A female pre -professional major's perspective of learning chemistry: A single-case study

Kenneth S Lyle, Purdue University


In order to better understand the factors that contribute toward difficulties learning chemistry, a single-case study of a female pre-professional major's perspective of the second-semester chemistry-learning context was conducted. Feminist phenomenographical methodology was implemented in collecting and analyzing data. A tutorial setting created an environment that was conducive for her to convey her chemistry-learning experiences. Direct observation, audio tapes, field notes, open-ended interviews, mini-questionnaires, copies of student's exams and written work produced during tutorials, and e-mail correspondence were used as data. The data revealed factors the participant indicated contributed to her difficulties learning chemistry, her reasons why they interfered, connections between them, and her suggested solutions. More than forty factors were identified. Factors were attributed to the chemistry-learning context, outside-of-course influences, and the participant herself. Several factors encouraged her to adopt surface approaches to learn resulting in her fragmented understanding of the concepts. A cycle of factors centered on exams was identified. Her prior experiences of chemistry exams and self-efficacy were used to hypothesize about the upcoming exam, which influenced the approaches she adopted to learn. The approaches used influenced her level of understanding of the concepts, which, in turn, influenced her performance on the exam. These experiences become part of her prior experiences, informed her self-efficacy, and were used to hypothesize about the next exam. The knowledge learned in this study supports the findings of previous studies and provides a basis for future investigations.




Robinson, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Science education|Higher education|Chemistry|Womens studies

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