Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This material reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein

Also available in:


Database of Publications

Homepage > Successful Experiences > Database of publications > Publication's Form


L.D. Antonoglou, N.D. Charistos and M.P. Sigalas
RSC Publishing
Researchers, Teachers
Over 10 pages
The authors of this research publication examine the impact of a hybrid teaching approach (combination of traditional face-to-face instruction and an online web enhanced learning environment) on students’ involvement, performance and attitudes towards an undergraduate college chemistry course related with molecular symmetry. The web-based teaching material was designed and developed by the authors themselves.

In the “Introduction” section the authors refer to role of visuospatial thinking in order to fully understand several fundamental chemistry topics with molecular symmetry being one of them. They make reference to research which shows that the conventional lecture in which students are mostly passive listeners and which employs traditional 2D static illustrations, poses large difficulties in students’ comprehension of chemical concepts which are “not only complex, but also abstract and dynamic such as in molecular symmetry”. In this way, several educational chemistry researchers have developed ICT based molecular visualization tools which can be valuable “as supporting learning materials”. What is needed however is “an innovative and effective integration of educational technologies for teaching and learning chemistry”.

In the next section entitled “Design of multi-representational educational chemistry software”, the authors initially refer to the representational competence which is a set of skills that students have to develop in order to be able to learn and solve problems in chemistry and the development of which is (or should be) a major goal in chemical education. Subsequently they make reference to two theories (Cognitive Load Theory and Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning) which provide guidelines for the development of well-designed multimedia learning environments. They also present a summary of the main design principles for effective educational chemistry software which “helps students understand chemical concepts and develop representational skills through supporting their visuospatial thinking”.
In the next section, the authors refer to the basic characteristics of “The hybrid instructional model” which, being a blended learning system, serves three functions: “enabling (access and convenience), enhancing (using technology to add value), and transforming (change to course design, learn through interactions and activities)”.

Subsequently, the authors present analytically the process followed in order to redesign the “Molecular symmetry” course in the Chemistry Department where they work as well as the development of the interactive educational material. The main features of the hybrid course are the following:
-The integration of novel molecular visualization educational software to support the teaching and learning of molecular symmetry concepts.
-The deliverance of the online course material in study blocks by the use of the free Content Management System (CMS) Moodle.
- The implementation of online learning activities and formative online assessment (quizzes).
-The provision of multiple forms of resources thus allowing students to select and utilize the materials that are most suitable to them.
- The provision of feedback to preceding and guidance to forthcoming study blocks.
- The provision of synchronous and asynchronous communication tools in conjunction with physical presence impelling students to face common learning objectives and practices in the setting of a learning community.

In the “Methods” section of the publication, the authors provide information on the implementation of the hybrid course, the student sample and the qualitative and quantitative data collection procedure employed in order to assess the effectiveness of the course and the attitudes of the students, and the student sample. It is worth noting that the course ran for three consecutive academic years (2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11) and data for all three years have been collected and analyzed. In regard with the student sample, the course was attended by a total of 105 students during the three year period (36, 30, 39 students during each year).

The “Results” section of the publication is divided into two main parts: Students’ attitudes and Students’ outcomes. In respect with “Students’ attitudes” the following results were reached: a) The students had overall a positive attitude towards the usability of the Moodle platform and seemed to categorize it as a flexible learning tool, b) The large majority of the students expressed a positive opinion in regard with the content of the interactive lecture notes and agreed that the availability of both 3D and 2D molecular visualizations had a positive effect on the conceptualization of molecular symmetry, c) The students demonstrate positive attitudes toward hybrid instruction and consider that it provides a learning environment which addresses their needs and expectations, d) Students considered quizzes to be a useful self-assessment tool, e) the hybrid instructional model enhanced student-student and student – instruction interaction.
In respect with “Students’ outcomes’ the following results were reached: a) The data indicate greater learning outcomes via the use of the hybrid course, compared to the traditional setting. However, it is not possible to conduct detailed statistical analysis due to the fact that the groups of students were drawn from different cohorts, b) A high retention rate during the hybrid course, was reported by the instructor.

Finally, in the “Discussion and Conclusions” section the following main points are made: a) The adoption of a hybrid instructional model for demanding undergraduate chemistry courses is capable of improving the quantity and quality of students’ involvement with the course content throughout the whole semester, b) Via the hybrid instructional model, students are given the possibility for self-regulation, i.e they seem to take responsibility for their own learning. In addition, students are given flexibility for action and reflection in order to enhance their performance and preparedness for the forthcoming assessment as well as for the upcoming in-class meeting. c) The course material was designed by taking into consideration principles derived from a cognitive approach to learning, aiming to reduce the cognitive as well as to support the construction of deeper understanding by providing multiple representations.
This is a piece of research work which took place during a period of three years and provided evidence for the capability of a hybrid instructional model in positively affecting both students’ attitudes and outcomes in a demanding undergraduate chemistry course (Molecular symmetry and Group Theory). The paper provides evidence for the importance of the social factor (establishment of a learning community) in creating and maintaining students’ motivation to learn. The issue of self-regulation (taking responsibility for own learning), known to constitute an important motivational construct, is also drawn from this research. The paper provides a very useful discussion and reference list on the issue of representational competence which is a set of skills that need to be developed in order to achieve meaningful learning in chemistry. The authors present in detail the different aspects of the results obtained; however they are careful in their choice of language since as they point out it is not possible to provide definitive statistical validation.
The presented successful teaching strategy is applied among undergraduate chemistry students at University. However, it could also be applicable to secondary school students, in order to help them understand abstract and difficult chemistry concepts by combining different visualization tools with traditional face-to-face instruction.
T.E.I. of Ionian Islands

Comments about this Publication

Your comments are welcome

National Reports on successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry The national reports on chemistry successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry are now available on the related section of the project portal. The reports presents examples of successful experiences in the partner countries and the results of testing of ICT resources with science teachers.