A study of the effects of pre-learning on first year university chemistry students
The General Chemistry course was studied over a six-year period (1993/94 to 1998/99). The following areas were examined: (1) In the first year of this study (1997/98), the first step was to look at the history of the General Chemistry course from it's birth in the academic years 1993/94 till 1997/98 to monitor and explore many features of the course: structure, organisation, and the changes made to the course which might affect the original pattern and objectives. The study was aimed to compare students' exam results during the time of this course (1993/94 to 1997/98) and to explore the observations made previously that exam performance was not linked to entry qualifications. (2) The research sought to identify areas of student difficulty, to find out the reasons behind these learning difficulties, and to design materials to reduce obstacles to learning. Using questionnaires and interviews along with a detailed analysis of examination scripts and overall performance of students, a detailed picture was built up of the areas of student difficulties, with some insights into the reasons for these difficulties. (3) Students' opinions about the chemistry course (both at school and university levels) were gathered in an attempt to develop an overall picture of student attitudes, especially those attitudes which might influence performance. (4) The parallel course (Chemistry-1) was also studied for comparative purposes, recognising that its aims and structures were somewhat different.