Penn - Discovering a Domain Model for Organic Chemistry

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Summary Table

PIs John Penn (University of West Virginia), David Yaron, Geoff Gordon
Other Contributers Michael Karabinos
Study Start Date January, 2010
Study End Date January, 2011
LearnLab Site University of West Virginia, Sophomore Organic Chemistry Course
LearnLab Course Chemistry
Number of Students 1500 (over 5 years)
Total Participant Hours 15000


This project is analyzing data collected over the past five years in a organic chemistry homework and test system ( This system is used for required homework activities throughout the course, and is also used to deliver the high-stakes exams that determine the course grade. The system is comprehensive in that it includes all topics covered in this year-long course.

Background & Significance


Research questions

What information about a domain can be derived from a trace of student interactions with a set of questions that cover all topics in a course and are the primary mode of practice for students in such a course? Can this data be used to develop a cognitive model, including relations between topics and concepts?

Independent Variables

Dependent Variables




Further Information

John Penn is an external researcher (a professor at University of West Virginia) who has been developing a comprehensive question bank for organic chemistry for nearly a decade. Over this time, he has collected years of data on student interaction with the materials. He approached the center to find collaborations that could help him analyze this data. He visited the center, attending a PSLC lunch, a Chemistry course committee meeting, and a meeting with Yaron, Gordon and Karabinos to develop a plan for analyzing the data. The data is now being converted to the format needed for this analysis.

Connections to Other Studies

Annotated Bibliography


Future Plans