Each student in the study completed one topic without using scientific visualisations and another with their use.
The 'headline analysis of this study--addressing questions about whether teaching with visualisations is more effective in helping students come to understand chemistry concepts--involves comparing students' achievement when taught with visualisations with their achievement when taught without visualisations.
Table 4 shows the gain scores for students in the lowest, middle and highest achieving thirds of their classes, learning with and without visualisations.
This quantitative study was intended to answer particular questions about the overall effectiveness of scientific visualisations in Chemistry education that we felt had been slid across rather than really answered in research up to that point.
Another issue is the extent to which conceptual learning that occurs using visualisations is assessed using visualisations.
Having completed and reported this project, it seems to us that the logical next step is to conduct a more qualitative or mixed-methods approach, on a similar scale, to look more closely at both the details of the particular visualisations used and, more particularly, the kinds of educational uses that students and teachers make of them.
An increasing number of high school Chemistry teachers are using the new forms of scientific visualisation made available by widespread computer access--animations and simulations, both interactive and non-interactive--in their classrooms (e.g.
Is it more effective in terms of students' conceptual learning to use a scientific visualisation before a teacher-led explanation when teaching a Chemistry concept or to reverse this sequence?
All students were taught the concept over two thirty minute periods, using a scientific visualisation and a more traditional teacher-led discussion.
The visualisation used was one developed by McGraw Hill publishers and available online at: http://www.mhhe.com/physsci/chemistry/essentialchemistry/flash/lechv17.swf.
The teachers were encouraged to 'teach the topic as you usually would, if you were not using a visualisation', and (quite typically for senior chemistry classrooms) this approach was largely a combination of lecturing and whole-class discussion.
Of James' three classes, two (n=9 and n=18) received the visualisation lesson first, as whole classes, and the explanation lesson second.