Northeastern Illinois University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Page: 4007 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
Chem-Wiki site was implemented to help undergraduate students collaborate in their organic chemistry research based lab. The laboratory experiments extend over six sessions and engage the students in inquiry and research. This requires students to work in larger teams and the collection of a full set of data requires extended discussion amongst the students, both in and out of the lab. Finally, to report on their findings, students are required to submit a report that summarizes both their ongoing process as well as their results throughout the entire experiment.

In order to facilitate cooperation and reporting, we introduced the Chem-Wiki into the Organic Chemistry Laboratory. The application of this new Web 2.0 technology into the classroom provided a space where there could be ongoing communication within the group, and students could discuss their results as well as create, edit and update new information. Ultimately, this produced a truly interactive online collaboration among the students. In addition, the students were able to prepare a multi-dimensional lab report that incorporated their discussions and results as well as external links that supported and supplemented their research. Ultimately, the Chem-Wiki was able to create a boundless community of learners that were not restricted within time and space.

The Web 2.0 technology had not been utilized to facilitated laboratories in the past. Initial feedback from students regarding the use of Chem-Wiki was generally positive. However, we remained uncertain as to whether this innovative application had achieved our aforementioned goals of facilitating increased collaboration amongst the students as well as providing another method for reinforcing and broadening the learning in the classroom. We sought to conduct a more comprehensive and systematic assessment that would highlight the added value of utilizing this technology.

To perform the assessment, we used three different methods: third party interviews with the students, monthly anonymous written surveys, and a final Student Assessment of Learning Gains. This assessment included both qualitative and quantitative methods to capture the students’ experiences.

Through our analysis of the data, we discovered several affirming and interesting findings about the impact of the Chem-Wiki on students’ learning and collaboration. First, students reported that using the Chem-Wiki contributed greatly to their learning. Interestingly, they reported significantly greater utility of the Chem-Wiki in the inquiry and research based labs. This affirmed that students were benefiting from the collaborative aspects of the Wiki platform to learn with and from their peers. Second, students reported that the Chem-Wiki provided a very good gain in performing all aspects of the lab, ranging from pre-lab discussions to reporting. Additionally, many students reported that this media enabled them to make connections in their learning beyond the immediate class material. Third, although students reported a significant gain from interacting with students online, they reported the greatest gain from in person interactions. Finally, the use of Chem-Wiki increased student’s comfort in utilizing this type of technology for academic purposes and greatly increased their willingness and ability to utilize this in other settings.
Web 2.0, e-portfolios, collaboration.