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Is general chemistry too costly? How different groups of students perceive the effort and emotional costs of taking a chemistry course and the relationship to achievement.

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Cassidy Wilkes

It is well known that chemistry is one of the most feared courses in college. Although many students enjoy learning about science, most of them perceive that chemistry is “too difficult”. These perceptions of chemistry result in many students not considering STEM majors because they require chemistry courses. Ultimately, these perceptions are also thought to be related to high attrition rates of students who begin STEM majors but do not persist. The perceived cost of studying chemistry is a notion that many researchers have spoken about, but have not formally investigated. Students’ perceived costs of a chemistry class can be many, such as task effort, loss of valued alternatives, emotional, and others. These costs might be overcome  by students’ interests and goals, yet the level of perceived costs might have a lasting impact on the students’ overall perception of chemistry and their desire to pursue chemistry and other STEM careers in the future. In this mixed methods study we investigated task effort and emotional cost, as well as a mastery or performance goal orientation and the impact these constructs may have on achievement in general chemistry classrooms. Utilizing cluster analysis as well as student interviews, we investigated students’ profile of perceived cost and goal orientation as it relates to their final grades. Our results show that students who are well prepared for general chemistry, such as those who have taken AP chemistry in high-school, display less negative perceived costs and thus believe they can master the material more fully. Other interesting results have also emerged from this research, which have the potential to have an impact on future instruction of these courses. 
University / Institution: Southern Utah University
Type: Oral
Format: In Person
SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)
Area of Research: Science & Technology
Faculty Mentor: Guizella Rocabado
Location: Union Building, COLLEGIATE ROOM (4:30pm)