How Learning Styles, Chemistry Attitudes and Experiences, Confidence, and Demographics Correlate with Academic Success in First and Second Year Chemistry Courses
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At Brock University, the Faculty of Mathematics and Science currently has one of the highest percentages of students on academic probation, with many students reporting the most difficulty with Introductory Chemistry in first year and Organic Chemistry in second year. To identify strategies to improve students' performance and reduce the number of students on academic probation, a multi-year research project was undertaken involving several chemistry courses. Students were asked to complete three questionnaires, and provide consent to obtain their final Chemistry grade from the Registrar's Office. Research began at the end of the 2007-08 academic year with CHEM IPOO, and in the 2008-09 academic year, students in the larger CHEM IF92 Introductory Chemistry course were invited to participate in this research near the beginning of the academic year. Students who went on to take second year Organic and Analytical Chemistry were asked to complete these questionnaires in each second year course. The three questionnaires included the Kolb Learning Styles Inventory (Kolb, 1984) modified to include specific reference to Chemistry in each question, Dalgety, ColI, and Jones' (2002) Chemistry Attitudes and Experiences Questionnaire (CAEQ), and lastly, a demographic survey. Correlations were found between learning style and academic success; concrete learners were not as successful as abstract learners. Differences were noted between females and males with respect to learning styles, academic success, and confidence. Several differences were also noted between those who are the First in the Family to attend university and those who are not First in the Family to attend university.