BOLD Fellow Kelly Gilmore Presents Poster at American Chemical Society National Meeting
Kelly Gilmore, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemistry at Vanderbilt, recently presented a poster of her BOLD Fellows project at the 2016 American Chemical Society (ACS) national meeting in Philadelphia, PA, in August. Kelly’s poster, entitled “Establishing a Foundation of Acid-Base Chemistry Using an Interactive Online Module,” presented her research on an online learning module she created that assisted students in understanding concepts like chemical equilibria and acid-base chemistry. Kelly and her faculty mentor, Dr. Tara Todd, senior lecturer in chemistry, developed the online module through the BOLD Fellows program sponsored by the Center for Teaching and CIRTL (Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning). The project was designed to assess whether this new online learning module helped students understand the concepts as well as recognize the conceptual similarities between equilibrium and acids and bases.
Kelly’s project utilized multiple forms of technology. She created and implemented videos that introduced and explained conceptual information relevant to equilibria and acids and bases. Students were also able to interface with an interactive simulation exercise about acid-base equilibrium using their knowledge from the videos and the lectures. After watching the videos, attending lectures, and utilizing the simulations, students would then complete their assignments and answer formative assessment questions. Kelly then analyzed the scores from the in-class formative assessment questions to determine if students’ overall performance on those questions changed. She also collected survey data on the students’ attitudes toward her new module.
At the conference, Kelly said many people were curious about the work she was doing, and that she received positive feedback from the conference attendees. She said, “Many people were curious about the BOLD program, how it worked, and gave graduate students this opportunity. I did get several questions about the in-video assessment, and how that was done, and what program was used… People were also very interested in the class size, and they were very impressed that we were able to do something like this in a class that was so large.” Kelly went on to relate the interest in class size to the teaching environments that many educators find themselves in at larger universities.
Reflecting on her experiences in the BOLD program and educational research, Kelly stated, “The thing that surprised me was the unexpected conclusions… I was able to draw some conclusions that we weren’t even looking for in the beginning, and I learned some things that we weren’t looking at specifically that would surprise you about how students perform better or worse overall depending on how a question is phrased, and things like that…”
When asked what encouraged her to participate in the BOLD program, Kelly discussed how much she enjoyed teaching, in general. She elaborated, “I’ve always really enjoyed teaching here, but the BOLD program seemed like a good experience for me to be directly involved in developing something for a course. When you TA, a lot of the materials are made for you, and you get to modify them slightly. But, I thought it would be a good opportunity to design something and actually be able to see the effect I has. It’s a very unique opportunity for a graduate student [in chemistry] to be able to do that.” Kelly also expressed interest in continuing the project and following the students to later courses, an aspect she was asked about at the ACS conference.
When Kelly was asked how her BOLD project changed her approach to teaching and/or research, Kelly said, “It’s definitely given me a different perspective on implementing new teaching methods in the classroom. But it has introduced me to a lot of these new tools and things that I didn’t know existed before. I now know these tools can be used as educational tools that can be effective in helping students learn. It gave me an appreciation for how much is out there… and the different things you can use in addition to your lectures that can help your students learn things more effectively.”