Investigating the impact of adding an environmental focus to a developmental chemistry course





Document Type



acid rain, assessments, carbon dioxide, chemical education research, chemistry, college freshmen, college science, coolers, curricula, effects, environmental assessment, environmental attitudes, environmental changes, environmental chemistry, environmental education, environmental impact, environmental movement, fossil fuels, gender differences, incineration, influence, instructional effectiveness, introductory courses, knowledge, learning, organic chemistry, pretests posttests, science instruction, sciences education, student attitudes, students, studies, study and teaching, thermodynamics, topic and comment, United States (Midwest)


DOI: 10.1021/ed800056e


This study explores how adding environmental perspectives to a developmental chemistry course affected student learning of both general chemistry and environmental chemistry concepts. In addition to measuring learning changes, changes in students’ environmental attitudes and behaviors were also measured. A pretest−posttest design measured achievement in two sections of the same course for statistical comparison. The comparison section used everyday chemistry examples, such as pH of household substances and the thermodynamics of beverage coolers. The treatment section drew everyday examples from the environment, such as the pH of acid rain from different places and how burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide. Students in both sections showed concern for the environment from the beginning of the course, which did not change significantly during the semester. Assessments of general chemistry knowledge did show small yet significant differences between the two sections. Environmental chemistry assessments showed no significant differences between the two sections. The authors conclude that the amount of emphasis on environmental examples may not have been sufficient; they recommend further research on this topic using additional environmental examples taught more strategically throughout the course.





Published in

Journal of Chemical Education

Citation/Other Information

Robelia, B., K. McNeill, K. Wammer, F. Lawrenz. 2010. “Investigating the impact of adding an environmental focus to a developmental chemistry course.” Journal of Chemical Education, 87(2):216-220. DOI: 10.1021/ed800056e

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