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Dr. Barbara Gonzalez

Research Interests

My research agenda in chemical education investigates the impact of visualization on conceptual understanding in chemistry along three pathways. One pathway investigates the impact of technological tools, a second pathway explores chemical literacy, and the third pathway applies my personal basic research agenda to the evaluation of the educational components of the projects of other scientists. The technological tools pathway incorporates studies in the effect of Web-delivered learning tools, computer-interfaced data collection devices, and Web-delivered tools for collection of chemical education research data. My chemical literacy studies explore how conceptual understanding is linked to formal logical reasoning; novice-expert problem solving patterns; and the developmental progression of fundamental chemical concepts such as density, physical change, chemical change, heat, temperature, energy, and the three-dimensional structure of atoms and molecules. As an evaluator I am often asked to assist scientists who do not have a background in chemical education to develop goals and objectives to evaluate the educational components of basic science research projects. I help them to plan and develop educational activities in conjunction with their grants. Scientific literacy is essential for the United States to maintain its technological advantage in a rapidly changing world. Chemistry education research provides answers to fundamental questions about teaching and learning chemistry that can lead to improved pedagogy, curriculum and instructions that promotes the scientific chemical literacy of our nation.