Qualitative Research, a Story from Chemical Education Research
Abstract: When I joined the faculty at Purdue, 40 years ago, I became interested in what has become known as discipline-based educational research (DBER). Having received my PhD in chemistry based on studies that used multinuclear FT NMR spectroscopy, it seemed obvious to me to start with quantitative methods based on traditional statistical techniques, which is what everyone seemed to be using at the time. But, as someone who taught medical students at UIUC before moving to Purdue, I soon concluded that all I could get out of statistical methods was evidence of a new "disease." It was never going to give me what I wanted, which was a "cure." I.e., a way to overcome some of the challenges of teaching and learning chemistry. So about 30 years ago, my group started to focus in qualitative techniques. It soon became apparent that much of our early work was not based on clear, concisely worded research questions. Nor did it build on a strong theoretical framework that would guide the way choices of methodology are made. (To be honest, neither did a lot of other DBER studies at the time!) Fortunately, I was surrounded by bright graduate students who were willing to help guide me in my search for a better way to approach such interesting questions as whether our model of what successful students' did when working on quantitative problems they encountered in the introductory chemistry course would have any resemblance to the model of successful problem solving both undergraduate and graduate students used when working on non-quantitative problems such as predicting the product of a chemical reaction or deducing the structure of a compound from FT NMR and FT IR spectra. My goal in this paper is to provide a glance at some of what we learned as a result of bringing qualitative research into the CER community. And to explain why we eventually published a book with the title: "Theoretical Frameworks for Research in Chemistry/Science Education."
Abstract Type: Plenary

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: George Bodner
Purdue University