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2000 Summer Confchem: DiscussionA

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Summer 2000 CONFCHEM - ARCHIVE OF LISTSERV DISCUSSION: May 12 - 18, 2000
Week 1. Papers A-1 to A-3 by D. Mencer, J. Reeves, and B. Pankuch, respectively.
Papers available: http://www.ched-ccce.org/confchem/2000/b/index.html.
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Date: Fri, 12 May 00 08:01:44 EDT
From: Donald Rosenthal
Subject: Begin Short Questions for Papers A-1 to A-3

It is 8 AM on Friday, May 12.

Today you may send Short Questions to the authors of papers A-1 to A-3.

These Questions must be sent from the e-mail address you used to subscribe
to CONFCHEM and should be sent to CONFCHEM@CLARKSON.EDU.

Use the subject line to identify the paper (or papers) to which the
question is addressed - include your initials and the subject addressed -
for example:

SQ A-1, A-2 and A-3 JS: Q2- Disadvantages of the use of simulations

Answers to Short Questions and Discussion will begin on Monday NOT TODAY.

The papers and other information may be found at the CONFCHEM website:
http://www.ched-ccce.org/confchem/

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Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 08:20:22 -0400
From: Denis Bussieres
Subject: CONFERENCE ON COMPUTER SIMULATIONS

Hi everyone,

Today is opening the Session A of the CONFCHEM ON-LINE CONFERENCE :

THE USE OF COMPUTER SIMULATIONS IN GENERAL CHEMISTRY.

SCHEDULE
********
May 12-18, 2000 - SESSION A

Friday, May 12, 2000 - Short questions* for papers A-1 to A-3

Monday, May 15, 2000 - Answers* to short questions

May 15-18, 2000 - Discussion* of papers A-1 to A-3

* Make sure to refer to which author(s) you send an answer or comment
For example : ASQ-A1 for an answer to a short question on paper A-1
C-A3 for a comment on paper A-3

A-1 DEVELOPING AND IMPLEMENTING WEB-BASED COMPUTER SIMULATIONS FOR
IN-CLASS, INDIVIDUAL, AND SMALL GROUP WORK
by Donald E. Mencer, The Pennsylvania State University,
Hazleton Campus, Hazleton, PA 18201
dxm53@psu.edu

A-2 USING TECHNOLOGY TO SOLVE THE CONCEPTUAL RIDDLE:
"HOW CAN WE HELP THEM SEE WHAT WE SEE?"
by Jimmy Reeves, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
reeves@uncwil.edu

A-3 WHY USE ANIMATIONS AND SIMULATIONS?
by Brian Pankuch, Union County College, New Jersey.
pankuch@eclipse.net

The papers are available on the CONFCHEM website:
http://www.ched-ccce.org/confchem/2000/b/

Please read the first three papers - Papers A-1 to A-3.
If you have Short Questions about these papers or related topics
please send them TODAY to CONFCHEM@CLARKSON.EDU

Short Questions may be addressed to the authors and/or the CONFCHEM
registrants. Indicate on the subject line of your Short Question
message to which paper the question is addressed.

For example: SQ-A1 JS: Q1 - Use of the Ideal Gas Law Simulations.
addressed to "John Smith" (fictive name)

Answers to Short Questions should be sent to CONFCHEM@CLARKSON.EDU
early on Monday morning, May 8.

Discussion of the first three papers will occur between Monday and Thursday.

You may contact the authors directly to indicate typographical errors
or corrections which need to be made to the manuscript.

If you wish to participate in the Discussion or Send Short Questions,
messages MUST be sent to CONFCHEM@CLARKSON.EDU from the address
you used to subscribe.

More we will have questions, the better we will have a discussion next week.

Have a good conference ! ! !

Dr Denis Bussieres,
Professeur de chimie, UQAC,
555 Boul. Universite,
Chicoutimi, Qc. CANADA
G7H 2B1
Tel: 418-545-5011 poste 5074
Fax: 418-545-5012
e-mail: dbussier@uqac.uquebec.ca

President de la conference "Summer 2000 ConfChem" intitulee
"The use of computer simulations in General Chemistry"
http://www.ched-ccce.org/confchem/2000/b/index.html
Participez en grand nombre, _acces gratuit_ sur internet
(apres enregistrement)

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Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 10:02:33 -0400
From: Denis Bussieres
Subject: SQ-A1 DM: Chemophobia

Hi,

Each new tool or new way to do the same thing needs some time to get used
to it. That time must be spent trying to adjust either ourselves or the
manipulation of the tool to obtain the most efficient work and best result.

It is exactly the same for all kinds of computer usages, in classroom, in
lab or outside.

You refer to general chemophobia in the general population. Should we ask
ourselves "Why ?" Did we, as chemists, developped that kind of attitude
toward Chemistry by some sort of "hermetic" vocabulary. Terms and concepts,
all too often very abstract, are quite difficult to grasp or "see".

Question : What will the computer simulations do to help ?
Could it be one of the best way to democratize our science, our
chemistry knowloedge ?

Thanks,

Denis Bussieres

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Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 10:03:13 -0400
From: Denis Bussieres
Subject: SQ A2 JR : Meaning of numbers

Hi everyone,

Computers are everywhere. We use them, we depend on them for work, for
traveling, for banking, at home... Sometimes we wonder if human contact
will disappear or get "outdated". This is just a way of seeing things, a
way to manage activities or to optimise them.

Students are required to solve different problems and to do so use
calculator and/or computer. Some are rather keen to it, some not so keen.
You say : "... we must also ask them to make meaning from the numbers, and
describe the world they reveal". I refer to this as to "translate" words
into numbers or equation, and vice versa.

Question : As this "translation" being a crucial step in problem solving,
do you have some specific way of enhancing this step for your students ?
(Examples or suggestions)

Thanks,

Denis Bussieres

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Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 10:54:28 -0400
From: Denis Bussieres
Subject: SQ- A3 BP : Upgrading animations

Hi,

You refer to different generations of your first animation on the reaction
of a matal atom with a non-metal one. Each generation is a kind of
"upgrading" of the previous one by addition of some more details. This is
great and show how good is the technology to serve our purpose of
illustrating our concepts.

Question : With those upgrading and additionnal details added, is there a
way not to restrict the access _and_ the comprehension of the simulations ?
With to many details and infos, can one loose the overall image or concept
we are trying to explain ?

Thanks,

Denis Bussieres

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Date: Fri, 12 May 00 10:56:36 EDT
From: Donald Rosenthal
Subject: SQ-A1 DR: Some Short Questions for Paper A-1

SQ A-1 DR: Q1- Courses Taught at Penn State
In your Introduction you mention five courses offered to beginning
chemistry students at the Penn State campuses:
a. Introductory Chemistry
b. Principles of Chemistry
c. Problem Solving in Chemistry
d. Introductory and General Chemistry
e. Principles of Chemistry
You mention that b and c are not offered at your campus.
Are the courses offered at the various campuses (e.g. courses e
offered at your campus) much the same in topics covered, textbook
used, etc.?

SQ A-1 DR: Q2- Chemistry Lab Course
You mention that ". . some students take the lab concurrently, some
take the lab after completing the lecture, and some never take the
lab."
a. Chemistry is a laboratory science. How do you feel about students
who never take the lab course?
b. Do the simulations have any effect on student performance in lab?
c. Is the performance of students in the lecture course affected by
whether or not they take the laboratory course concurrently?
d. Do the simulations provide special benefits for those students who
never take the laboratory course?

SQ A-1 DR: Q3- Student Access to Computers
I assume the Group work occurs at the University.
a. What computer facilities are available to your students at the
University? Is there a problem obtaining access?
b. Do most students have access to computers in their dormitory rooms
or homes?

SQ A-1 DR: Q4- Sharing web materials
a. Do you provide your students with references to other web based
materials?
b. Are you willing to provide access to your simulations to students and
teachers at other schools?

Donald Rosenthal
Department of Chemistry
Clarkson University
Potsdam NY 13699-5810
ROSEN@CLVM.CLARKSON.EDU
Phone: 315-268-2352

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Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 12:09:20 -0500
From: "Gary L. Bertrand"
Subject: SQ-A1 GLB: Some Short Questions for Paper A-1

I was struck by the observation under "Assessment of Effectiveness of
Web-based Activities" of decreasing Teacher Evaluation scores with the
implementation of electronic materials. Some of my colleagues have
reported correlations of this type before - one who implemented MathCad
into a Physics course and another who implemented Mathematica into a
calculus course. In these cases, and in yours, it seems that the
electronic materials were made an integral part of the course. My use of
electronic materials has been in a supplementary role, and I have not seen
this correlation. I would appreciate your comments on this.

Along these same lines, and these observations are just my gut feelings, I
observed a dip in the overall quality of our incoming students in the
period that you were implementing these changes. Is yours the only section
of this course, or were there other concurrent sections being taught
without these materials? If so, were Teacher Ratings "normal" for the
other sections through this period?

I am impressed not only with the quality and quantity of your materials,
but also with the objectivity of your evaluation.

Gary

Gary L. Bertrand gbert@umr.edu www.umr.edu/~gbert
Dept. of Chem. (573) 341-4441 Fax(573) 341-6033
University of Missouri-Rolla Rolla, MO 65409-0010
===========================================
"Learning is NOT a Spectator Sport"

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Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 14:37:14 -0400
From: george long
Subject: Re: SQ-A1,2,3 GRL: Assesment

An issue that has been on my mind for some time is assessment of computer
based curriculum. There are a variety of methods used for this, but most
methods are conventional - by that I mean they could be applied equally as
well to any curricular change. For example, the use of student evaluations,
and then the double blind study of student performance on tests.

My question - Are these reasonable assessment methods for computer based
curricula ? the Software industry uses very different criteria in
evaluating software, that deals with ease of use, among other issues
(because the goals are different, of course). There seems to be no current
criteria for efficiency in delivering material for example. Also, The rate
of change in the available technology seems to be faster than the abillity
to study the use of the technology.

I'd be interested in any thoughts anyone might have on limitations of the
evaluation methods.

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Date: Fri, 12 May 00 15:39:35 EDT
From: Donald Rosenthal
Subject: SQ-A2 DR: Short Questions about Paper A-2

SQ A-2 DR: Q1- In your Introduction you pose the question:
What characterizes an effective animation or video?

What is your answer to this question?
What animations and videos do you use in your introductory course -
you reference a few in your paper, but are there others?
Your CM 102 syllabus does not reference any animations or videos.

SQ A-2 DR: Q2- In your Introduction you pose the question:
What are the most effective ways to expose students to simulations
and interactive exercises?

What is your answer to this question?
Can you provide information about the simulations and interactive
exercises which you use in your general chemistry course?

SQ A-2 DR: Q3- Approximately what fraction of student time devoted to
the study of chemistry is spent using simulations and interactive
exercises? Are there assignments?

Donald Rosenthal
Department of Chemistry
Clarkson University
Potsdam NY 13699-5810
ROSEN@CLVM.CLARKSON.EDU
Phone: 315-268-2352

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Date: Fri, 12 May 00 16:40:29 EDT
From: Donald Rosenthal
Subject: SQ-A3 DR: Some Short Questions about Paper A-3

SQ A-3 DR: Q1- Student Access to Animations and Simulations
Do your students have access to these animations and simulations
or are they only available in your lectures?

SQ A-3 DR: Q2- Do your students have access and do they use
other simulations in your general chemistry course?
For example, do they use simulations like those described in
Paper A-1?

Donald Rosenthal
Department of Chemistry
Clarkson University
Potsdam NY 13699-5810
ROSEN@CLVM.CLARKSON.EDU
Phone: 315-268-2352

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Date: Fri, 12 May 00 16:45:59 EDT
From: Donald Rosenthal
Subject: SQ NF: All Participants

Forwarded message sent from non-subscribed e-mail address

- ----------------------------Original message----------------------------
From: "Noah's Father"
Subject: Class Size

SQ Addressed to all Presenters and Participants: I am curious how much of
your efforts in computer usage are directed towards giving a "small class
size" feeling to otherwise large lecture sections. Though I appreciate the
wonder and utility of computers in the classroom, it seems to me the time
input and added equipment is not much different than adding a new faculty
line and diminishing the lecture class size, thus facilitating more
student-student interaction, allowing more "on the fly" assessment, and
generally providing for a more manageable, interactive atmosphere.

Nathanael Fackler
Nebraska Wesleyan University
Chemistry

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Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 16:52:39 -0400 (EDT)
From: Peter Chieh
Subject: SQ_A1: Use simulations for tasks?

Q1: I have read your paper and I have gone to your teaching web site to
look at some of the simulations you offered to your students. You have
used worksheets to guide your students' investigation. In other occasions,
you have used a form for students to submit work. Thus, some of your
simulations are sources of data for problems. They are actually sources of
homework, especially for group learning tasks. Are you using simulations
mostly for learning tasks?

Q2: Using simulations for homework is certainly interesting, but you have
devoted a lot of time in making these simulations up. Using CGI and
programs, you have used HTML Forms to evaluate students' work. Do
you see merit in using Forms to generate problems for students' home work,
and use computer to evaluate their work without the simulations?

Chung Chieh
Professor,
Chemistry Department, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
TEL:(519)888-4567-ext-5816
Cyber Office: http://www.science.uwaterloo.ca/~cchieh/cact/cact.html

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Date: Sun, 14 May 2000 07:23:14 -0400
From: Brian1
Subject: Re: SQ- A3 BP : Upgrading animations

Denis,
Thanks for the comments and questions. Could you elaborate a bit more
on the first question?
> Question : With those upgrading and additionnal details added, is there a
> way not to restrict the access _and_ the comprehension of the simulations ?

What access do you want to restrict? Are you asking can I just
allow one part of the simulation to be chosen and played?

Brian

Denis Bussieres wrote:
> Hi,
> You refer to different generations of your first animation on the reaction
> of a matal atom with a non-metal one. Each generation is a kind of
> "upgrading" of the previous one by addition of some more details. This is
> great and show how good is the technology to serve our purpose of
> illustrating our concepts.
>
> Question : With those upgrading and additionnal details added, is there a
> way not to restrict the access _and_ the comprehension of the simulations ?
> With to many details and infos, can one loose the overall image or concept
> we are trying to explain ?
>
> Thanks,
> Denis Bussieres

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Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 00:08:48 -0400 (EDT)
From: Peter Chieh
Subject: ASQ-A1 CC:Answer to SQs

Hi Everyone,

The following are sort questions and my response to them:

>Subject: SQ- A3 BP : Upgrading animations From: Denis Bussieres

You refer to different generations of your first animation on the reaction
of a matal atom with a non-metal one. Each generation is a kind of
"upgrading" of the previous one by addition of some more details. This is
great and show how good is the technology to serve our purpose of
illustrating our concepts.

Question : With those upgrading and additionnal details added, is there a
way not to restrict the access _and_ the comprehension of the simulations
?
With to many details and infos, can one loose the overall image or concept
we are trying to explain ?

====== ASQ-A3 CC Upgrading animations ======
We agree with you. If the animation or simulation has become too
complicated or contains too much information, students will probably not
get the message. However, what we meant by a different generation refers
to a version using a new generation of technology. With improved
technology, we can present the simulation better, not necessarily more
complicated or contains more information.
====== ASQ-A3 CC Upgrading animations ======

>*Subject: SQ-A1,2,3 GRL: Assesment From: george long

An issue that has been on my mind for some time is assessment of computer
based curriculum. There are a variety of methods used for this, but most
methods are conventional - by that I mean they could be applied equally as
well to any curricular change. For example, the use of student evaluations,
and then the double blind study of student performance on tests.

My question - Are these reasonable assessment methods for computer based
curricula ? the Software industry uses very different criteria in
evaluating software, that deals with ease of use, among other issues
(because the goals are different, of course). There seems to be no current
criteria for efficiency in delivering material for example. Also, The rate
of change in the available technology seems to be faster than the abillity
to study the use of the technology.

I'd be interested in any thoughts anyone might have on limitations of the
evaluation methods.

******* ASQ-A1,2,3 CC: Assessment ********
Frankly, we have not done an assessment study of animation or simulation.
Like many other educators, we make up these material hoping to achieve the
goal of making students see what we like them to see. We pulled students
opinion, and they did give favourable comments. However, the results did
not give quantitative indication of the effectiveness of animations and
simulations. How these were used also affects their effectiveness. We have
difficulty in giving double blind test, because we give all students equal
opportunities. We have about a thousand students in freshman chemistry,
and we offer the computer material to all. Some classes have been exposed
more to computer animations and simulations than others, but the
examinations do not test concepts involved in these simulations specifically.

Publishers of our textbooks are interested showing us how fancy their
visual clips of experiments are. The representatives are seldom interested
in what we have developed. So far, we have not got any software industry
to evaluate our computer simulations, partly because the technology
evolves so fast that no market has been developed for them yet.
******* ASQ-A1,2,3 CC: Assessment ********

>$$From: Donald Rosenthal
Subject: SQ-A3 DR: Some Short Questions about Paper A-3 From: Donald
Rosenthal

SQ A-3 DR: Q1- Student Access to Animations and Simulations
Do your students have access to these animations and simulations
or are they only available in your lectures?

$$$$ ASQ A-3 CC Students access $$$$
Students have access to the animations and simulations over many years
when students access the DOS version of our course information system.
Since we move to the Internet course sites, students are not given the
opportunity to access the DOS version of animations or simulations. Some,
but not all are shown during lectures recently.
$$$$ ASQ A-3 CC Students access $$$$

>##SQ A-3 DR: Q2- Do your students have access and do they use
other simulations in your general chemistry course?
For example, do they use simulations like those described in
Paper A-1?

####ASQ A-3 CC: Access to other simulations####
Our course Internet site has links to some other simulations. Some
students may have accessed to others, but we have no hard data on these
yet. We are aware of simulations in A-1 only recently, and our course
Internet site has not linked to these yet.
####ASQ A-3 CC: Access to other simulations####

?? Subject: SQ A-1,2,3 NF Class Size From: "Noah's Father"
nfackler@NebrWesleyan.edu>

SQ Addressed to all Presenters and Participants: I am curious how much of
your efforts in computer usage are directed towards giving a "small class
size" feeling to otherwise large lecture sections. Though I appreciate the
wonder and utility of computers in the classroom, it seems to me the time
input and added equipment is not much different than adding a new faculty
line and diminishing the lecture class size, thus facilitating more
student-student interaction, allowing more "on the fly" assessment, and
generally providing for a more manageable, interactive atmosphere.

????ASQ A-1,2,3 CC Class Size ?????
Come to think of it, your question hit the nail right on the head,
Professor Fackler. Because the class size is large (220 per class) and
students ability differs greatly. We provide animations and simulations to
help the weaker students. Strong students are able to handle abstract
concepts, and they may see the simulations and animations as trivial.
However, the availability of animations and simulations raises other
interest than science itself.
????ASQ A-1,2,3 CC Class Size ?????

Sincerely,

Chung Chieh
Professor,
Chemistry Department, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
TEL:(519)888-4567-ext-5816
Cyber Office: http://www.science.uwaterloo.ca/~cchieh/cact/cact.html

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Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 06:50:54 -0400
From: Brian1
Subject: ANS to SQ-A1

Hi,
Here are my answers to questions asked so far.
Brian Pankuch

SQ A-3 DR: Q1- Student Access to Animations and Simulations
Do your students have access to these animations and simulations
or are they only available in your lectures?

ANS
The animations I'm discussing are available to the students on the
Internet while we are using them in lecture. They are also available
in our Mac lab with 15 Mac G4's. This room is used by a number of
courses using PhotoShop, etc. So despite being open from 8:00 am to
10:30 pm and on Saturdays, students are not always able to use them
when they want.

SQ A-3 DR: Q2- Do your students have access and do they use
other simulations in your general chemistry course?
For example, do they use simulations like those described in
Paper A-1?

ANS
Additional simulations and animations are included in the programs I
wrote which are available in the Mac lab, and on the CD which can be
purchased with the text (Kotz & Treichel). We've gotten very good
reports from students using my programs and the Kotz CD.

My online syllabus contains links to many sites providing online
problems, simulations, etc. Student use seems to be minimal.

Question : With those upgrading and additionnal details added, is there a
way not to restrict the access _and_ the comprehension of the simulations ?

ANS

I haven't used any built in way of doing this, but it shouldn't be difficult to
start with a simple animation then copy that material (sprites) as a basis for
the next layer and just add the additional material to each successive layer.
This makes the animation longer.The resulting animation would be bigger for each
layer added but with streaming it should still start pretty much in the same
length of time. You could add buttons with scripts attached to interrupt the
flow through the whole animation and jump to a specific level, replay, have
questions appear.

Director is designed to allow custom libraries so once you get something you
like you can use it as a base in other animations and change colors, shapes, etc.

With to many details and infos, can one loose the overall image or concept
we are trying to explain ?

ANS
Yes certainly! Mostly I use these animations in the lecture where we
stop the animation and discuss frequently, or use the slow, stop and
back buttons to adjust the flow of material. I've been using a
technique of putting up a series of multiple choice questions on
material we've been covering. Students respond with cards indicatiing
their choice of an answer. When most of the class is getting the
correct answer I put up another question for them to work on, then try
to help those having a problem. If quite a few people are having a
problem then we discuss the material more.

I haven't included this type of question in the online animations.

An issue that has been on my mind for some time is assessment of computer
based curriculum. There are a variety of methods used for this, but most
methods are conventional - by that I mean they could be applied
equally as
well to any curricular change. For example, the use of student evaluations,
and then the double blind study of student performance on tests.

My question - Are these reasonable assessment methods for computer based
curricula ? the Software industry uses very different criteria in
evaluating software, that deals with ease of use, among other issues
(because the goals are different, of course). There seems to be no current
criteria for efficiency in delivering material for example. Also, The rate
of change in the available technology seems to be faster than the ability
to study the use of the technology.

I'd be interested in any thoughts anyone might have on limitations of the
evaluation methods.

ANS

As I mentioned I researched the efficiency of new techniques such as
PowerPoint in lectures, etc., and could only find anecdotal
information as to the effectiveness. Methods that are shown over time
to be effective with Harvard students are unlikely to be as useful
with my community college students. Let me quote one of my favorite teachers:

"You see, the problem of obtaining facts from experience-it sounds
very, very simple. You just try it and see. But man is a weak
character and it turns out to be much more difficult than you think to
just try it and see. For instance, you take education. Some guy comes
along and he sees the way people teach mathematics. And he says, "I
have a better idea. I'll make a toy computer and teach them with it."
So he tries it with a group of children, he hasn't got a lot of
children, maybe somebody gives him a class to try it with. He loves
what he's doing. He's excited. He understands completely what his
thing is. The kids know that it's something new, so they're all
excited. They learn very, very well and they learn the regular
arithmetic better than the other kids did. So you make a test-they
learn arithmetic. Then this is registered as a fact-that the teaching
of arithmetic can be improved by this method. But it's not a fact,
because one of the conditions of the experiment was that the
particular man who invented it was doing the teaching. What you really
want to know is, if you just had this method described in a book to an
average teacher (and you have to have average teachers; there are
teachers all over the world and there must be many who are average),
who then gets this book then tries to teach it with the method
described, will it be better or not? In other words, what happens is
that you get all kinds of statements of fact about education, about
sociology, even psychology-all kinds of things which are, I'd say,
pseudoscience. They've done statistics which they say they've done
very carefully. They've done experiments which are not really
controlled experiments. [The results] aren't really repeatable in
controlled experiments. And they report all this stuff. Because
science which is done carefully has been successful; by doing
something like that, they think that they get some honor. I have an example.

In the Solomon Islands, as many people know, the natives didn't
understand the airplanes which came down during the war and brought
all kinds of goodies for the soldiers. So now they have airplane
cults. They make artificial landing strips and they make fires along
the landing strips to imitate the lights and this poor native sits in
a wooden box he's built with wooden earphones with bamboo sticks going
up to represent the antenna and turning his head back and forth, and
they have radar domes made of wood and all kinds of things hoping to
lure the airplanes to give goods to them. They're imitating the
action. It's just what the other guy did. Well, a hell of a lot of our
modem activity in many, many fields is that kind of science. just like
aviation. That's a science. The science of education, for example, is
no science at all. It's a lot of work. It takes a lot of work to carve
those- things out, those wooden airplanes. But it doesn't mean that
they are actually finding out something. "

Given the variables of quite different classes and individuals with
different teaching styles and abilities the best I usually hope for is
being steered toward something I can start with then modify to my own
needs. This is very worthwhile since it frequently saves considerable
time on the basic material, increasing my efficiency at least. It is
often a good way to practice and learn a new technology, similar to
being mentored.

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Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 08:35:03 -0400
From: Denis Bussieres
Subject: Beginning of Discussion - Session A

Answers to the short questions will be distributed today.

The discussion on the three papers of session A is now beginning up to
Thursday May 18, 11:00 PM.

Make sure that you start your subject line with the appropriate heading :

Example : C-A2 for a comment on paper A2
C-A3 JS for a comment on paper A3 to "John Smith"
(Fictive name)

May the week bring fruitful exchanges.

Dr Denis Bussieres,
Professeur de chimie, UQAC,
555 Boul. Universite,
Chicoutimi, Qc. CANADA
G7H 2B1

Tel: 418-545-5011 poste 5074
Fax: 418-545-5012
e-mail: dbussier@uqac.uquebec.ca

President de la conference "Summer 2000 ConfChem" intitulee
"The use of computer simulations in General Chemistry"
http://www.ched-ccce.org/confchem/2000/b/index.html
Participez en grand nombre, _acces gratuit_ sur internet
(apres enregistrement)

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Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 08:51:53 -0400
From: Denis Bussieres
Subject: Re: SQ- A3 BP : Upgrading animations

Brian,

I was referring to the software complexity and compatibility because to add
more and more details mean having better/newer software which restricts the
access to those who do not have new computer and new software.

As your simulations get more and more detailed, isn't there too much info
(details) that student will not grasp at once ?

Or they need to replay it many, many times to get a good understanding of
most of these details ?

Denis

At 07:23 14-05-2000 -0400, you wrote:
>Denis,
>Thanks for the comments and questions. Could you elaborate a bit more
>on the first question?
>> Question : With those upgrading and additionnal details added, is there a
>> way not to restrict the access _and_ the comprehension of the simulations ?
>
>What access do you want to restrict? Are you asking can I just
>allow one part of the simulation to be chosen and played?
>
>Brian

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Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 09:04:17 -0400
From: Don Mencer
Subject: ASQ-A1 DM: Chemophobia

Answers follow the question . . .

At 10:02 AM 5/12/00 -0400, you wrote:
>Hi,
>
>Each new tool or new way to do the same thing needs some time to get used
>to it. That time must be spent trying to adjust either ourselves or the
>manipulation of the tool to obtain the most efficient work and best result.
>
>It is exactly the same for all kinds of computer usages, in classroom, in
>lab or outside.
>
>You refer to general chemophobia in the general population. Should we ask
>ourselves "Why ?" Did we, as chemists, developped that kind of attitude
>toward Chemistry by some sort of "hermetic" vocabulary. Terms and concepts,
>all too often very abstract, are quite difficult to grasp or "see".
>
>Question : What will the computer simulations do to help ?
> Could it be one of the best way to democratize our science, our
> chemistry knowloedge ?

I don't know that simulations, particularly the ones presently on my site,
are the best way to diminish chemophobia. Perhaps simulations of some type
could be produced that would be useful in efforts to "democratize our science".

In order to combat a "general chemophobia" it is important to know when and
how it develops. I am not sure that it is a result of "some sort of
'hermetic' vocabulary. Terms and concepts, all too often very abstract, are
quite difficult to grasp or 'see'." After all, the discipline of biology
shares many of these attributes and yet I do not think the general
population has a "biophobia". My best guess is that a general chemophobia
starts at a very early age . . . for example, an early lesson taught to
children is to stay away from cleaning supplies, paint thinners, and many
other household chemicals because they are "bad". Children are also
exposed to numerous sources of information that link the word chemical with
poisons, toxic waste, pollution, etc.

Efforts to offset all of these sources of information will have to reach a
broad audience (a larger segment of society than those taking college
chemistry). Perhaps these issues are best addressed through a large
organization like the American Chemical Society (consider all the National
Chemistry Week activities that reach a broad cross section of
society). They already have a range of outreach activities and they
produce educational materials for all age groups. They also have a large
number of volunteers who are already working to "democratize our science".

Don Mencer

>Thanks,
>Denis Bussieres

**************************************************
Donald Mencer
Dept. of Chemistry
Penn State University
Hazleton, PA 18201
Phone (717) 450-3095
FAX (717) 450-3182
e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
**************************************************
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 09:05:45 -0400
From: Don Mencer
Subject: ASQ-A1 DR: Some Short Questions for Paper A-1

Answers follow each question . . .

At 10:56 AM 5/12/00 -0400, you wrote:

>SQ A-1 DR: Q1- Courses Taught at Penn State
>In your Introduction you mention five courses offered to beginning
>chemistry students at the Penn State campuses:
>a. Introductory Chemistry
>b. Principles of Chemistry
>c. Problem Solving in Chemistry
>d. Introductory and General Chemistry
>e. Principles of Chemistry
>You mention that b and c are not offered at your campus.
>Are the courses offered at the various campuses (e.g. courses e
>offered at your campus) much the same in topics covered, textbook
>used, etc.?

"b" is offered as a stand alone course at our campus (it is the same as
"e"). However, at most PSU locations it is available along with a 1 credit
course "c. Problem Solving in Chemistry" (to those who test into
it). Instead, at our campus we are running "d. Introductory and General
Chemistry" a 5 credit course . . . of which 3 credits count as "b.
Principles of Chemistry" for majors that require the 3 credit course. Our
campus plans to switch to the 3 credit plus 1 credit course for the 2001 -
2002 academic year.

Penn State is a large system and students are relatively free to move from
one campus to another. Thus, the course content offered at most locations
will be very similar. So course "e. Principles of Chemistry" will be
taught with the much the same content at all locations. However, there is
some variation. There is not a requirement to use the same text at all
campuses and there are different texts in use.

>SQ A-1 DR: Q2- Chemistry Lab Course
>You mention that ". . some students take the lab concurrently, some
>take the lab after completing the lecture, and some never take the
>lab."
>a. Chemistry is a laboratory science. How do you feel about students
> who never take the lab course?
>b. Do the simulations have any effect on student performance in lab?
>c. Is the performance of students in the lecture course affected by
> whether or not they take the laboratory course concurrently?
>d. Do the simulations provide special benefits for those students who
> never take the laboratory course?

a. I do not like that some students are not required to take the lab and I
believe that it would be best if the lab were taken concurrently with the
lecture by all students in the lecture. However, PSU is a big system and
changes of such significance would have to be coordinated with other
colleges (ex. engineering) and with all campuses. The impact would be
dramatic on the University Park campus due to the magnitude of the
enrollments (if Peter Gold is following along he could comment on this).

b. I have not done an analysis to examine any correlation between the
lecture use of simulations and lab performance. Also, lecture and lab do
not always correlate perfectly. Students may be exposed to material in lab
first or in lecture first (for example if we offer the lab on Mon, Tues,
and Wed afternoons) the students who have lab on Wed. will have seen more
lecture material than those taking the lab on Mon. However, it may be
useful to pursue the idea of having students exposed to simulations before
doing an actual experiment (look ahead to Computer Simulations and
Tutorials for General Chemistry at University of Missouri-Rolla Gary L.
Bertrand, http://www.ched-ccce.org/confchem/2000/b/bertrand/bertrand.html).

c. I have been released from a course this fall and will use the
additional time to do the kind of numerical analysis needed to assess this
question. However, the results may be biased due to the way students are
placed in the courses. Students with stronger placement scores are
typically placed in lecture and lab concurrently during summer advising,
weaker students may get lecture only, and the students that place in to the
5 credit course are rarely placed in the lecture and lab
concurrently. Again, if Peter Gold is following along, he may have some
statistics regarding this issue for the University Park campus.

d. I hope that they do, however, I am not sure how to weed this out of any
objective data.

>SQ A-1 DR: Q3- Student Access to Computers
>I assume the Group work occurs at the University.
>a. What computer facilities are available to your students at the
> University? Is there a problem obtaining access?
>b. Do most students have access to computers in their dormitory rooms
> or homes?

a and b. There is a public lab with about 50 internet connected PCs (we
have about 1200 - 1300 students). It is open from 9 am to 10 pm M - F and
weekend hours are shorter. All residence hall rooms are connected to the
campus network. There are also some open ports available (in a few
buildings) for students with laptops to use (they can access the
internet). A survey of our freshman is done each year and a large fraction
(over half) of off-campus students have access to computers at their home
(apartment or parents home). This fraction increases each year. However,
from about 11 a.m. through midnight (and sometimes until 2 a.m.) the modems
for off-campus dial-up connections are saturated. You can get through but
it takes persistence. More modems are being added (I believe we are
increasing from 48 to 60).

>SQ A-1 DR: Q4- Sharing web materials
>a. Do you provide your students with references to other web based
> materials?
>b. Are you willing to provide access to your simulations to students and
> teachers at other schools?

a. Yes, but I need to revise my list. The welcoming page for each of my
courses include drop-down boxes listing links to some very good chemistry
sites. I would also like to provide links with-in my other materials
(on-line notes) . . . but then they will need to be maintained.

b. Yes, but please do let me know. I would also appreciate feedback
(positive or negative). In fact I would be willing to keep a list of
people using the page and I could let them know when new simulations are
brought on-line or when other major changes are made to the site.

>Donald Rosenthal
>Department of Chemistry
>Clarkson University
>Potsdam NY 13699-5810
>ROSEN@CLVM.CLARKSON.EDU
>Phone: 315-268-2352
**************************************************
Donald Mencer
Dept. of Chemistry
Penn State University
Hazleton, PA 18201
Phone (717) 450-3095
FAX (717) 450-3182
e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
**************************************************
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 09:10:58 -0400
From: Don Mencer
Subject: Re: ASQ-A1 GLB: Some Short Questions for Paper A-1

Answers follow each question . . .

At 12:09 PM 5/12/00 -0500, you wrote:
>I was struck by the observation under "Assessment of Effectiveness of
>Web-based Activities" of decreasing Teacher Evaluation scores with the
>implementation of electronic materials. Some of my colleagues have
>reported correlations of this type before - one who implemented MathCad
>into a Physics course and another who implemented Mathematica into a
>calculus course. In these cases, and in yours, it seems that the
>electronic materials were made an integral part of the course. My use of
>electronic materials has been in a supplementary role, and I have not seen
>this correlation. I would appreciate your comments on this.

The Teacher Evaluation scores that were discussed in my paper are from the
two questions on our evaluations that read "Rate the overall quality of
this course." and "Rate the overall quality of the instructor.".
Instructor ratings fell from Fall 96 (my first year at PSU) to Fall 97 and
to Fall 98. In Fall of 99 they rebounded to above the 96 level.
Course ratings fell from Fall 96 to Fall of 97 and levelled fro Fall
98. They rose in Fall of 99 to about the 96 level.

I think part of the problem with my materials early on was that (a) there
was less material and (b) the materials were much more crude than now. Now
that there is more material to seek out and more simulations to use, the
students perceive it as being a more important component of the course. I
also changed the way the on-line materials are used (the small group
student presentations to the entire class are no longer used in my course
as they were in Fall 97 and 98).

>Along these same lines, and these observations are just my gut feelings, I
>observed a dip in the overall quality of our incoming students in the
>period that you were implementing these changes. Is yours the only section
>of this course, or were there other concurrent sections being taught
>without these materials? If so, were Teacher Ratings "normal" for the
>other sections through this period?

Well . . . the class gpa fell from Fall 96 through Fall 98 even though
course retention declined (more students with low grades late
dropped). There was a modest improvement in class gpa this year (Fall 99)
but retention was poor again. These data indicate that student performance
was down for a couple (few?) years.

My section of Chem 12 (the 3 credit course) is the only one offered on our
campus in the Fall. It is offered again in the Spring, but the student
population is probably not the same (students are probably less well
prepared). The Spring section has a large fraction of students picking up
the course after dropping it in the Fall and also some people who tested
into Chem 12 but needed to complete a math course before taking the
chemistry. The best comparison I can make is to my Chem 17 courses (Fall
97 and 98). During Fall 97 I taught Chem 12 with the on-line materials (in
their original crude form) and the Chem 17 (the 5 credit course) with no
on-line materials. Evaluations were higher in Chem 17 even though the same
text was used, same content covered, and very similar tests given
(note: class size was smaller in Chem 17 and of course students received
more contact hours of instruction). The following fall I taught both Chem
12 and Chem 17 with the on-line components and course evaluations were
nearly identical even though Chem 17 was a smaller class.

>I am impressed not only with the quality and quantity of your materials,
>but also with the objectivity of your evaluation.

Thank you for your kind words. I would like to do much more in the way of
assessment. Of course this will take time away from material development.

>Gary
>
>Gary L. Bertrand gbert@umr.edu www.umr.edu/~gbert
>Dept. of Chem. (573) 341-4441 Fax(573) 341-6033
>University of Missouri-Rolla Rolla, MO 65409-0010
>===========================================
> "Learning is NOT a Spectator Sport"
**************************************************
Donald Mencer
Dept. of Chemistry
Penn State University
Hazleton, PA 18201
Phone (717) 450-3095
FAX (717) 450-3182
e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
**************************************************
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Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 09:31:01 -0400
From: Don Mencer
Subject: ASQ-A1,2,3 GRL: Assesment

At 02:37 PM 5/12/00 -0400, you wrote:
>An issue that has been on my mind for some time is assessment of computer
>based curriculum. There are a variety of methods used for this, but most
>methods are conventional - by that I mean they could be applied equally as
>well to any curricular change. For example, the use of student evaluations,
>and then the double blind study of student performance on tests.
>
>My question - Are these reasonable assessment methods for computer based
>curricula ? the Software industry uses very different criteria in
>evaluating software, that deals with ease of use, among other issues
>(because the goals are different, of course). There seems to be no current
>criteria for efficiency in delivering material for example. Also, The rate
>of change in the available technology seems to be faster than the abillity
>to study the use of the technology.
>
>I'd be interested in any thoughts anyone might have on limitations of the
>evaluation methods.

I believe that "ease of use" issues are important for all teaching/learning
materials (as well as for software, climate controls in automobiles,
etc). Materials that are complex to access, or use, provide one more
barrier to learning. I would guess that textbook publishers deal with
"ease of use" issues just in a way appropriate to that media. Just look at
a gen chem text and it seems they are paying attention to these
issues. Chapter summaries are provided, the chapters are broken into
sections, the end of chapter problems are divided by chapter section, lists
of key words at the end of each chapter often list the section the word
first appeared in, etc.

I am not sure what you mean by "efficiency in delivering material for
example" . . . I doubt that you mean the amount of time required to "cover"
the material as in a standard lecture? Some other measure of "efficiency"
is probably desirable (perhaps how long does it take for a student to
absorb/learn the material, apply it to answering questions, etc). This is
much harder to measure (especially if the situation does not allow for a
good control group).

Available technology does change rapidly . . . however, many of the types
of materials discussed in this conference are similar to other software
that has been available for years (from J. Chem. Ed. for example). There
are striking similarities when reading through J Chem Ed from the late 60's
and early 70's vs. present issues. The use of computers in teaching
chemistry is a "hot topic" during both time periods.

Another issue that concerns me is whether or not we are seeing a change in
the way students learn (or perhaps just the way they perceive that they
ought to be able to learn). I believe that my students are not as good at
taking notes during a lecture as my undergraduate colleagues were (early
1980's). Should we change our teaching methods to accommodate this or
should we provide "note taking tutoring" to correct the deficiency?

**************************************************
Donald Mencer
Dept. of Chemistry
Penn State University
Hazleton, PA 18201
Phone (717) 450-3095
FAX (717) 450-3182
e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
**************************************************
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 09:35:29 -0400
From: Brian1
Subject: Re: SQ- A3 BP : Upgrading animations

Denis,
Thanks for the clarification.

> I was referring to the software complexity and compatibility because to add
> more and more details mean having better/newer software which restricts the
> access to those who do not have new computer and new software.

As a developer when I update to a new version of Director, it will
ask me if I want to update the project I'm working on, once I say yes
it automatically updates the entire project. I've not had any
problems at this step, but they make frequent changes in the
interface, which requires substantial time to learn new ways of doing
exactly what you did before. The advantage of having new technologies
has outweighed this extra time--so far. I don't purchase the upgrade
unless for instance they are going to provide a better way of putting
projects online, the additional capability has to be worth the price
in time and $.

The free Shockwave plugin you used to watch my animations is upgraded
periodically and they do have a lot of new controls planned for the
future. Generally I'm sure there is some limit to how old a machine
it will work with, but we used it with 6 year old Macs. This
technology does require keeping up with new versions of the browser
and plugins.

> As your simulations get more and more detailed, isn't there too much info
> (details) that student will not grasp at once ?
>
> Or they need to replay it many, many times to get a good understanding of
> most of these details ?

As I mentioned in my other reply, in lecture I use multiple choice
questions with material to gauge student understanding.

Mostly I use these animations in the lecture where we stop the
animation and discuss frequently, or use the slow, stop, and back
buttons to adjust the flow of material. I've been using a technique
of putting up a series of multiple choice questions on material we've
been covering. Students respond with cards indicating their choice of
an answer. When most of the class is getting the correct answer I put
up another question for them to work on, then try to help those having
a problem. If quite a few people are having a problem then we discuss
the material more.

Brian

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 09:46:40 -0400
From: Don Mencer
Subject: Re: SQ NF: All Participants

Answer follows question

At 04:45 PM 5/12/00 -0400, you wrote:
>Forwarded message sent from non-subscribed e-mail address
>----------------------------Original message----------------------------
>From: "Noah's Father"
>Subject: Class Size
>
>SQ Addressed to all Presenters and Participants: I am curious how much of
>your efforts in computer usage are directed towards giving a "small class
>size" feeling to otherwise large lecture sections. Though I appreciate the
>wonder and utility of computers in the classroom, it seems to me the time
>input and added equipment is not much different than adding a new faculty
>line and diminishing the lecture class size, thus facilitating more
>student-student interaction, allowing more "on the fly" assessment, and
>generally providing for a more manageable, interactive atmosphere.
>
>Nathanael Fackler
>Nebraska Wesleyan University
>Chemistry

Part of my original intention was to change away from doing "plain lecture"
to a somewhat large (between 65 - 95) group of students. Small group
activities were being supported at PSU, so I developed a plan to use
technology to support small group work.

You are correct in asserting that "it seems to me the time input and added
equipment is not much different than adding a new faculty line and
diminishing the lecture class size". Although the exact dollars involved
in each method (add faculty line vs. support technology) probably vary
depending on how it is pursued (tenure-line faculty vs. full-time
nontenure-line vs. part-time instructors), your point is well
taken. However, there are political realities involved. At the present
time, technology is supported by the higher education establishment (and
expected by students and parents). Many colleges charge "computer fees" of
some sort and I rarely read or hear complaints about these fees (in
newspapers, magazines, or television). However, I do read about resistance
to tuition increases. Added faculty lines would be funded from tuition
increases.

One other issue is that the use of computers allows the student to control
his/her pace of interaction with the material. Even in a small class, the
instructor sometimes has to move on to new material before everyone is "up
to speed" on the topic being covered.

**************************************************
Donald Mencer
Dept. of Chemistry
Penn State University
Hazleton, PA 18201
Phone (717) 450-3095
FAX (717) 450-3182
e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
**************************************************
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 09:52:22 -0400
From: Jimmy Reeves
Subject: ASQ A-2 JR

SQ A-2 DR: Q1- In your Introduction you pose the question:
What characterizes an effective animation or video?
What is your answer to this question?

I have always felt that like any teaching tool, an animation or video must
be sharply focused on the message the instructor is illustrating. For this
reason, I prefer these media to be reasonably short in duration, without
talking heads or extensive dialogue, especially about unrelated topics. As
I said in the article, these materials are most useful to me when I can
provide the explanation, either by providing my own sound track, or
discussing it live in lecture. They can be particularly effective tools for
illustrating the macroscopic, microscopic, symbolic relationship by
providing concrete views of the same process (dissolution of sodium
chloride, for example) from each of the different perspectives.
But I think it must be emphasized that the answer to your question will
undoubtedly vary from instructor to instructor. For this reason, the most
effective video or animation may be the one that is most adaptable. As I
tried to emphasize in the article, the technology available today allows
each of us to tailor these materials to our needs, and any teaching aid will
be most effective if designed and integrated into the teaching rubric by the
instructor actually teaching the course.

What animations and videos do you use in your introductory course -
you reference a few in your paper, but are there others?
Your CM 102 syllabus does not reference any animations or videos.

The lecture portion of my introductory course uses a number of videos and
animation directly from "The Saunders Interactive General Chemistry CD-ROM",
as well as some that have been digitized and from various laser disks and
other older media sources. Since our students are not required to buy the
CD-ROM, and Web access to the course materials for the lecture is not
restricted, I cannot make these materials available for out of class viewing
over the Internet. In my distance learning version of the first semester
course, access to course materials was restricted and students were expected
to purchase the CD-ROM, so with the publisher's permission, I made
"realvideo" copies of these materials available as part of the Web-based
lessons. Materials being developed for the AACE (Anywhere, Anytime
Chemistry Experience) will also be made available in this format, again on a
restricted basis. It is my hope that projects such as digital libraries
will make more copyright free materials available, so the need for
restricted access is reduced.

SQ A-2 DR: Q2- In your Introduction you pose the question:
What are the most effective ways to expose students to simulations
and interactive exercises?

What is your answer to this question?

It seems to me that these materials offer the best hope of getting our
students actively involved in the learning process. To be effective, they
must be woven into the course fabric and they must carry course credit.
Question specifically targeted toward the concepts covered in the
simulations, including interactive ones that require its use, should be a
regular feature of course exams and quizzes. Often instructors report
success having students work on these types of materials in small groups in
the lecture (see Don Mercer's paper in this series). I also see a role for
these exercises as out of class assignments that tie into the laboratory or
supplement traditional homework problem sets. Many topics we teach require
memorization, or involve review of topics to which most students in the
class have already been exposed. In these cases, "mastery learning"
exercises can be envisioned that require the user to successfully answer a
series of questions before they receive credit for the exercise. My gut
feeling is that about one third of what I cover in lecture could be better
learned by most students using simulations and interactive exercises outside
of class; deciding which material to treat this way will be a key focus of
my future research.

Can you provide information about the simulations and interactive
exercises which you use in your general chemistry course?

Currently, I make significant use of ActivChemistry for my distance learning
students, and am in the process of developing the exercises and simulations
that will be incorporated into our "kitchen chemistry" laboratories. The
lessons learned from developing these materials (which are what funding
agencies appear willing to fund) will help us create the tools for
traditional courses that can have a lasting impact on student learning.

SQ A-2 DR: Q3- Approximately what fraction of student time devoted to
the study of chemistry is spent using simulations and interactive
exercises? Are there assignments?

For the distance learning students, 25 to 30% of their work involved
simulations and interactive exercises. They had weekly assignments that
involved some sort of technology-based activity. We are in the process of
developing similar exercises for the traditional lecture sections.

Jimmy

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 10:32:34 -0400
From: Jimmy Reeves
Subject: ASQ A-2 JR

SQ Addressed to all Presenters and Participants: I am curious how much of
your efforts in computer usage are directed towards giving a "small class
size" feeling to otherwise large lecture sections. Though I appreciate the
wonder and utility of computers in the classroom, it seems to me the time
input and added equipment is not much different than adding a new faculty
line and diminishing the lecture class size, thus facilitating more
student-student interaction, allowing more "on the fly" assessment, and
generally providing for a more manageable, interactive atmosphere.

This is a very interesting question; I'm afraid that like so many things in
education, it has no simple answer. It is certainly true that one key goal
in using technology is to get students more actively involved in their
learning, and in that way technology can break down the barriers that arise
from having large, impersonal lectures. In fact, in my experience
technology stands a much better chance of achieving this goal than hiring
the equivalent (in expense) number of faculty, since most faculty are hired
on the basis of their research interests and accomplishments, not their
teaching effectiveness, and their impact on personalizing introductory
courses is minimal at best. Of course, if the new hire were a chemical
educator whose research interests and skills were focused directly on
improving instruction in the introductory courses, the impact could be
substantial, but few departments seem interested in pursuing this course of
action. The other point to be made is that technology brings us unique
possibilities for making our very abstract concepts concrete, and well
designed materials can have an impact on student understanding for many
years. In the rapidly evolving age of information, we need to adapt our
message to the medium, and study how its unique features can impact their
learning.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 10:33:29 -0400
From: Don Mencer
Subject: Re: SQ_A1: Use simulations for tasks?

Answers follow each question . . .

At 04:52 PM 5/12/00 -0400, you wrote:

>Q1: I have read your paper and I have gone to your teaching web site to
>look at some of the simulations you offered to your students. You have
>used worksheets to guide your students' investigation. In other occasions,
>you have used a form for students to submit work. Thus, some of your
>simulations are sources of data for problems. They are actually sources of
>homework, especially for group learning tasks. Are you using simulations
>mostly for learning tasks?

Yes, at the present time most of my simulations are linked to learning
tasks (homework). I have found that student compliance with doing problems
from the back of each chapter is not good (one year I tried collecting it
for a small amount of credit . . . the fraction of students handing in
completed work from each chapter grew smaller as the semester progressed .
. . there is also a problem with copied work). Most students do complete
the on-line work related to the simulations even though I only collect each
assignment from a small fraction of the class. However, students can still
"collaborate" on the work.

>Q2: Using simulations for homework is certainly interesting, but you have
>devoted a lot of time in making these simulations up. Using CGI and
>programs, you have used HTML Forms to evaluate students' work. Do
>you see merit in using Forms to generate problems for students' home work,
>and use computer to evaluate their work without the simulations?

In fact I plan on adding some non-simulation "homework forms" within my
course notes during the summer break. These will be used when simulations
would be of little value (in my assessment). For example I plan to add
interactive forms for conversion of unit type problems (within the SI
system, moles/mass, mass/moles/volume/molarity, etc). The good points of
these involve immediate feedback (as long as a check feature is built in)
and a large number of problems (if they are generated using a random number
function). However, students must have access to a computer and the web
(although the interactive problems could be generated in a form that could
be downloaded and used off-line). Whether they will be "effective" remains
to be seen.

One concern that I have is the growing fraction of students who have
difficulty using their calculators properly. Has anyone else noticed this?

>Chung Chieh
>Professor,
>Chemistry Department, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
>TEL:(519)888-4567-ext-5816
>Cyber Office: http://www.science.uwaterloo.ca/~cchieh/cact/cact.html
**************************************************
Donald Mencer
Dept. of Chemistry
Penn State University
Hazleton, PA 18201
Phone (717) 450-3095
FAX (717) 450-3182
e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
**************************************************
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 11:12:18 -0400
From: Brian1
Subject: C- A-2

>SQ A-2 DR: Q3- Approximately what fraction of student time devoted to
the study of chemistry is spent using simulations and interactive
exercises? Are there assignments?

>For the distance learning students, 25 to 30% of their work involved
>simulations and interactive exercises. They had weekly assignments that
involved some sort of technology-based activity. We are in the
process of
developing similar exercises for the traditional lecture sections.

Jimmy,

Have you been able to judge which is more effective-- when you use
simulations and interactive exercises with
your lecture students, or with your distance learning students?

Why?

Are there any drawbacks to the online use?

Brian

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 11:22:44 -0400
From: Jimmy Reeves
Subject: RE: SQ A2 JR : Meaning of numbers

In response to Professor Bussieres question, and the comment just made by
Dr. Chieh:

Students are required to solve different problems and to do so use
calculator and/or computer. Some are rather keen to it, some not so keen.
You say : "... we must also ask them to make meaning from the numbers, and
describe the world they reveal". I refer to this as to "translate" words
into numbers or equation, and vice versa.

Question : As this "translation" being a crucial step in problem solving,
do you have some specific way of enhancing this step for your students ?
(Examples or suggestions)

One concern that I have is the growing fraction of students who have
difficulty using their calculators properly. Has anyone else noticed this?

I think calculators are a key factor in the tendency of students to seek
algorithms rather than understanding. If the proper formula can be found,
it becomes an easy matter to plug and chug their way to a solution, without
ever considering its meaning. When a students fail to realize that
3x10(-15) is not a reasonable answer for the number of molecules in a sample
of matter, it seems obvious that the problem extends beyond their inability
to use their calculators correctly. When I lecture, I emphasize the need to
estimate the size and indicate the unit of the answer they are seeking as
the first step in approaching a problem. The interactive exercises being
developed for AACE will explicitly require students to do this. In
addition, when I design multiple choice exams, I strive to make two of the
distracters "impossible" but achievable on a calculator if the data is input
incorrectly. For example, when asking a question on average atomic weight,
I provide answers that are below that of the isotope with lowest weight and
above that of the isotope with the highest weight. I also emphasize
conceptual questions that ask students to identify a picture that best
represents the physical situation indicated by a number (c.f.
http://aa.uncwil.edu/reeves/conceptual_project/WWWpages/focus_on_mass_2.htm ).

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 11:43:18 -0400
From: Denis Bussieres
Subject: C_A1-A2-A3: Calculator use

>One concern that I have is the growing fraction of students who have
>difficulty using their calculators properly. Has anyone else noticed this?
>Donald Mencer

This seems to be a general trend. Nowadays, students want the best way to
get the "wright" answer, whatever the process needed to get it.

I think the "key ingredient" in there is the "units". I insist and make
obligatory to give the "units" with the answer otherwise there is a penalty.
On the other end, I make sure they understand that "units" can help them
sometimes to find the way to get the answer they are looking for.

And calculator do NOT give "units"...

Denis Bussieres

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 11:48:43 -0400
From: "L. Peter Gold"
Subject: RE: SQ A2 JR : Meaning of numbers

At 11:22 AM 05/15/00 -0400, Jimmy Reeves wrote:
>In response to Professor Bussieres question, and the comment just made by
>Dr. Chieh:
>

>
>I think calculators are a key factor in the tendency of students to seek
>algorithms rather than understanding. If the proper formula can be found,
>it becomes an easy matter to plug and chug their way to a solution, without
>ever considering its meaning. When a students fail to realize that
>3x10(-15) is not a reasonable answer for the number of molecules in a sample
>of matter, it seems obvious that the problem extends beyond their inability
>to use their calculators correctly. When I lecture, I emphasize the need to
>estimate the size and indicate the unit of the answer they are seeking as
>the first step in approaching a problem.

Most general chemistry textbooks are contributors to this problem. They
say all the right things in Chapter 1 or 2 about looking at the
reasonableness of the answer but then forget about it in subsequent
chapters. The only exception of which I am aware is the new edition (3) of
Brady, Russell, and Holum. They go through this for almost every example
problem in the book. I don't know whether they also do it in the solutions
manual; if not, they should.

I present this idea to my students as "Wheeler's First Great Moral
Principle." John Wheeler is a physicist; he stated his principle in one of
his textbooks many years ago. It says, "Never solve a problem until you
know the answer."
- ------------------------------------------------------
L. Peter Gold phone (814) 865-7694
Professor of Chemistry fax (814) 865-3314
Penn State University
152 Davey Lab E-mail: LPG@PSU.EDU
University Park PA 16802
- ------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 11:52:16 -0400 (EDT)
From: Peter Chieh
Subject: CSQ_A1: Use of Calculator

Professor Donald Mencer wrote:

>One concern that I have is the growing fraction of students who have
>difficulty using their calculators properly. Has anyone else noticed
>this?

I have a system to let students write quizzes over the Internet. In one of
my Quiz questions the result expected is (1/4)e-9. On some of the
calculators, the student will see 0.000000002 and they enetered 2e-9 as
the answer. My computer system gave a zero mark for such an answer. The
student came to argue for marks in my office. I told him or her the answer
he or she entered has an error of 20%, and that was why the answer worths
zero marks.

Because of this incidence, I put a block of questions that gives similar
answers such as (1/3)e-9, (1/6)e-9, (1/7)e-9, (1/8)e-9, (1/9)e-9 etc to
make sure that each students will get one such a question. More students
came to argue, and I was glad to catch some of students' bad habbit.

Chung Chieh
Professor,
Chemistry Department, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
TEL:(519)888-4567-ext-5816
Cyber Office: http://www.science.uwaterloo.ca/~cchieh/cact/cact.html

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 12:02:57 -0400
From: Jimmy Reeves
Subject: RE: C- A-2

Have you been able to judge which is more effective-- when you use
simulations and interactive exercises with
your lecture students, or with your distance learning students?

Why?

Are there any drawbacks to the online use?

Brian,
I haven't really used these exercises with the lecture students except in
rare circumstances, but I anticipate that using interactive exercises with
students with whom I meet on a regular basis will be more effective, because
I can provide direct feedback and demonstrate their importance more
concretely. One of the problems with distance learners is that I tended to
loose contact with a large fraction of them for extended periods of time,
especially right after a holiday, even if they were handing in regular
weekly assignments and being constantly encouraged to attend weekly "chat"
sessions. Although others with whom I have spoken have had better success
at keeping distance learning students involved, most preferred a model where
face to face contact with students takes place on a regular basis. Students
also tell me that face to face meetings provide them better guidance than
detailed learning goals and instructions available to them on line

Having said that, I should also report that most of the distance learning
students found the ActivChemistry assignments very helpful, but I have no
direct evidence of their impact on student learning since the distance
learning students took the same exams as those who took the lecture, and
there were no questions on those exams designed to assess this issue.

Jimmy

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 11:00:34 -0500
From: "Gary L. Bertrand"
Subject: Re: ASQ A-2 JR

In responding to the question,
SQ A-2 DR: Q2- In your Introduction you pose the question:
What are the most effective ways to expose students to simulations
and interactive exercises?

you said:

>Many topics we teach require
>memorization, or involve review of topics to which most students in the
>class have already been exposed. In these cases, "mastery learning"
>exercises can be envisioned that require the user to successfully answer a
>series of questions before they receive credit for the exercise. My gut
>feeling is that about one third of what I cover in lecture could be better
>learned by most students using simulations and interactive exercises outside
>of class; deciding which material to treat this way will be a key focus of
>my future research.

Bravo! I've used "drill" tutorials on Names and Symbols for the elements
and Names and Formulas of ions in this way for several years with in-class
mastery quizzes, and it has been very successful. I will be very
interested in the list that you come up with.

There have been questions regarding Chemophobia, and the "small class
feeling". I think these mastery exercises make a small contribution in
addressing these problems. A student without this mastery sitting in a
class of any size is going to develop a phobia for the material pretty
quickly. One of the benefits of a small class is that the instructor can
recognize when a small portion of the class is no longer "following" the
material, and can spend some time with those students to identify the
problem and prescribe some remedial activity. Mastery drills (if properly
used) allow the student to identify weaknesses and take steps to remedy
them.

Gary

Gary L. Bertrand gbert@umr.edu www.umr.edu/~gbert
Dept. of Chem. (573) 341-4441 Fax(573) 341-6033
University of Missouri-Rolla Rolla, MO 65409-0010
===========================================
"Learning is NOT a Spectator Sport"
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 09:50:37 -0800
From: Marten Lettinga
Subject: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support

How do you handle students with computer phobias? In fact, some of us
still struggle with residual phobias even after many years of using
spread sheets, word-processors, drawing software and e-mail.
Teaching at a small satellite campus, I feel somewhat isolated in terms
of technical support. Perhaps, for that reason I have not ventured much
beyond "rudimentary" web-page design or playing around a bit with WebCT.
I do however encourage students to use the interactive Chem1 lesson set
(developed by Steve Lower at Simon Fraser U., see www.chem1.com) for
which we have a site-licence in our campus computer lab. Would I not be
re-inventing the wheel if I "attempted" to develop mu own lesser quality
web-based materials? On the other hand, merely providing links on my
web-page to various web-based learning resources almost seems like
intellectual piracy. To what extent are web-based materials the
intellectual property of the faculty member or the University? Any
guidelines as to what one can copy onto or link to their own web-page?
- --
*************************************************************
Marten Lettinga, B.Sc, B.Ed, M.Sc.
Chemist/Physicist
University College of the Cariboo
Suite 301 - 383 Oliver Street,
Williams Lake, B.C. V2G 1M4 CANADA
Voice: 1-250-392-8112
Fax: 1-250-392-4984
Mailto:lettinga@cariboo.bc.ca
http://www.cariboo.bc.ca/wlake/schs/chem

**************************************************************
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 13:28:50 -0400 (EDT)
From: Dr Robert Lancashire
Subject: RL Re: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support

On Mon, 15 May 2000, Marten Lettinga wrote:

> web-based materials? On the other hand, merely providing links on my
> web-page to various web-based learning resources almost seems like
> intellectual piracy. To what extent are web-based materials the
> intellectual property of the faculty member or the University? Any
> guidelines as to what one can copy onto or link to their own web-page?
> --

Marten,

I think you worry too much. If you provide a link to pages elsewhere and
it is obvious that the link is to off-campus work then your own
Institution can not be accused of piracy.
I think of it as references to books in the library. If you don't copy out
the work as your own but do acknowledge help and inspiration then all
should be OK.

What offended me deeply was someone who copied 50 files from my site and
put them on their own and apart from a note on 1 page which said this was
"adapted from .. " there was no mention of whose work it was and the
reasonable assumption was that it was the work of the lecturer at that
Institution.

Search engines are great for finding people who steal your work!

Most authors I speak to seem more than happy to have their work cited and
links put to their pages. If the traffic gets unreasonable they will no
doubt move more stuff behind firewalls so I guess these things need to be
discussed with the webmaster.

Every Tues afternoon for a 2 month period I was getting downloads from a
Uni in Italy that seemed to be using parts of an on-line Lab Manual, it
caused no problem and I never heard from them.

Until recently none of our pages had a copyright sign on them but this
changed last year and since then as part of any updates to pages this is
added. I am assured that the absence of the sign does not mean that the
copyright is not there.

Any one else have similar experiences?
Robert

______________________________________________________________________
Dr. Robert J. Lancashire E-mail mailto:rjlanc@uwimona.edu.jm
SubDean, Technology Management and Development
Department of Chemistry Tel (876) 9271910
University of the West Indies, Kingston 7 Fax (876) 9771835
Mona Campus, JAMAICA. http://wwwchem.uwimona.edu.jm:1104/chrl.html

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 16:29:00 -0400
From: Don Mencer
Subject: DM Re: RL Re: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support

I would second Dr. Lancashire's analogy (see below) between links to web
sites and references to books in the library. It is certainly appropriate
to be clear that it is not your own work. It is also nice to ask before
linking . . . I doubt that you will have many objections.

I agree that mass copying of the files is not appropriate unless the author
has given permission to duplicate the materials on another server (for
example to cut down on server traffic) and the original source is cited.

I would also add that links to other sites need to be verified periodically
(I have just found some "dead links" on my pages that need to be removed).

Don Mencer

At 01:28 PM 5/15/00 -0400, Dr. Robert J. Lancashire wrote:
>On Mon, 15 May 2000, Marten Lettinga wrote:
> > web-based materials? On the other hand, merely providing links on my
> > web-page to various web-based learning resources almost seems like
> > intellectual piracy. To what extent are web-based materials the
> > intellectual property of the faculty member or the University? Any
> > guidelines as to what one can copy onto or link to their own web-page?
> > --
>
>Marten,
>
>I think you worry too much. If you provide a link to pages elsewhere and
>it is obvious that the link is to off-campus work then your own
>Institution can not be accused of piracy.
>I think of it as references to books in the library. If you don't copy out
>the work as your own but do acknowledge help and inspiration then all
>should be OK.
>
>What offended me deeply was someone who copied 50 files from my site and
>put them on their own and apart from a note on 1 page which said this was
>"adapted from .. " there was no mention of whose work it was and the
>reasonable assumption was that it was the work of the lecturer at that
>Institution.
>
>Search engines are great for finding people who steal your work!
>
>Most authors I speak to seem more than happy to have their work cited and
>links put to their pages. If the traffic gets unreasonable they will no
>doubt move more stuff behind firewalls so I guess these things need to be
>discussed with the webmaster.
>
>Every Tues afternoon for a 2 month period I was getting downloads from a
>Uni in Italy that seemed to be using parts of an on-line Lab Manual, it
>caused no problem and I never heard from them.
>
>Until recently none of our pages had a copyright sign on them but this
>changed last year and since then as part of any updates to pages this is
>added. I am assured that the absence of the sign does not mean that the
>copyright is not there.
>
>Any one else have similar experiences?
>Robert
>______________________________________________________________________
>Dr. Robert J. Lancashire E-mail mailto:rjlanc@uwimona.edu.jm
>SubDean, Technology Management and Development
>Department of Chemistry Tel (876) 9271910
>University of the West Indies, Kingston 7 Fax (876) 9771835
>Mona Campus, JAMAICA. http://wwwchem.uwimona.edu.jm:1104/chrl.html
**************************************************
Donald Mencer
Dept. of Chemistry
Penn State University
Hazleton, PA 18201
Phone (717) 450-3095
FAX (717) 450-3182
e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
**************************************************
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 18:20:02 -0400
From: Brian1
Subject: Re: DM Re: RL Re: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support

> I would also add that links to other sites need to be verified periodically
> (I have just found some "dead links" on my pages that need to be removed).
>
> Don Mencer

Don,
A little off topic, do you or anyone else know of software that will
check external links? It is important to keep the links 'hot' but I'd
much rather have my computer do the checking!

Thanks,
Brian

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 17:50:30 -0400 (EDT)
From: Dr Robert Lancashire
Subject: Re: DM Re: RL Re: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support

On Mon, 15 May 2000, Brian1 wrote:

> > I would also add that links to other sites need to be verified periodically
> > (I have just found some "dead links" on my pages that need to be removed).
> >
> > Don Mencer
> Don,
> A little off topic, do you or anyone else know of software that will
> check external links? It is important to keep the links 'hot' but I'd
> much rather have my computer do the checking!
> Thanks,
> Brian

Brian

you may want to look at http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html

I tried the demo of WebMapper some time ago and it worked fine but never
bought it. The link above is to a free program which claims to do just a
good a job. I have not yet tried it myself but am downloading it tonight
to give it a try.

Robert

ps
on the bottom of each page as well as adding copyrights I have been adding
a note to say when I tested the links last. This can be very time
consuming with hundreds of pages to work through.

______________________________________________________________________
Dr. Robert J. Lancashire E-mail mailto:rjlanc@uwimona.edu.jm
SubDean, Technology Management and Development
Department of Chemistry Tel (876) 9271910
University of the West Indies, Kingston 7 Fax (876) 9771835
Mona Campus, JAMAICA. http://wwwchem.uwimona.edu.jm:1104/chrl.html

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 17:30:41 +0000
From: Walt Volland
Subject: Re: ASQ A-2 JR

I agree with Jimmie. The animations and graphics need to be infused into the
syllabus. They have greater value. I have used animations in quizzes and feel they
add a dimension that is not possible in a traditional question format. The quiz at
this link includes two simple animations.

http://www.scidiv.bcc.ctc.edu/wv/7/spq6/spq6.html

Jimmy Reeves wrote:
> SQ A-2 DR: Q1- In your Introduction you pose the question:
> What characterizes an effective animation or video?
> What is your answer to this question?
>
> SQ A-2 DR: Q2- In your Introduction you pose the question:
> What are the most effective ways to expose students to simulations
> and interactive exercises?
>
> What is your answer to this question?
>
> It seems to me that these materials offer the best hope of getting our
> students actively involved in the learning process. To be effective, they
> must be woven into the course fabric and they must carry course credit.
> Question specifically targeted toward the concepts covered in the
> simulations, including interactive ones that require its use, should be a
> regular feature of course exams and quizzes.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 17:51:02 +0000
From: Walt Volland
Subject: Re: C_A1-A2-A3: Calculator use & sf

I second these thoughts. Significant figures are another "victem" topic in
freshman chemistry. The multiple choice questions often encourage the answer
only attitude. The need for supporting setpups or analysis is important IMHO.

Walt Volland
Department of Chemistry
Bellevue Community College
Bellevue, Washington 98007
425-747-4455

Denis Bussieres wrote:

> >One concern that I have is the growing fraction of students who have
> >difficulty using their calculators properly. Has anyone else noticed this?
> snip
> >Donald Mencer
>
> This seems to be a general trend. Nowadays, students want the best way to
> get the "wright" answer, whatever the process needed to get it.
>
> I think the "key ingredient" in there is the "units". I insist and make
> obligatory to give the "units" with the answer....snip snip
> And calculator do NOT give "units"...
>
> Denis Bussieres

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 18:50:23 PDT
From: "GARY E MORT"
Subject: Re: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support -- URL check

Try: http://pauillac.inria.fr/~fpottier/brother.html.en

gm

Gary Mort (mortg@lanecc.edu)
Chemistry (541-747-4501 ext 2471)
Lane Community College
4000 E 30th Av
Eugene OR 97405

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Original Message - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
From: "Brian1"
Subject: Re: DM Re: RL Re: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support
Date: 05/15/00 15:20

> I would also add that links to other sites need to be verified periodically
> (I have just found some "dead links" on my pages that need to be removed).
>
> Don Mencer

Don,
A little off topic, do you or anyone else know of software that will
check external links? It is important to keep the links 'hot' but I'd
much rather have my computer do the checking!

Thanks,
Brian

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 02:23:42 +0000
From: Walt Volland
Subject: Re: C- A-2-JR DL online & campus classes

Hello everyone,

I have had the luxury (?) of teaching sections of the same class both
online and on campus simultaneously. The 20-30 DL (online) students were
scattered across 90,000 square miles of Washington State, so we never
saw one another face to face.

The situation was eye opening. Both classes had access to the online materials
which include some animations. The on campus group performed much better than a
typical on campus class. The on campus and online students performed about the same.

The attrition rates and gpa were similar for both classes.

Short question for JR How many students have participated in the various
classes where the animations have been used?

Walt Volland
Department of Chemistry
Bellevue Community College
Bellevue, Washington 98007
425-747-4455

Jimmy Reeves wrote:
> Have you been able to judge which is more effective-- when you use
> simulations and interactive exercises with
> your lecture students, or with your distance learning students?
>
> Why?
>
> Are there any drawbacks to the online use?
>
> Brian,
> I haven't really used these exercises with the lecture students except in
> rare circumstances, but I anticipate that using interactive exercises with
> students with whom I meet on a regular basis will be more effective,...
>
> Jimmy

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 02:30:47 +0000
From: Walt Volland
Subject: Re: SQ NF-A1--DM: class size & cost

Hello everyone,
I agree that an additional faculty member allows for smaller class sizes.
However, just because the class size goes down by half doesn't necessarily
alter what the student sees in lecture. Adding faculty doesn't necessarily
improve our student's views and perceptions of chemistry models.

I think Donald is right when he trys to compensate for large class sizes. I
think simulations and animations offer a way to do this. They also do more
than that, because they offer students more than one bite at the apple.
Students can get some experience with the principles without worrying about
their limited access to a lab. When they work with the simulations and
animations they are not hampered by a lack of lab skills. They are potentially
free from schedule limitations. The animations create a version of an "open"
lab.

Regarding the cost issue, many colleges are willing to buy computers and
software regardless of whether or not chemistry faculty incorporate them into
their classes. Much of the expense of computers will be incurred by the
institution no matter what chemistry faculty do.

Short question: Have any students commented on the convenience of accessing
the simulations at off hours?

Walt Volland
Department of Chemistry
Bellevue Community College
Bellevue, Washington 98007
425-747-4455

Don Mencer wrote:

> Answer follows question
>
> At 04:45 PM 5/12/00 -0400, you wrote:
> >Forwarded message sent from non-subscribed e-mail address
> >----------------------------Original message----------------------------
> >From: "Noah's Father"
> >Subject: Class Size
> >
> >SQ Addressed to all Presenters and Participants: I am curious how much of
> >input and added equipment is not much different than adding a new faculty
> >line and diminishing the lecture class size, thus facilitating more
> >student-student interaction, allowing more "on the fly" assessment, and
> >generally providing for a more manageable, interactive atmosphere.
> >
> >Nathanael Fackler
> >Nebraska Wesleyan University
> >Chemistry
>
> Part of my original intention was to change away from doing "plain lecture"
> to a somewhat large (between 65 - 95) group of students.
>
> You are correct in asserting that "it seems to me the time input and added
> equipment is not much different than adding a new faculty line and
> diminishing the lecture class size". ...

> Many colleges charge "computer fees" of
> some sort and I rarely read or hear complaints about these fees (in
> newspapers, magazines, or television). However, I do read about resistance
> to tuition increases. Added faculty lines would be funded from tuition
> increases.
>
> One other issue is that the use of computers allows the student to control
> his/her pace of interaction with the material. Even in a small class, the
> instructor sometimes has to move on to new material before everyone is "up
> to speed" on the topic being covered.
>
> **************************************************
> Donald Mencer
> Dept. of Chemistry
> Penn State University
> Hazleton, PA 18201
> Phone (717) 450-3095
> FAX (717) 450-3182
> e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
> http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
> **************************************************
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 07:30:06 -0400
From: Brian1
Subject: Re: C- A-2-JR DL online & campus classes

Walt,
How did the attrition rates and gpa of your classes that had access to
online material compare to those that did not have access? Can you
show us the numbers for all three groups?

I took a look at your animated online quiz, very clever. Do you
notice any difference in the correctness and quality of answers you
get by adding the animation?

Brian

Walt Volland wrote:
>
> Hello everyone,
>
> I have had the luxury (?) of teaching sections of the same class both
> online and on campus simultaneously. The 20-30 DL (online) students were
> scattered across 90,000 square miles of Washington State, so we never
> saw one another face to face.
>
> The situation was eye opening. Both classes had
> access to the online materials which include some animations. The on
> campus group performed much better than a typical on campus class. The
> on campus
> and online students performed about the same.
>
> The attrition rates and gpa were similar for both classes.
>
> Short question for JR How many students have participated in the various
> classes where the animations have been used?
>
> Walt Volland
> Department of Chemistry
> Bellevue Community College
> Bellevue, Washington 98007
> 425-747-4455
>
> Jimmy Reeves wrote:
>
> > Have you been able to judge which is more effective-- when you use
> > simulations and interactive exercises with
> > your lecture students, or with your distance learning students?
> >
> > Why?
> >
> > Are there any drawbacks to the online use?
> >
> > Brian,
> > I haven't really used these exercises with the lecture students except in
> > rare circumstances, but I anticipate that using interactive exercises with
> > students with whom I meet on a regular basis will be more effective,...
> >
> > Jimmy

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 09:06:05 -0400
From: Don Mencer
Subject: Re: RL Re: DM Re: RL Re: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support

At 05:50 PM 5/15/00 -0400, Robert J. Lancashire wrote:

>On Mon, 15 May 2000, Brian1 wrote:
> >
> > > I would also add that links to other sites need to be verified periodically
> > > (I have just found some "dead links" on my pages that need to be removed).
> > >
> > > Don Mencer
> >
> > Don,
> > A little off topic, do you or anyone else know of software that will
> > check external links? It is important to keep the links 'hot' but I'd
> > much rather have my computer do the checking!
> >
> > Thanks,
> > Brian
>
>Brian
>
>you may want to look at http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html
>
>I tried the demo of WebMapper some time ago and it worked fine but never
>bought it. The link above is to a free program which claims to do just a
>good a job. I have not yet tried it myself but am downloading it tonight
>to give it a try.
>
>Robert
>
>ps
>on the bottom of each page as well as adding copyrights I have been adding
>a note to say when I tested the links last. This can be very time
>consuming with hundreds of pages to work through.

Brian,

I have been checking links myself . . . but as my site grew larger I did
not keep up as well as I should. I had also examined a couple of programs
but did not buy them.

I downloaded and tried the program suggested above and it worked well. I
think the program is worth checking out. I especially liked the report it
prepared (it included a site map). Note that the program may report errors
for https:// sites, but this can be avoided (see the download site for
details).

Don Mencer

**************************************************
Donald Mencer
Dept. of Chemistry
Penn State University
Hazleton, PA 18201
Phone (717) 450-3095
FAX (717) 450-3182
e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
**************************************************
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 09:42:20 -0400
From: Don Mencer
Subject: Dm Re: WV Re: C_A1-A2-A3: Calculator use & sf

I would agree with all that has been said here . . . set-ups and all work
should be shown clearly with units (units matter before the final answer),
answers to intermediate steps should not be rounded to one significant
figure (causing huge errors in the final answer), and exams and quizzes
should emphasize the process as well as getting the right answer.

On my exams and quizzes I rarely use multiple choice for numerical problems
(but I do use them for conceptual questions). However, my class size is
small enough that I can grade open ended questions (providing the
opportunity to see where students are running into problems). Any
suggestions for instructors with class sizes of 200, 250, or even 400
students?

I also liked Walt Volland's on-line quiz
(http://www.scidiv.bcc.ctc.edu/wv/7/spq6/spq6.html) with animations. I am
not sure how I could use such a quiz in a supervised setting (due to the
logistics . . . too many students for any of computer labs) and I would not
want to give quizzes on-line that would be done outside of class time (for
example in dorm rooms). Any thoughts on how we can do on-line testing and
be satisfied that the work submitted is actually done by the student who
will receive the grade?

Don Mencer

At 05:51 PM 5/15/00 +0000, Walt Volland wrote:
>I second these thoughts. Significant figures are another "victem" topic in
>freshman chemistry. The multiple choice questions often encourage the answer
>only attitude. The need for supporting setpups or analysis is important IMHO.
>
>Walt Volland
>Department of Chemistry
>Bellevue Community College
>Bellevue, Washington 98007
>425-747-4455
>
>Denis Bussieres wrote:
> >
> > >One concern that I have is the growing fraction of students who have
> > >difficulty using their calculators properly. Has anyone else noticed
> this?
> > snip
> > >Donald Mencer
> >
> > This seems to be a general trend. Nowadays, students want the best way to
> > get the "wright" answer, whatever the process needed to get it.
> >
> > I think the "key ingredient" in there is the "units". I insist and make
> > obligatory to give the "units" with the answer....snip snip
> > And calculator do NOT give "units"...
> >
> > Denis Bussieres

**************************************************
Donald Mencer
Dept. of Chemistry
Penn State University
Hazleton, PA 18201
Phone (717) 450-3095
FAX (717) 450-3182
e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
**************************************************
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 09:59:00 -0400
From: Don Mencer
Subject: DM Re: WV Re: SQ NF-A1--DM: class size & cost

Student surveys and comments indicate that they (or at least the majority)
like the on-line materials. However, convenience is rarely mentioned.

Off-campus students actually complain due to the difficulties in getting a
dial-up connection (heavy modem use) and the busy campus student labs
(although they are rarely busy at 9:00 am or on the weekends).

Students in the residence halls do not face this issue (they are actually
forbidden dial-up access and must use a obtain a network card . . . which
of course gives them a fast connection).

I think that students quickly become accustomed to the on-line materials
and feel inconvenienced if they cannot access them with great ease.

Don Mencer

At 02:30 AM 5/16/00 +0000, Walt Volland wrote:
>Hello everyone,
>I agree that an additional faculty member allows for smaller class sizes.
>However, just because the class size goes down by half doesn't necessarily
>alter what the student sees in lecture. Adding faculty doesn't necessarily
>improve our student's views and perceptions of chemistry models.
>
>I think Donald is right when he trys to compensate for large class sizes. I
>think simulations and animations offer a way to do this. They also do more
>than that, because they offer students more than one bite at the apple.
>Students can get some experience with the principles without worrying about
>their limited access to a lab. When they work with the simulations and
>animations they are not hampered by a lack of lab skills. They are potentially
>free from schedule limitations. The animations create a version of an "open" lab.
>
>Regarding the cost issue, many colleges are willing to buy computers and
>software regardless of whether or not chemistry faculty incorporate them into
>their classes. Much of the expense of computers will be incurred by the
>institution no matter what chemistry faculty do.
>
>Short question: Have any students commented on the convenience of accessing
>the simulations at off hours?
>
>Walt Volland
>Department of Chemistry
>Bellevue Community College
>Bellevue, Washington 98007
>425-747-4455
>
>Don Mencer wrote:
>
> > Answer follows question
> >
> > At 04:45 PM 5/12/00 -0400, you wrote:
> > >Forwarded message sent from non-subscribed e-mail address
> > >
> > >----------------------------Original message----------------------------
> > >From: "Noah's Father"
> > >Subject: Class Size
> > >
> > >SQ Addressed to all Presenters and Participants: I am curious how much of
> > >input and added equipment is not much different than adding a new faculty
> > >line and diminishing the lecture class size, thus facilitating more
> > >student-student interaction, allowing more "on the fly" assessment, and
> > >generally providing for a more manageable, interactive atmosphere.
> > >
> > >Nathanael Fackler
> > >Nebraska Wesleyan University
> > >Chemistry
> >
> > Part of my original intention was to change away from doing "plain lecture"
> > to a somewhat large (between 65 - 95) group of students.
> >
> > You are correct in asserting that "it seems to me the time input and added
> > equipment is not much different than adding a new faculty line and
> > diminishing the lecture class size". ...
>
> > Many colleges charge "computer fees" of
> > some sort and I rarely read or hear complaints about these fees (in
> > newspapers, magazines, or television). However, I do read about resistance
> > to tuition increases. Added faculty lines would be funded from tuition
> > increases.
> >
> > One other issue is that the use of computers allows the student to control
> > his/her pace of interaction with the material. Even in a small class, the
> > instructor sometimes has to move on to new material before everyone is "up
> > to speed" on the topic being covered.
> >
> > **************************************************
> > Donald Mencer
> > Dept. of Chemistry
> > Penn State University
> > Hazleton, PA 18201
> > Phone (717) 450-3095
> > FAX (717) 450-3182
> > e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
> > http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
> > **************************************************
**************************************************
Donald Mencer
Dept. of Chemistry
Penn State University
Hazleton, PA 18201
Phone (717) 450-3095
FAX (717) 450-3182
e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
**************************************************
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 10:33:34 -0400
From: "Mike Epstein"
Subject: RE: RL Re: DM Re: RL Re: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support

Thanks ... I also tried this program and it works well. There is only one
frustration. If your site uses frames, it does not appear to identify the
exact HTML file from which the broken link/image/etc is called. Rather, it
gives you the name of the frameset. Minor inconvenience.

========================================
Michael Epstein
Research Chemist, Analytical Chemistry Division
National Institute of Standards and Technology
michael.epstein@nist.gov
http://www.cstl.nist.gov/nist839/839.01/epstein.html
301-975-4136
and
Adjunct Professor, Dept of Science, Mount Saint Mary's College
301-447-5376
http://www.spectrometer.org/
"Dream as if you were to live forever ... and live as if you were to die tomorrow"
============================================================================

>Brian
>
>you may want to look at
>http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html
>
>I tried the demo of WebMapper some time ago and it worked fine but never
>bought it. The link above is to a free program which claims to do just a
>good a job. I have not yet tried it myself but am downloading it tonight
>to give it a try.
>
>Robert
>
>ps
>on the bottom of each page as well as adding copyrights I have been adding
>a note to say when I tested the links last. This can be very time
>consuming with hundreds of pages to work through.

Brian,

I have been checking links myself . . . but as my site grew larger I did
not keep up as well as I should. I had also examined a couple of programs
but did not buy them.

I downloaded and tried the program suggested above and it worked well. I
think the program is worth checking out. I especially liked the report it
prepared (it included a site map). Note that the program may report errors
for https:// sites, but this can be avoided (see the download site for
details).

Don Mencer

**************************************************
Donald Mencer
Dept. of Chemistry
Penn State University
Hazleton, PA 18201
Phone (717) 450-3095
FAX (717) 450-3182
e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
**************************************************
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 09:43:43 -0500
From: "Trammell, Gary"
Subject: RE: RL Re: DM Re: RL Re: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support

Our Office of Technology Enhanced Learning recommends:

http://www2.imagiware.com/RxHTML/
http://www.netmechanic.com/cobrands/zdnet/linkcheck/

as pretty good free programs to find broken links.

Gary

Dr. Gary Trammell
Chemistry Program
HSB 313
P. O. Box 19243
University of Illinois at Springfield
Springfield, IL 62794-9243
217-206-7344 (voice)
217-206-6162 (fax)
trammell.gary@uis.edu

- -----Original Message-----
From: Mike Epstein [mailto:michael.epstein@nist.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, May 16, 2000 9:34 AM
To: confchem@clarkson.edu
Subject: RE: RL Re: DM Re: RL Re: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support

Thanks ... I also tried this program and it works well. There is only one
frustration. If your site uses frames, it does not appear to identify the
exact HTML file from which the broken link/image/etc is called. Rather, it
gives you the name of the frameset. Minor inconvenience.

========================================
Michael Epstein
Research Chemist, Analytical Chemistry Division
National Institute of Standards and Technology
michael.epstein@nist.gov
http://www.cstl.nist.gov/nist839/839.01/epstein.html
301-975-4136
and
Adjunct Professor, Dept of Science, Mount Saint Mary's College
301-447-5376
http://www.spectrometer.org/
"Dream as if you were to live forever ... and live as if you were to die tomorrow"
============================================================================

>Brian
>
>you may want to look at http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html
>
>I tried the demo of WebMapper some time ago and it worked fine but never
>bought it. The link above is to a free program which claims to do just a
>good a job. I have not yet tried it myself but am downloading it tonight
>to give it a try.
>
>Robert
>
>ps
>on the bottom of each page as well as adding copyrights I have been adding
>a note to say when I tested the links last. This can be very time
>consuming with hundreds of pages to work through.

Brian,

I have been checking links myself . . . but as my site grew larger I did
not keep up as well as I should. I had also examined a couple of programs
but did not buy them.

I downloaded and tried the program suggested above and it worked well. I
think the program is worth checking out. I especially liked the report it
prepared (it included a site map). Note that the program may report errors
for https:// sites, but this can be avoided (see the download site for
details).

Don Mencer

**************************************************
Donald Mencer
Dept. of Chemistry
Penn State University
Hazleton, PA 18201
Phone (717) 450-3095
FAX (717) 450-3182
e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
**************************************************
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 10:47:18 -0400
From: "L. Peter Gold"
Subject: Re: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support

At 09:50 AM 05/15/00 -0800, Marten Lettinga wrote:
>How do you handle students with computer phobias?

A good question. I constantly read that today's students entering college
are all infinitely computer-savvy and we old folks will never catch up.
Yet I (and many of my colleagues in a variety of disciplines) do not see
this. Almost all of them can handle basic e-mail, write and print simple
term papers in a word processor, and go to a web site given the url. But
many of them cannot cope with much more than this -- attachments to e-mail
messages, say, or simple tables in a document -- and computer-based work
with them is sometimes a struggle.

What to do? Penn State provides web-based individual training programs for
several commonly used programs, such as Eudora, Netscape, and Word as well
as a number of advanced tutorials ; these
aree often helpful. I tell my students with such problems that the
simplest, fastest, and best way to learn a specific new computer skill is
to find someone who knows how to do it and sit down in front of a computer
with that person. (Here's a place where active and collaborative learning
really works well.)

By the time the students in my chemistry courses get to be juniors almost
all of them are no longer intimidated by computers and have little trouble
in learning to do what they want to do.
- ------------------------------------------------------
L. Peter Gold phone (814) 865-7694
Professor of Chemistry fax (814) 865-3314
Penn State University
152 Davey Lab E-mail: LPG@PSU.EDU
University Park PA 16802
- ------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 09:59:46 -0500
From: "Alfred J. Lata"
Subject: Quotes!

Friends:

I am enjoying the conference as I sit out here as a lurker, but:

enough ! of the quotes

quoting complete quotes

quoting complete quotes

quoting complete quotes !!

I have read the original statements; a simple reminder (quote of one or two
lines with author identified) is adequate to jog my decreasing memory - I
(we?) really don't need the whole series of quotes [to four levels?] of
complete postings (with addresses!). Please edit the quotes.

Please save bandwidth and disk space.

I am pleased that all contributors are including names and addresses, and
do identify that which is being commented on.

I commend the authors and commentors - you all have made it most interesting.

Forgive my tirade.

Alfred J. Lata, Dept of Chemistry, Univ of Kansas, Lawrence KS 66045

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 00 11:19:24 EDT
From: Donald Rosenthal
Subject: KH: Re: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support - Forwarded Message

Forwarded Message
- ----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 11:07:49 -0400 (EDT)
From:

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 10:06:08 -0500
To: confchem@clarkson.edu
From: Kenn Harding
Subject: Re: DM Re: RL Re: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support

At 06:20 PM 5/15/00 -0400, you wrote:
>
>> I would also add that links to other sites need to be verified periodically
>> (I have just found some "dead links" on my pages that need to be removed).
>>
>> Don Mencer
>Don,
>A little off topic, do you or anyone else know of software that will
>check external links? It is important to keep the links 'hot' but I'd
>much rather have my computer do the checking!
>
>Thanks,
>Brian

Some link-checkers are reviewed at:

http://www.botspot.com/search/s-webdev.htm

CheckWeb (freeware for Windows 95/NT)
CyberSpyder LinkTest (shareware, $35)
LinkBot (15-day free evaluation; $495)
Linklint (Perl shareware program; $10)
LinkScan (free evaluation copy; $300)
Xenu's Link Sleuth (freeware)
Incontext WebAnalyzer 2 (http://www.incontext.com/WAinfo.html, free
limited-time evaluation, $420 Canadian)

I used the evaluation copy of LinkBot some time ago and liked it (but not
$500 worth). Has anyone used any of these freeware or shareware programs?

Kenn E. Harding, Ph.D.
Professor of Chemistry and Coordinator of Organic Laboratory Courses
Department of Chemistry
P.O. Box 30012
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77842-3012
979-845-5433
http://www.chem.tamu.edu/organic/orgmain.html

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 00 11:45:25 EDT
From: Donald Rosenthal
Subject: SLM: Re: C-A1-A2-A3: Calculator Use

Forwarded - Sent from Non-Subscribed Address
- ----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 01:22:44 -0400
From: "Stephen L. Morgan"
Organization: Dept. of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Univ. of South Carolina,
Columbia, SC
29208 | (803) 777-2461| http://www.chem.sc.edu/faculty/morgan
To: confchem@clarkson.edu
Subject: Re: C_A1-A2-A3: Calculator use

Actually, the Hewlett-Packard 48 and the new Hewlett-Packard 49G
calculators have a "units management system" that allows the user to
attach units to any number and carry those units through calculations. I
have done a little playing with the system and find that you still have
to use your head to get right answers. If the problem is worked
correctly with the correct units attached to every number, then the
units generally come out correctly. Sometimes however, conversion to a
derived unit is required for the answer to make sense.

> And calculator do NOT give "units"...
>
> Denis Bussieres
- --
Dr. Stephen L. Morgan, Professor
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208
Phone (803) 777-2461; FAX: (803) 777-6104
Home page: http://www.chem.sc.edu/faculty/morgan
E-mail: morgan@mail.chem.sc.edu

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 12:46:30 -0400
From: Richard Pendarvis
Subject: ROP Re: C- A-2-JR DL online & campus classes

Walt Volland wrote:
>
> Hello everyone,
>
> I have had the luxury (?) of teaching sections of the same class both
> online and on campus simultaneously. The 20-30 DL (online) students were
> scattered across 90,000 square miles of Washington State, so we never
> saw one another face to face.
>
> The situation was eye opening. Both classes had
> access to the online materials which include some animations. The on
> campus group performed much better than a typical on campus class. The
> on campus
> and online students performed about the same.
>
> The attrition rates and gpa were similar for both classes.
>
> Short question for JR How many students have participated in the various
> classes where the animations have been used?
>
> Walt Volland
> Department of Chemistry
> Bellevue Community College
> Bellevue, Washington 98007
> 425-747-4455
>
> Jimmy Reeves wrote:
>
> > Have you been able to judge which is more effective-- when you use
> > simulations and interactive exercises with
> > your lecture students, or with your distance learning students?
> >
> > Why?
> >
> > Are there any drawbacks to the online use?
> >
> > Brian,
> > I haven't really used these exercises with the lecture students except in
> > rare circumstances, but I anticipate that using interactive exercises with
> > students with whom I meet on a regular basis will be more effective,...
> >
> > Jimmy
I also have taught online and traditional classes simultaneously (Gen. Chem. 1).
Both did traditional labs (together in fact). The traditional students did NOT
have access to the multimedia materials and online quizes etc. Both did some of
the same graded assignments. The classes did not use the same textbooks and the
curriculum was somewhat different as a result. The online class was 7 students
and the traditional class was about 50.

The bottom line was that the traditional class outperformed the online class by
a large margin within my judgement. Since we used different texts, the tests
were not the same but I tried to make them of similar difficulty. The grade
distributions were drastically different. The online class was much lower than
the tradional class.

Yes, it is a small sample. However I communicated with faculty at a couple of
other Florida colleges which did the same and they report similar results.

IMHO, the type of student we have appears to get something from the lectures
that makes a difference. I am not sure what that is. Perhaps this is just a
matter of motivation and peer pressure?

/* Richard */

#include
/* - - ____
| | _ | | Organic Chemistry
/ \ |_| | | || CAI Programming
/ \ | | / \ || Pizza
/ \ / \ | | _||_ Star Trek
(_________) (_____) |______| _/____\_ Doberman Pinschers
Richard Pendarvis, Ph.D. 3001 W. College Road |
Associate Professor of Chemistry Ocala, FL 32608 |
Central Florida Community College
Organic Class Page http://www.tfn.net/~pendarr */
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 14:13:35 -0400
From: Don Mencer
Subject: Re: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support

>At 09:50 AM 05/15/00 -0800, Marten Lettinga wrote:
> >How do you handle students with computer phobias?

> At 10:47 AM 5/16/00 -0400, Peter Gold wrote:
>(snip)
>Penn State provides web-based individual training programs for
>several commonly used programs, such as Eudora, Netscape, and Word as well
>as a number of advanced tutorials ; these
>aree often helpful. I tell my students with such problems that the
>simplest, fastest, and best way to learn a specific new computer skill is
>to find someone who knows how to do it and sit down in front of a computer
>with that person. (Here's a place where active and collaborative learning
>really works well.)
>(snip)

My apologies for neglecting to address this portion of the original
posting. I would add that it is important to provide time at the start of
the semester for students to discover that they might have some
difficulties in using technology (many think they do not) and to learn what
kind of help they might need. For example, I never collect the first group
assignments based on the on-line simulations. However, I do ask if
students are having problems and try to make sure that they get addressed
early on in the course.

I do not view computer phobias as a good reason to avoid using
technology. Some students are intimidated by using a university library,
but I am certain that English and History professors still make assignments
that require library use. I think the key issue is to provide some sort of
assistance to those who may have difficulty (librarians in libraries, help
desks in computer labs, etc).

Don Mencer

**************************************************
Donald Mencer
Dept. of Chemistry
Penn State University
Hazleton, PA 18201
Phone (717) 450-3095
FAX (717) 450-3182
e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
**************************************************
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 11:28:46 +0000
From: Walt Volland
Subject: WV Re: C- A-2-JR DL online & campus classes

Hell Brian,
The gpa for the on campus class with access to the website was about 0.2 of a grade
point higher than an on campus class without the website access . This is on a basis
of 4.0 for an "A"

I actually have data for two quarters of parallel courses. The first time through I
didn't require the on campus class to do any work with the website. The class was
really hit and miss about accessing the material ( catch the terrible pun) They
apparently felt the lectures were enough and didn't bother to access the site without
specific assignments. This group performed like a typical class.

The winter quarter on campus class of 18 people had a gpa of 3.1 / 4.0

The retention and survival rate for the online class is excellent. I say this with a
caveat.
We have two key roster check dates for our classes. There is the 10th day enrollment in
Washington and the initial or first day registrations. When we look at the initial
registrations the class seems awful (50%), but when the 10th day enrollments are checked
versus completion the numbers are at 85%. It looks like the people who sign up for the
class sort themselves out by the 10th day. This is very much like the on campus
retention rate.

The gpa for the online class of 22 people is 3.2 / 4.0

The animations are a great help at solving misconceptions. The quality of answers does
improve. the funny thing is the tuft for misunderstanding shifts to new topics. It
seems like is is an never ending issue. For example the chromatography question is
tied to a "green" kitchen counter home experiment. The determination of Rf values is
done correctly by 90% of the class. There is a problem in deciding where to locate the
"spots" for the solutes.

Likewise I have an emission spectra experiment simulation where the identification of
elements is done. There are questions about wavelength. Almost everyone does fine with
the wavelengths, but some folks still insist on taking differences between line
positions. This means instead of the 590 nm for the yellow lines in sodium they report
a value of about 10 nm. This is URL for the emission spectrum lab simulation.

http://www.scidiv.bcc.ctc.edu/wv/spect/emission-flame-exp.html

Walt :-)

a Brian1 wrote:

> Walt,
> How did the attrition rates and gpa of your classes that had access to
> online material compare to those that did not have access? Can you
> show us the numbers for all three groups?
>
> I took a look at your animated online quiz, very clever. Do you
> notice any difference in the correctness and quality of answers you
> get by adding the animation?
>
> Brian
>
> Walt Volland wrote:
> >
> > Hello everyone,
> >
> > I have had the luxury (?) of teaching sections of the same class both
> > online and on campus simultaneously. The 20-30 DL (online) students were
> > scattered across 90,000 square miles of Washington State, so we never
> > saw one another face to face.
> >
> > The situation was eye opening. Both classes had
> > access to the online materials which include some animations. The on
> > campus group performed much better than a typical on campus class. The
> > on campus
> > and online students performed about the same.
> >
> > The attrition rates and gpa were similar for both classes.
> >
> > Short question for JR How many students have participated in the various
> > classes where the animations have been used?
> >
> > Walt Volland
> > Department of Chemistry
> > Bellevue Community College
> > Bellevue, Washington 98007
> > 425-747-4455
> >
> > Jimmy Reeves wrote:
> >
> > > Have you been able to judge which is more effective-- when you use
> > > simulations and interactive exercises with
> > > your lecture students, or with your distance learning students?
> > >
> > > Why?
> > >
> > > Are there any drawbacks to the online use?
> > >
> > > Brian,
> > > I haven't really used these exercises with the lecture students except in
> > > rare circumstances, but I anticipate that using interactive exercises with
> > > students with whom I meet on a regular basis will be more effective,...
> >
> > >
> > > Jimmy

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 14:35:20 -0400 (EDT)
From: Peter Chieh
Subject: C_A1,12,13 - DM-WV-Quiz

Hi Everyone,

Don Mencer's Comment invites some comment on quizzes.

>I also liked Walt Volland's on-line quiz
>(http://www.scidiv.bcc.ctc.edu/wv/7/spq6/spq6.html) with animations. I
>am not sure how I could use such a quiz in a supervised setting (due to
>the logistics . . . too many students for any of computer labs) and I
>would not want to give quizzes on-line that would be done outside of
>class time (for example in dorm rooms). Any thoughts on how we can do
>on-line testing and be satisfied that the work submitted is actually done
>by the student who will receive the grade?

Our regular in-class (lectureed) students have been writing Quizzes over
the Internet for more than two years. Anything presentable on the Internet
can be used on these quizzes. I have used some figures, but have not used
animations. I have also visited Walt Volland's site above, and find the
questions excellent. I will try to use animations in the future.

In our case, the quiz marks is worth only 10% of the total grade. Each
student write 9 quizzes for a 13-week term, and we use 8 best marks to
derive an average quiz mark. Since the weight for the quiz mark is low, we
do not care much about several students doing them together. These are
not supervised quizzes. We keep track of some of the things students do,
and the records show many students doing the quizzes after midnight. If a
student get a very low mark, we allow them to write the quiz again. Of
course, a new set of question will be chosen from the pool.

In each quiz, I give 5 to 10 questions, each from a set of similar
questions. Thus, I can cover 5 to 10 different concepts in a quiz.
When students re-write a quiz, they will learn the more same thing
again, hopefully better.

While I revize the questions during the past few weeks, I thaught the
purpose of the quiz is to help students learn. Why not make writing the
quizzes a learning process. Thus, I added some background information and
point out the skills students are suppose to acquire from doing a
problem. As a result, students will have to read more, and spend more time
for each quiz.

Unfortunately, only registered students will be able to write these
quizzes, because of mark processing. Thus, I cannot offer the trial
to the CONFCHEM audience at this time. The thaught and strategy might be
of interest to you.

Chung Chieh
Professor,
Chemistry Department, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
TEL:(519)888-4567-ext-5816
Cyber Office: http://www.science.uwaterloo.ca/~cchieh/cact/cact.html

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 14:46:16 -0400 (EDT)
From: Peter Chieh
Subject: C WV Spect. diagram

Hi Walt,

I took your suggestion and visited your excellent site
http://www.scidiv.bcc.ctc.edu/wv/spect/emission-flame-exp.html

Would you let us know the software you have used to make up the diagrams
on this and your other pages?

Thanks

Chung Chieh
Professor,
Chemistry Department, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
TEL:(519)888-4567-ext-5816
Cyber Office: http://www.science.uwaterloo.ca/~cchieh/cact/cact.html

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 16:07:08 -0400
From: Jimmy Reeves
Subject: RE: ROP Re: C- A-2-JR DL online & campus classes

Richard, Walt et al,
>
> Short question for JR How many students have participated in the various
> classes where the animations have been used?

Animations were used in both the distance learning and lecture versions of
the course, although lecture students did not have access to them outside of
class (unless they purchased the CD-ROM and viewed them there). The on-line
student also did the simulations, which were not required of the traditional
students. In total I taught about 31 distance learning students over three
semesters, and 286 lecture based students over the same period.

> > Jimmy
I also have taught online and traditional classes simultaneously (Gen. Chem. 1).
Both did traditional labs (together in fact). The traditional students did NOT
have access to the multimedia materials and online quizes etc. Both did some of
the same graded assignments. The classes did not use the same textbooks and the
curriculum was somewhat different as a result. The online class was 7 students
and the traditional class was about 50.

The bottom line was that the traditional class outperformed the online class by
a large margin within my judgement. Since we used different texts, the tests
were not the same but I tried to make them of similar difficulty. The grade
distributions were drastically different. The online class was much lower than
the tradional class.

Yes, it is a small sample. However I communicated with faculty at a couple of
other Florida colleges which did the same and they report similar results.

IMHO, the type of student we have appears to get something from the lectures
that makes a difference. I am not sure what that is. Perhaps this is just a
matter of motivation and peer pressure?

In my case, the on-line students performed as well or slightly better than
their lecture counterparts. The distribution of grades for the two types of
students (http://aa.uncwil.edu/reeves/confchem_2000/distribution.htm ) show
only slight differences. Though students in the distance learning classes
had different quizzes and graded weekly assignments, they took the same
hourly exams and the same final exam. Despite this apparent success, I was
not satisfied with their level of participation, and felt they failed to
take advantage of many of the learning opportunities I provided. Of course,
I spent much more time and effort preparing materials for and working with
these student, so my expectations of them may have been somewhat inflated.
On any given Friday morning at 8 AM, upwards of 40% of my traditional
lecture-bound students would opt not to come to lecture, so in effect they
too were distance ed students. I also had a few (two or three) "distance"
students who attended lectures from time to time; they reported that lecture
helped them understand what was important for them to know. My conclusion
is that while both venues can provide students with the tools necessary to
learn chemistry, a combined model, involving fewer weekly meetings
(lectures) and extensive on-line assignments may be the best option for the
motivated student, and we are currently studying ways to implement this
model at UNCW.

Jimmy

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 16:40:00 -0400
From: Don Mencer
Subject: Re: C_A1,12,13 - DM-WV-Quiz

more on on-line vs. off-line quizzes

At 02:35 PM 5/16/00 -0400, Peter Chieh wrote:
>Hi Everyone,
>
>(snip)
>While I revize the questions during the past few weeks, I thaught the
>purpose of the quiz is to help students learn. Why not make writing the
>quizzes a learning process. Thus, I added some background information and
>point out the skills students are suppose to acquire from doing a
>problem. As a result, students will have to read more, and spend more time
>for each quiz.

This is not a bad idea . . . in essence the quiz is an on-line learning
tool that counts toward the grade (similar to homework). Even though it
counts for only a small portion of the grade, some students could take
unfair advantage (by having someone else do the work for them).

Does anyone have thoughts on how a automated on-line exam/quiz system can
be used to fairly assess (avoiding cheating) student learning? Am I
"stuck" with using any on-line versions (which could include nice
animations or simulations) as practice exams?

Has anyone tried projecting animations in a classroom as part of a quiz or exam?

Don Mencer

**************************************************
Donald Mencer
Dept. of Chemistry
Penn State University
Hazleton, PA 18201
Phone (717) 450-3095
FAX (717) 450-3182
e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
**************************************************
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 16:43:40 -0400
From: Don Mencer
Subject: Re: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support

The following is posted on behalf of Mike Berg:

I have seen at times that the medium becomes more important than the
message. For example, we use Excel in some of our labs and the students
spend a significant amount of time learning to use it. Sometimes I fear
that the exercise of using Excel gets in the way of the data they collect.
Second example, our research students have to give a presentation at the
end of the semester and they all want to do PowerPoint presentations. Often
times, they will stop doing research weeks before the presentation and
begin learning how to use PowerPoint. The results are a presentation of not
much research, but lots of bells and whistles that PowerPoint has. I even
see my colleagues arguing that we have to teach the students to how to use
these and we should require them to use them. What is appropriate for
undergrads to know how to use? (I learned PowerPoint in grad school on my
own time)

Dr. Michael Berg
Bloomsburg University
Bloomsburg, PA 17815
mberg@planetx.bloomu.edu

**************************************************
Donald Mencer
Dept. of Chemistry
Penn State University
Hazleton, PA 18201
Phone (717) 450-3095
FAX (717) 450-3182
e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
**************************************************
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 16:21:01 -0400 (EDT)
From: Dr Robert Lancashire
Subject: Re: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support

> The following was posted on behalf of Mike Berg
> I have seen at times that the medium becomes more important than the
> message.
> ... learning how to use PowerPoint. The results are a presentation of
not much research, but lots of bells and whistles that PowerPoint has.

From my perspective...
For our grad student presentations, we have avoided using PowerPoint
because of the time involved and steep learning curve.
They were told to put the content together in WORD and set it up a page at
a time. They then move to full screen mode and hit the page up/down keys.

The alternative is to convert to HTML and use Netscape off-line which then
allows adding CHIME embed calls etc. A little more time consuming but not
too bad and allows spectra and molecular graphics.

We try to impress on them that content is the important thing. The glitter
is soon forgotten and for neophytes playing with PowerPoint you can end up
with pages whizzing in from every direction, different fonts and colours
and so many bells and whistles that it becomes irritating. They just had
to try everything, but on one page?

Robert
______________________________________________________________________
Dr. Robert J. Lancashire E-mail mailto:rjlanc@uwimona.edu.jm
SubDean, Technology Management and Development
Department of Chemistry Tel (876) 9271910
University of the West Indies, Kingston 7 Fax (876) 9771835
Mona Campus, JAMAICA. http://wwwchem.uwimona.edu.jm:1104/chrl.html

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 18:49:06 -0400
From: Brian1
Subject: Re: C_A1,12,13 - DM-WV-Quiz

> Has anyone tried projecting animations in a classroom as part of a quiz or
> exam?
>
> Don Mencer

Yes, see about halfway through my paper for a more complete discussion.
http://www.ched-ccce.org/confchem/2000/b/pankuch/uses.htm

How effective is it?

To check how effective this was, for the next test I didn't tell the
students specifically that the animations would be covered on the
test. During the test I setup the animation and asked them, for extra
credit, to write out a description of the main points of the
animation. The results as you might expect were quite good. Errors
were generally incompleteness, not mistakes in interpretation. The
next semester a similar procedure was followed, except I didn't setup
the animation during the test. Surprisingly the students did as well.
Leaving out the step of discussing the student descriptions of the
main points of the animation, resulted in somewhat less complete
answers. The overall results were still quite good.

Brian

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 01:26:32 +0000
From: Walt Volland
Subject: WV-Re: C WV Spect. dia- software

Hello Peter, Thanks for the nice comments. The spectrum site took a lot
of time. You are seeing the 5th or 6th version of the spectrum
simulation. I've had a good number of thoughtful suggestions from students
for improvements so it is still a work in progress. There are some high
school teachers who have their students using the "lab" as an enrichment
activity.

The software I use includes

Adobe Photoshop 5.5
Macromedia's Fireworks 3,
Macromedia's Dreamweaver 3,
Homepage (by Filemaker),
Bryce 3D (Metacreations now Corel),
Chem3D , Cambridge Scientific
Poser 4 (Metacreations now Corel)
Painter 5.5 (Metacreations now Corel)
Graphic Converter (a shareware program)

These are the mainstay programs Each one offers a different "benefit."

The way to minimize costs is to buy though a software vendor like software
showcase who provide educational discounts .
http://www.softwareshowcase.com

Some of the companies like Wavefunction and Cambridge have good educational
discount offers.

Best regards,

Walt Volland

Peter Chieh wrote:

> Hi Walt,
>
> I took your suggestion and visited your excellent site
> http://www.scidiv.bcc.ctc.edu/wv/spect/emission-flame-exp.html
>
> Would you let us know the software you have used to make up the diagrams
> on this and your other pages?
>
> Thanks
>
> Chung Chieh

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 01:36:43 +0000
From: Walt Volland
Subject: WV Re: Dm RE:WV Re: C_A1-A2-A3: Calculator use

Hello Don,
Maybe a computer projection unit can solve the problem for large groups.

We have a very nice set up at Bellevue CC. We have an "In
Focus"projection unit
and a dedicated CPU in each of our lecture rooms which double as "quiz"
classrooms. We can project webpages, CDs, software, etc. for the
entire class to
view. We also can move the class to a large computer facility wiwhere
each person can work at their "own" CPU.

Although the hardware situation is spotty in the Puget Sound area,
there are a number of colleges out here with similar hardware for
classroom use.

Best regards , Walt Volland

Don Mencer wrote:

> However, my class size is
> small enough that I can grade open ended questions (providing the
> opportunity to see where students are running into problems). Any
> suggestions for instructors with class sizes of 200, 250, or even 400

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 02:02:35 +0000
From: Walt Volland
Subject: WV-Re: C_A1,12,13 - DM-WV-Quiz

Hello Don,
I've used the projection system when I was giving a quiz on molecular shapes
in my General Chemistry class. The rotating projected images were a lot
better than any flat drawings.

I feel the animations can be useful in questions about 3D figures, about
processes or about observations.

Students said they liked the projected images and appreciated the extra effort
I went through. The results on the question were about the same as without
the projected animation.

Walt Volland

Don Mencer wrote:

> more on on-line vs. off-line quizzes
>
> At 02:35 PM 5/16/00 -0400, Peter Chieh wrote:
> >Hi Everyone,
> >
> >(snip)
> >While I revize the questions during the past few weeks, I thaught the
> >purpose of the quiz is to help students learn. Why not make writing the
>
> This is not a bad idea . . . in essence the quiz is an on-line learning
> SNIP SNIP
>
> Has anyone tried projecting animations in a classroom as part of a quiz or
> exam?
>
> Don Mencer

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 02:04:16 +0000
From: Walt Volland
Subject: WV-Re: ROP Re: C- A-2-JR DL online & campus classes

Hello Jimmy,

It is interesting to see the numbers for the distance learning students.

Out here in Washington we have a statewide constortium of 20 colleges.
Students can earn a two year degree completely on-line. This provides a large
student pool. Students from the 20 different colleges can enroll in the
on-line introductory chemistry class. The course includes lectures and home
labs.

Since the beginning of the class we have enrolled over 300 students. The
class size is "limited" to 26 and the classes typically fill every quarter.
There are three of us teaching these on-line classes now. The numbers are
still small compared to the on campus classes around Washington. BCC alone
enrolls more than 300 students in the parallel on campus class every year.

Hardware and computer access are very inconsistent out here in Washington.
There are haves and have nots. Fortunately for me BCC is a "have" . At BCC we
have a huge computer facility with about 200 CPUs It is open from 7:30AM till
10:PM M-F with shorter hours on Saturday and Sunday. This is in addition to a
small computer cluster in the chemistry labs where we have 6 CPUs for student
use. Other colleges are not so well equipped.

Best regards, Walt

Jimmy Reeves wrote:

> Richard, Walt et al,
> >
> > Short question for JR How many students have participated in the various
> > classes where the animations have been used?
>
> Animations were used in both the distance learning and lecture versions of
> the course, although lecture students did not have access to them outside of
> class (unless they purchased the CD-ROM and viewed them there). The on-line
> student also did the simulations, which were not required of the traditional
> students. In total I taught about 31 distance learning students over three
> semesters, and 286 lecture based students over the same period.
>
> Jimmy

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 09:35:49 -0400
From: Don Mencer
Subject: Re: C_A1,12,13 - DM-WV-Quiz

At 06:49 PM 5/16/00 -0400, Brian Pankuch wrote:

> > Has anyone tried projecting animations in a classroom as part of a quiz or
> > exam?
> >
> > Don Mencer
>
>Yes, see about halfway through my paper for a more complete discussion.
>http://www.ched-ccce.org/confchem/2000/b/pankuch/uses.htm
>
>How effective is it?
(snip)
> The results as you might expect were quite good. Errors
>were generally incompleteness, not mistakes in interpretation. The
>next semester a similar procedure was followed, except I didn't setup
>the animation during the test. Surprisingly the students did as well.
> Leaving out the step of discussing the student descriptions of the
>main points of the animation, resulted in somewhat less complete
>answers. The overall results were still quite good.
>
>Brian

The positive results of your experience has convinced me to try using
projected animations for quiz or testing purposes this fall. I am
convinced that animations are a great way to help students visualize
atomic/molecular level behavior.

Don Mencer

**************************************************
Donald Mencer
Dept. of Chemistry
Penn State University
Hazleton, PA 18201
Phone (717) 450-3095
FAX (717) 450-3182
e-mail dxm53@psu.edu
http://www.hn.psu.edu/Faculty/DMencer/
**************************************************
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 10:28:41 -0500
From: Peter Lykos
Subject: Re: C-A1 ML: Tech Phobias/Support

I realize this is a computers in chemistry focussed group but ....

In UG Physical Chemistry I have students not only work out and turn in
solutions to non-trivial PChem problems but also have them prepare their own
made overhead transparencies made with felt pens with intelligent use of
color to use when presenting their solution for one of the assigned problems
to the class - a stressful but real-life situation.

They need to pick up on the truth that what they turn in for grading is much
more detailed (with all steps and arithmetic) than the statement of principle
being applied and logic flow to support their oral presentation. I believe the
same effectiveness would prevail were those sketches to be scanned in for
sharing via e-mail. Of course animation is not feasible in that mode but
then... even computer generated graphics or figures/tables from references can
be copied (properly adjusted in size) and shared in that manner with notes
added again with felt pen and in color.

I noticed the exuberant usage of Power Point on the part of some - even unto
using sound bites (like applause!) - but do not encourage that. On the other
hand, the Power Point system does tutor the user in organizational issues on
preparing for an oral presentation - so doing that once is probably worth the
time and effort.

Imho I try to not throw out the baby with the bath water.

Peter Lykos

Dr Robert Lancashire wrote:

> > The following was posted on behalf of Mike Berg
> > I have seen at times that the medium becomes more important than the
> > message.
> > ... learning how to use PowerPoint. The results are a presentation of
> not much research, but lots of bells and whistles that PowerPoint has.
>
> >From my perspective...
> For our grad student presentations, we have avoided using PowerPoint
> because of the time involved and steep learning curve.
> They were told to put the content together in WORD and set it up a page at
> a time. They then move to full screen mode and hit the page up/down keys.
>
> The alternative is to convert to HTML and use Netscape off-line which then
> allows adding CHIME embed calls etc. A little more time consuming but not
> too bad and allows spectra and molecular graphics.
>
> We try to impress on them that content is the important thing. The glitter
> is soon forgotten and for neophytes playing with PowerPoint you can end up
> with pages whizzing in from every direction, different fonts and colours
> and so many bells and whistles that it becomes irritating. They just had
> to try everything, but on one page?
>
> Robert
> ______________________________________________________________________
> Dr. Robert J. Lancashire E-mail mailto:rjlanc@uwimona.edu.jm
> SubDean, Technology Management and Development
> Department of Chemistry Tel (876) 9271910
> University of the West Indies, Kingston 7 Fax (876) 9771835
> Mona Campus, JAMAICA. http://wwwchem.uwimona.edu.jm:1104/chrl.html

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 11:30:58 -0400
From: Denis Bussieres
Subject: Re: WV- C- A-2-JR DL online & campus classes

At 02:04 17-05-2000 +0000, W. Volland wrote:
>Hello Jimmy,
>
>It is interesting to see the numbers for the distance learning students.
>
>Out here in Washington we have a statewide constortium of 20 colleges.
>Students can earn a two year degree completely on-line. This provides a
large
>student pool. Students from the 20 different colleges can enroll in the
>on-line introductory chemistry class. The course includes lectures and home
>labs.

You refer to common curriculum given statewide by 20 colleges and courses
available on-line.

1- How did you get there ?

2- Isn't there competition between these colleges to get more and more
students which mean more and more funds ($$) ?

We are not thinking about it yet here, so in practice we are still quit far
from there.

3- Do you get students on-line from outside your state ?

If I dream out loud, this would be a great way to "rationalize" or optimise
ressources in our province...

Denis Bussieres

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 10:19:25 +0000
From: Walt Volland
Subject: WV-Re: WV-C-A-2-JR DL online & campus

Denis Bussieres wrote:

> You refer to common curriculum given statewide by 20 colleges and courses
> available on-line.
>
> 1- How did you get there ?

We got where we are because the legislature made technology a funding priority.
The entire system of colleges was provided with internet access about 4-5 years
ago. Once all the colleges were on-line, the college Presidents in the state
met and agreed to form WAOL. This is Washington Online. The presidents each
committed money from their college budgets to get the system started. This
college funding model is still in place.

The WAOL organizing committee assembled a set of 20 courses for the two tyear
degree. This is still the core to the project.

The on-line courses are not the exact duplicates of all the courses at all the
colleges, BUT every college did review the classes in their individual campus
curriculum committee. The classes had to be approved by the individual colleges
to be offered in their class schedule. This involved a lot of interaction
questions answers , on-line class visitations , etc.

> 2- Isn't there competition between these colleges to get more and more
> students which mean more and more funds ($$) ?

The funding isn't an issue right now . The separate colleges get $ for a
student who registers from their zip code . The individual colleges still
collect the revenue. They are happy about that. The real blessing is that
students at out of the way locations can get a class that would never have been
financially viable in the old structure . there is no harm to a college if the
class is not operating on their campus.

> We are not thinking about it yet here, so in practice we are still quit far
> from there.
>
> 3- Do you get students on-line from outside your state ?

I've had inquiries but I haven't seen out of state address of area codes in the
class rosters. It is cpossible for an out of state student to take any WAOL
class. It is simply a matter of contacting the WAOL office or one of the
connsortium colleges. It may be more complicated than that in reality but with
planning a student should be able to make the system work.

I hope this answers your questions.

Best regards, Walt

> If I dream out loud, this would be a great way to "rationalize" or optimise
> ressources in our province...
>
> Denis Bussieres

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 17 May 00 14:59:51 EDT
From: Donald Rosenthal
Subject: Re: C-A1-A2-A3 Significant Figures

FORWARDED MESSAGE

- ----------------------------Original message----------------------------
From: "Wayne Huang"
To:
Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 01:51:35 GMT
Subject: Re: C-A1-A2-A3: Calculator use & sf

Significant figure (SF) is a very important concept in chemical calculations.
Using a set of rules, we have developed a program that takes SF into
calculations.
In the SF module, you can enter any number and specify the # of SF, it will
output the result with proper SF as specified. It also carries out algebraic
operation with significant numbers, one step toward developing a chemical
calculator
with SF considered.
Here is the link: http://www.molecularsoft.com/onlinestudy (need IE4 to use
the free web-based modules).

Wayne Huang, PhD
MolecularSoft
wayne@molecularsoft.com
"SoftChemistry - The Homework Wizards"

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 14:01:39 -0700
From: "Stephen Hawkes"
Subject: Significant Figures Algorithm

Re Wayne Huang's program for the computation of significant figures. I
entered 1.03 x 0.99 and the program computed the answer as 1.0 ! This
is one significant figure too few Stephen Hawkes

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 18:04:55 -0400 (EDT)
From: Dr Robert Lancashire
Subject: Re: Significant Figures Algorithm

On Wed, 17 May 2000, Stephen Hawkes wrote:

> Re Wayne Huang's program for the computation of significant figures.
I entered 1.03 x 0.99 and the program computed the answer as 1.0 !
This is one significant figure too few Stephen Hawkes

On what basis?
If you work with relative uncertainty as described in Appendix C
of Analytical Chemistry by Larry Hargis then for a result between 0.2 and
2 times the relative uncertainty

1.0197 is too accurate
1.02 is too accurate

and you are left with
1.0

so by my quick calculation it seems to be right

Robert
______________________________________________________________________
Dr. Robert J. Lancashire E-mail mailto:rjlanc@uwimona.edu.jm
SubDean, Technology Management and Development
Department of Chemistry Tel (876) 9271910
University of the West Indies, Kingston 7 Fax (876) 9771835
Mona Campus, JAMAICA. http://wwwchem.uwimona.edu.jm:1104/chrl.html

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 19:28:31 +0000
From: Walt Volland
Subject: Re: Significant Figures Algorithm

Hello Stephen,

The values seem to be 1.03 with 3 sf and 0.99 with 2 sf . It looks
like the result should be 1.0197 which should be rounded to 1.0 with 2
sf

Walt Volland

Stephen Hawkes wrote:

> Re Wayne Huang's program for the computation of significant figures.
> I entered 1.03 x 0.99 and the program computed the answer as 1.0 !
> This is one significant figure too few Stephen Hawkes

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 19:35:09 +0000
From: Walt Volland
Subject: Re: Significant Figures Algorithm

Hello Stephen,

The values seem to be 1.03 with 3 sf and 0.99 with 2 sf . It looks
like the result should be 1.0197 which should be rounded to 1.0 with 2
sf

Walt Volland

Stephen Hawkes wrote:

> Re Wayne Huang's program for the computation of significant figures.
> I entered 1.03 x 0.99 and the program computed the answer as 1.0 !
> This is one significant figure too few Stephen Hawkes

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 06:57:41 -0400
From: dbussier
Subject: Last day of discussion

Hello,

Today is the last day of discussion on the three papers A1 to A3.

Tomorrow, Friday, session B will begin. Short questions on papers B2 and
B3 will be accepted all day.

Have a good day,

Denis Bussieres,
Chair of the ConfChem

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 09:05:14 -0400
From: Denis Bussieres
Subject: Re : Significant figures

>Stephen Hawkes wrote :

>Re Wayne Huang's program for the computation of significant figures. I
>entered 1.03 x 0.99 and the program computed the answer as 1.0 ! This is
>one significant figure too few Stephen Hawkes

I agree with SH.

Strictly speaking, the error on 1.03 is +/- 0.01 or 1%
and the error on 0.99 is +/- 0.01 or 1%

Then, by multiplying the two numbers, their relative errors are
approximately added together ---> 1% + 1% = 2%

The answer should _not_ have an error bigger than 2%. If one gives
the asnwer with an error bigger than 2%, then one introduces another kind
of error from its processing (calculation).

Here, 2% means over 1.0197 about 0.02 (absolute).

- -- Therefore, the proper answer _should_ be 1.02 +/- 0.02

When trying to teach "how to use/account" significant figures, this is a
tricky situation. In this same example, 1.03 has "3" sign.figures and
0.99 has "2" sign.figures. Then, the "first" answer as a "rule of thumb"
should be rounded off to "2" sign.figures.

Nevertheless, as 0.99 is _close_ to the unity (1.00), its absolute error of
0.01 _could_ be considered _as if_ it was a "third" sign.figure (compared
to 1.00). This leads to _tolerate_ or to _accept formally_ a third
sign.figure to the answer ---> 1.02 +/- 0.02

Note : This kind of example _always_ bug students because it makes an
exception to the general rules given to them (and exceptions are, most of
the time, unwanted for them).

This is IMHO.

Denis Bussieres,
UQAC

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 06:34:19 -0700 (PDT)
From: paul kelter
Subject: Re: Re : Significant figures

Colleagues:

We see, in the recent discussion, why our own students
are driven to distraction by what can be a surprisingly complex issue.

Two notes:

1. When we take measurements for our own work, we
typically associate a specific uncertainty with
multiple measurements of mass, volume or other
properties, so others are not left to interpret what
the "implied" uncertainty is in our measurements.

2. The federal and international scientific community
recommendations for dealing with uncertainty (and
other issues of measurement) occasionally change, and,
therefore, an excellent resource to look at from
time-to-time is

www.nist.gov

On this specific issue, please check the site:

http://physics.nist.gov/Pubs/guidelines/outline.html

Paul
______
Paul Kelter
Department of Chemistry
University of North Carolina - Greensboro
________

- --- Denis Bussieres wrote:
> >Stephen Hawkes wrote :
>
> >Re Wayne Huang's program for the computation of
> significant figures. I
> >entered 1.03 x 0.99 and the program computed the
> answer as 1.0 ! This is
> >one significant figure too few Stephen Hawkes
>
> I agree with SH.
>
> Strictly speaking, the error on 1.03 is +/- 0.01 or 1%
> and the error on 0.99 is +/- 0.01 or 1%
>
> Then, by multiplying the two numbers, their
> relative errors are
> approximately added together ---> 1% + 1% = 2%
>
> The answer should _not_ have an error bigger
> than 2%. If one gives
> the asnwer with an error bigger than 2%, then one
> introduces another kind
> of error from its processing (calculation).
>
> Here, 2% means over 1.0197 about 0.02 (absolute).
>
> -- Therefore, the proper answer _should_ be 1.02
> +/- 0.02
>
> When trying to teach "how to use/account"
> significant figures, this is a
> tricky situation. In this same example, 1.03 has "3"
> sign.figures and
> 0.99 has "2" sign.figures. Then, the "first"
> answer as a "rule of thumb"
> should be rounded off to "2" sign.figures.
>
> Nevertheless, as 0.99 is _close_ to the unity
> (1.00), its absolute error of
> 0.01 _could_ be considered _as if_ it was a "third"
> sign.figure (compared
> to 1.00). This leads to _tolerate_ or to _accept
> formally_ a third
> sign.figure to the answer ---> 1.02 +/- 0.02
>
> Note : This kind of example _always_ bug students
> because it makes an
> exception to the general rules given to them (and
> exceptions are, most of
> the time, unwanted for them).
>
> This is IMHO.
>
> Denis Bussieres,
> UQAC

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 11:24:29 -0400
From: Denis Bussieres
Subject: Re: on-line and campus class

>W. Volland wrote :
>
>Since the beginning of the class we have enrolled over 300 students. The
>class size is "limited" to 26 and the classes typically fill every quarter.
>There are three of us teaching these on-line classes now. The numbers are
>still small compared to the on campus classes around Washington.

Here, administrators see NTICs as a way to save money! They targeted
courses with small class, typically less than 10 students, to be offered
with other institutions on the net.

- - Why your enrollment is "limited" to 26 ?

- - Is there a real benefit in time allocation, human resources and/or
budget resources ? (I mean in short term and locally at BCC)

Thanks,

Denis Bussieres

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 11:03:48 -0700
From: "Hawkes, Stephen"
Subject: RE: Significant Figures Algorithm

0.99 and 1.03 both have a precision of about 1%. 1.0 has a precision of 10% and
is therefore a much less precise number than the data from which it was
produced. To reproduce the precision of the data, it should be 1.02. The rule
that a product should have the same number of significant figures as the datum
with the fewest significant figures is commonly taught but false. Stephen

- -----Original Message-----
From: Walt Volland [mailto:vollggw@blarg.net]
Sent: Wednesday, May 17, 2000 12:35 PM
To: confchem@clarkson.edu
Subject: Re: Significant Figures Algorithm

Hello Stephen,

The values seem to be 1.03 with 3 sf and 0.99 with 2 sf . It looks like
the result should be 1.0197 which should be rounded to 1.0 with 2 sf

Walt Volland

Stephen Hawkes wrote:

Re Wayne Huang's program for the computation of significant figures. I entered
1.03 x 0.99 and the program computed the answer as 1.0 ! This is one
significant figure too few Stephen Hawkes

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 16:04:49 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Joel M. Goldberg"
Subject: RE: Significant Figures Algorithm

On Thu, 18 May 2000, Hawkes, Stephen wrote:

> 0.99 and 1.03 both have a precision of about 1%. 1.0 has a precision
> of 10% and is therefore a much less precise number than the data from
> which it was produced. To reproduce the precision of the data, it
> should be 1.02. The rule that a product should have the same number of
> significant figures as the datum with the fewest significant figures
> is commonly taught but false. Stephen

Hmmm, sig fig rules are not "false", but they can give results that
differ from what one would calculate from a more rigorous propagation
of error determination.

I've always taught that the sig figs "rules" are simply a way to
estimate the precision associated with a calculated result. It is a
quick and dirty way to propagate indeterminate error through a calculation
without actually needing to know the uncertainties of any particular value
better than to the nearest order of magnitude. As such, it is an ESTIMATE
of the order of magnitude of uncertainty associated with a calculated
result.

In this example, one really needs to know the uncertainties for each of
the two values (0.99 and 1.03) if we are to be able to propagate those
errors through the calculation.

In a best precision case, each would have an uncertainty of +/- 0.01.
Indeterminate errors propagate through a multiplication operation as:

rel uncert. of result = ((0.01/0.99)^2 + (0.01/1.03)^2)^1/2

= 1.4 x 10^-2

So, the result (1.0197) is known to +/- 0.014, justifying a result
of 1.02 (3 sig figs).

BUT, what if the uncertainty in each of the numbers was +/- 0.04? Then,
the result is only known to +/- 0.06, justifying a result of 1.0 (2 sig
figs).

So, both sides of this discussion are correct: the result should
be reported to EITHER 2 or 3 sig figs, depending on the actual
uncertainties of the numbers used in the calculation.

Sig fig rules are only able to give a result that is good to +/- 1
sig fig, since they are based on order of magnitude estimates of error
propagation. (I only dock students for too many or too few sig figs if
they deviate from the sig fig rules based values by more than 1 digit, for
just this reason!).

Joel

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Joel M. Goldberg
Dept. of Chemistry
University of Vermont
Burlington, VT 05405-0125
(802) 656-0269
jgoldber@zoo.uvm.edu
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 13:09:02 -0700
From: "Hawkes, Stephen"
Subject: RE: Significant Figures Algorithm

If we know the actual uncertainty in the data, then significant figure rules are
not needed at all. Stephen

-----Original Message-----
From: Joel M. Goldberg [mailto:jgoldber@zoo.uvm.edu]
Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2000 1:05 PM
To: 'confchem@clarkson.edu'
Subject: RE: Significant Figures Algorithm

On Thu, 18 May 2000, Hawkes, Stephen wrote:

> 0.99 and 1.03 both have a precision of about 1%. 1.0 has a precision
> of 10% and is therefore a much less precise number than the data from
> which it was produced. To reproduce the precision of the data, it
> should be 1.02. The rule that a product should have the same number of
> significant figures as the datum with the fewest significant figures
> is commonly taught but false. Stephen

Hmmm, sig fig rules are not "false", but they can give results that
differ from what one would calculate from a more rigorous propagation
of error determination.

I've always taught that the sig figs "rules" are simply a way to
estimate the precision associated with a calculated result. It is a
quick and dirty way to propagate indeterminate error through a calculation
without actually needing to know the uncertainties of any particular value
better than to the nearest order of magnitude. As such, it is an ESTIMATE
of the order of magnitude of uncertainty associated with a calculated
result.

In this example, one really needs to know the uncertainties for each of
the two values (0.99 and 1.03) if we are to be able to propagate those
errors through the calculation.

In a best precision case, each would have an uncertainty of +/- 0.01.
Indeterminate errors propagate through a multiplication operation as:

rel uncert. of result = ((0.01/0.99)^2 + (0.01/1.03)^2)^1/2

= 1.4 x 10^-2

So, the result (1.0197) is known to +/- 0.014, justifying a result
of 1.02 (3 sig figs).

BUT, what if the uncertainty in each of the numbers was +/- 0.04? Then,
the result is only known to +/- 0.06, justifying a result of 1.0 (2 sig
figs).

So, both sides of this discussion are correct: the result should
be reported to EITHER 2 or 3 sig figs, depending on the actual
uncertainties of the numbers used in the calculation.

Sig fig rules are only able to give a result that is good to +/- 1
sig fig, since they are based on order of magnitude estimates of error
propagation. (I only dock students for too many or too few sig figs if
they deviate from the sig fig rules based values by more than 1 digit, for
just this reason!).

Joel
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Joel M. Goldberg
Dept. of Chemistry
University of Vermont
Burlington, VT 05405-0125
(802) 656-0269
jgoldber@zoo.uvm.edu
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 16:19:16 -0500
From: George Wahl
Subject: RE: Significant Figures Algorithm

I wonder if our great delight in the intricacies of significant figures
helps us to attract students to the study of Chemistry?

Are we giving our students an important perspective on what a chemist does,
and what chemistry is all about by focusing on statistics??

Just a few thoughts from a non-quantitative Organic chemist.

>On Thu, 18 May 2000, Hawkes, Stephen wrote:
>
>> 0.99 and 1.03 both have a precision of about 1%. 1.0 has a precision
>> of 10% and is therefore a much less precise number than the data from
>> which it was produced. To reproduce the precision of the data, it
>> should be 1.02. The rule that a product should have the same number of
>> significant figures as the datum with the fewest significant figures
>> is commonly taught but false. Stephen
>
>Hmmm, sig fig rules are not "false", but they can give results that
>differ from what one would calculate from a more rigorous propagation
>of error determination.
>
>I've always taught that the sig figs "rules" are simply a way to
>estimate the precision associated with a calculated result. It is a
>quick and dirty way to propagate indeterminate error through a calculation
>without actually needing to know the uncertainties of any particular value
>better than to the nearest order of magnitude. As such, it is an ESTIMATE
>of the order of magnitude of uncertainty associated with a calculated
>result.
>
>In this example, one really needs to know the uncertainties for each of
>the two values (0.99 and 1.03) if we are to be able to propagate those
>errors through the calculation.
>
>In a best precision case, each would have an uncertainty of +/- 0.01.
>Indeterminate errors propagate through a multiplication operation as:
>
> rel uncert. of result = ((0.01/0.99)^2 + (0.01/1.03)^2)^1/2
>
> = 1.4 x 10^-2
>
> So, the result (1.0197) is known to +/- 0.014, justifying a result
>of 1.02 (3 sig figs).
>
>BUT, what if the uncertainty in each of the numbers was +/- 0.04? Then,
>the result is only known to +/- 0.06, justifying a result of 1.0 (2 sig
>figs).
>
> So, both sides of this discussion are correct: the result should
>be reported to EITHER 2 or 3 sig figs, depending on the actual
>uncertainties of the numbers used in the calculation.
>
> Sig fig rules are only able to give a result that is good to +/- 1
>sig fig, since they are based on order of magnitude estimates of error
>propagation. (I only dock students for too many or too few sig figs if
>they deviate from the sig fig rules based values by more than 1 digit, for
>just this reason!).
>
>Joel
>
>~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Joel M. Goldberg
> Dept. of Chemistry
> University of Vermont
> Burlington, VT 05405-0125
> (802) 656-0269
> jgoldber@zoo.uvm.edu
>~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
George H. Wahl, Jr.
Professor of Chemistry
N C State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-8204
(919) 515-2941
FAX (919) 515-3757

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 13:20:09 -0700
From: "Hawkes, Stephen"
Subject: RE: Significant Figures Algorithm

I wonder if such "important perspective" is given by the emphasis on
quantitative calculations in contemporary introductory chemistry. A non-
quantitative organic chemist, or most professionals who are required to take a
year of chemistry, would have little use for most of these calculations.
Stephen

-----Original Message-----
From: George Wahl [mailto:George_Wahl@ncsu.edu]
Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2000 2:19 PM
To: confchem@clarkson.edu
Subject: RE: Significant Figures Algorithm

I wonder if our great delight in the intricacies of significant figures
helps us to attract students to the study of Chemistry?

Are we giving our students an important perspective on what a chemist does,
and what chemistry is all about by focusing on statistics??

Just a few thoughts from a non-quantitative Organic chemist.

>On Thu, 18 May 2000, Hawkes, Stephen wrote:
>
>> 0.99 and 1.03 both have a precision of about 1%. 1.0 has a precision
>> of 10% and is therefore a much less precise number than the data from
>> which it was produced. To reproduce the precision of the data, it
>> should be 1.02. The rule that a product should have the same number of
>> significant figures as the datum with the fewest significant figures
>> is commonly taught but false. Stephen
>
>Hmmm, sig fig rules are not "false", but they can give results that
>differ from what one would calculate from a more rigorous propagation
>of error determination.
>
>I've always taught that the sig figs "rules" are simply a way to
>estimate the precision associated with a calculated result. It is a
>quick and dirty way to propagate indeterminate error through a calculation
>without actually needing to know the uncertainties of any particular value
>better than to the nearest order of magnitude. As such, it is an ESTIMATE
>of the order of magnitude of uncertainty associated with a calculated
>result.
>
>In this example, one really needs to know the uncertainties for each of
>the two values (0.99 and 1.03) if we are to be able to propagate those
>errors through the calculation.
>
>In a best precision case, each would have an uncertainty of +/- 0.01.
>Indeterminate errors propagate through a multiplication operation as:
>
> rel uncert. of result = ((0.01/0.99)^2 + (0.01/1.03)^2)^1/2
>
> = 1.4 x 10^-2
>
> So, the result (1.0197) is known to +/- 0.014, justifying a result
>of 1.02 (3 sig figs).
>
>BUT, what if the uncertainty in each of the numbers was +/- 0.04? Then,
>the result is only known to +/- 0.06, justifying a result of 1.0 (2 sig
>figs).
>
> So, both sides of this discussion are correct: the result should
>be reported to EITHER 2 or 3 sig figs, depending on the actual
>uncertainties of the numbers used in the calculation.
>
> Sig fig rules are only able to give a result that is good to +/- 1
>sig fig, since they are based on order of magnitude estimates of error
>propagation. (I only dock students for too many or too few sig figs if
>they deviate from the sig fig rules based values by more than 1 digit, for
>just this reason!).
>
>Joel
>
>~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Joel M. Goldberg
> Dept. of Chemistry
> University of Vermont
> Burlington, VT 05405-0125
> (802) 656-0269
> jgoldber@zoo.uvm.edu
>~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
George H. Wahl, Jr.
Professor of Chemistry
N C State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-8204
(919) 515-2941
FAX (919) 515-3757

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 16:34:57 -0400
From: Denis Bussieres
Subject: RE: Significant Figures Algorithm

At 16:19 18-05-2000 -0500, you wrote:
>I wonder if our great delight in the intricacies of significant figures
>helps us to attract students to the study of Chemistry?
>
>Are we giving our students an important perspective on what a chemist does,
>and what chemistry is all about by focusing on statistics??
>
>Just a few thoughts from a non-quantitative Organic chemist.

You are quite right. But nevertheless, uncertainty is rather crucial to
_every_ calculation or data processing. Without it, one might come with
environmental assessment that such product/process/industry is absolutely
harmless to the environment and/or the humans, as if one includes
uncertainties, one would _have to_ conclude that the numbers cannot tell us
this or it is +/- 100% (seen in a 1999 scientific report with data gathered
and published by Environment Canada...).

Yes this is a _basic_ requirement of _all_ science (or should be one) and
maybe yes we overemphasize it. But at the end, still a lot of scientists do
not get it right.

IMHO

Denis Bussieres
UQAC

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 15:57:13 -0500
From: "Alfred J. Lata"
Subject: Re: Significant firgures

Friends:

Let me pose another sig fig problem:

1.03 cm^2 / .99 cm

Your first year chemistry student comes up with calculator reading

1.03 / 0.99 = 1.04040404

And you say to this student -------? (Error propagation discussion follows,
to determine number of sig figs, and how many numbers to the right (in
this case) of the decimal point)

Please do present your explanation to this first year student within quote
signs.

n.b. One of the problems with significant figures is that the 'figures'
with which WE are dealing are not numbers (which may be infinitely
significant), but the numerical part of measured (?) quantities, which have
uncertainty in the measurement. I believe you will find that your students
are more willing to accept uncertainty in measurements, than in pure
numbers ("Why is this NUMBER uncertain?").

I do not feel it appropriate to present sig fig problems which contain only
numbers (even as examples), rather than quantities which have units
attached. There is a limit to the accuracy of the measurement of a
quantity. Many authors illustrate, and give sample 'problems', using only
numbers; no wonder students are confused!

Alfred J. Lata, Dept of Chemistry, Univ of Kansas, Lawrence KS 66045

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 14:06:28 -0700
From: "Hawkes, Stephen"
Subject: RE: Significant firgures

" The 1.03 and 0.99, since they are not written 1.0 and 1.0, imply that they are
known to within about 1 part in 100 or not much more. Your reader has a right
to expect similar precision from your reported answer unless, for some reason,
you don't want to claim that precision. Hence your answer is 1.04. It may be
shortened to 1.0 only if you are not confident of your work and prefer that your
reader does not rely on it." Stephen

-----Original Message-----
From: Alfred J. Lata [mailto:alata@caco3.chem.ukans.edu]
Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2000 1:57 PM
To: confchem@clarkson.edu
Subject: Re: Significant firgures

Friends:

Let me pose another sig fig problem:

1.03 cm^2 / .99 cm

Your first year chemistry student comes up with calculator reading

1.03 / 0.99 = 1.04040404

And you say to this student -------? (Error propagation discussion follows,
to determine number of sig figs, and how many numbers to the right (in
this case) of the decimal point)

Please do present your explanation to this first year student within quote
signs.

n.b. One of the problems with significant figures is that the 'figures'
with which WE are dealing are not numbers (which may be infinitely
significant), but the numerical part of measured (?) quantities, which have
uncertainty in the measurement. I believe you will find that your students
are more willing to accept uncertainty in measurements, than in pure
numbers ("Why is this NUMBER uncertain?").

I do not feel it appropriate to present sig fig problems which contain only
numbers (even as examples), rather than quantities which have units
attached. There is a limit to the accuracy of the measurement of a
quantity. Many authors illustrate, and give sample 'problems', using only
numbers; no wonder students are confused!

Alfred J. Lata, Dept of Chemistry, Univ of Kansas, Lawrence KS 66045

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 14:30:33 +0000
From: Walt Volland
Subject: WV-Re: on-line and campus class

Hello Denis,

Here are some partial answers to your questions. :-)

Denis Bussieres wrote:

> >W. Volland wrote :
> >
> >Since the beginning of the class we have enrolled over 300 students. The
> >class size is "limited" to 26 and the classes typically fill every quarter.
> >There are three of us teaching these on-line classes now. The numbers are
> >still small compared to the on campus classes around Washington.
>
> Here, administrators see NTICs ...

What is an NTIC?

> as a way to save money! They targeted
> courses with small class, typically less than 10 students, to be offered
> with other institutions on the net.

You are exactly right. Institutions have often eliminated these small classes
to "save" money. That is one reason why the on-line classes came into
existence. Some colleges were not offering the classes at all. There may be
an adequate number of students to populate a class but the traditonal fashion
of requiring everyone to assemble in one room

> - Why your enrollement is "limited" to 26 ?

There has to be a limit set at some point. The number is a carry over from the
concept of supervising students in a wok product intensive class where there is
a lot of paper grading. It also carry's over from the common lab class size.
There is a lot of discussion about the appropriate DL class size.

> - Is there a real benefit in time allocation, human ressources and/or
> budget ressources ? (I mean in short term and locally at BCC)

Yes, there is a benefit for the institution and the students.
1. The students do not have to commute to and from the campus. They can access
the material and contract me throuhg email 24 x 7.
2. The colleges do not have to spend additional money to provide classroom
space for "new" students.

3. Students can still hold a job and fit the course into their schedule.

4. Interaction between students and instructors "can" be better than a
traditional class becasue of direct email contact.

5. Students often are more enthusiatsitic about classes because they think
they are participating in the "new" technology and "modern" education.

6. The college has the benefit of showing that it is willing to adapt to
the new modes of communication. The public image is positive. The community is
more positive about the college's policies.

7. The online classes pay their own way.

8. The public demands new technology in the curriculum.

Walt

> Thanks,
>
> Denis Bussieres

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 22:05:39 GMT
From: "Wayne Huang"
Subject: RE: Significant firgures

Hi, all:

I enjoy the healthy discussion of significant figures and feel obligated to
give my 2 cents on this since it was originated from using our SoftChemistry
program.

Steven, you got a good point there. This gets into the very essence of teaching
chemistry to students - IS WHAT WE TEACH A TRUE SCIENCE? Before we wonder too
far, I would like to stick with your original question and make two points about
significant figures in Multiplication and Division.

(1) What is in the textbook - Standard Rules

The underlying principles for any math operations (+,-,*,/)are the same: "The
combining measurements must be no greater than the least accurate measurement."

However the rule for Addition/Subtraction is different from that of Multiplication/Division.

For Addition/Subtraction, the answer can contain no more DECIMAL PLACES (on
the right of the decimal point)than the least accurate measurement.

For Multiplication/Division, the answer can contain no more SIGNIFICANT FIGURES
(on the left AND right of the decimal point, if applicable) than the least accurate
measurement.

Steven's arguement works well in the Addition/Subtraction cases. The big question
he raised here is the how reliable of these rules we are teaching everyday.
That comes to my second point.

(2) What is in the real world - Alternative Rules

The scientific fact - there have been studies by non-chemists (C. Mulliss &
W. Lee) about the standard rounding rule of multiplication/division. A statistical
method was used to investigate the accuracy of the standard rounding rule. This
method involved the random generation of millions of multiplication and division
problems. Here is the finding: "The application of the standard rule was found
to work only 46.4% of the time. The standard rule is, indeed, highly inaccurate.
The standard rule was found to predict 1 less significant digit than warranted
53.5% of the time. The standard rule is very dangerous to data, causing valuable
information to be lost over half of the time." I skipped the alternative rule
to save the bandwidth.

We can argue all day that how well their statistical method, but the point is
well made - the standard rule we teach everyday is not quite correct, at least
partially.

Significant figure is one of the chemical concepts mislead the students the
most. Not to add any confusion, the algorithms we employed follow closely to
the textbooks. Our goal is to provide complimentary tools to help students in
problem solving skills, which, in my opinion, is the one of most needed skills
in the real world and the poorest area for students in learning chemistry.

- --Wayne

PS: If you are teaching introductory or general chemistry, I would be happy
to supply a complimentary copy of SoftChemistry 1.5 to anyone on this list(23
fully functional modules with online documentation, free). Just drop a note
offline.

Wayne Huang, PhD
MolecularSoft
www.molecularsoft.com
wayne@molecularsoft.com
"SoftChemistry - The Workwork Wizards"

>" The 1.03 and 0.99, since they are not written 1.0 and 1.0, imply that they
are known to within about 1 part in 100 or not much more. Your reader has a
right to expect similar precision from your reported answer unless, for some
reason, you don't want to claim that precision. Hence your answer is 1.04. It
may be shortened to 1.0 only if you are not confident of your work and prefer
that your reader does not rely on it." Stephen
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Alfred J. Lata [mailto:alata@caco3.chem.ukans.edu]
> Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2000 1:57 PM
> To: confchem@clarkson.edu
> Subject: Re: Significant firgures
>
> Friends:
>
> Let me pose another sig fig problem:
>
> 1.03 cm^2 / .99 cm
>
> Your first year chemistry student comes up with calculator reading
>
> 1.03 / 0.99 = 1.04040404
>
> And you say to this student -------? (Error propagation discussion follows,

> to determine number of sig figs, and how many numbers to the right (in
> this case) of the decimal point)
>
> Please do present your explanation to this first year student within quote

> signs.
>
> n.b. One of the problems with significant figures is that the 'figures'
> with which WE are dealing are not numbers (which may be infinitely
> significant), but the numerical part of measured (?) quantities, which have

> uncertainty in the measurement. I believe you will find that your students

> are more willing to accept uncertainty in measurements, than in pure
> numbers ("Why is this NUMBER uncertain?").
>
> I do not feel it appropriate to present sig fig problems which contain only

> numbers (even as examples), rather than quantities which have units
> attached. There is a limit to the accuracy of the measurement of a
> quantity. Many authors illustrate, and give sample 'problems', using only

> numbers; no wonder students are confused!
>
> Alfred J. Lata, Dept of Chemistry, Univ of Kansas, Lawrence KS 66045

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 19:58:43 -0400
From: "Frank M. Lanzafame"
Subject: Re: Significant Figures Algorithm

"Hawkes, Stephen" wrote:
> I wonder if such "important perspective" is given by the emphasis on quantitative calculations in
> contemporary introductory chemistry. A non-quantitative organic chemist, or most professionals who are
> required to take a year of chemistry, would have little use for most of these calculations.

Little use???

Reminds me of the tale of the Egyptian tour guide who, when asked the age of the
pyramids, replied 4003 years. When asked how he knew the age that precisely, he
answered: 'When I started working here, they told me the pyramids were 4000
years old, and that was 3 years ago'.

Even a non-quantitative tour guide should have SOME appreciation of significant
figures.

RE: the overall debate, we need to keep in mind that we are teaching the ROUGH
RULES in general chemistry. In the analytical course, error propagation is
considered much more rigorously applying appropriate statistical error analysis.

I always point this out to students when teaching significant figures and point
out the rule fails in the following case:

99 +/- 1
101 +/- 1

Both numbers are good to around 1% yet we call the first 2 digits and the second
3 digits. Herewith, the ROUGH RULES fail and only provide us with a ROUGH
estimate of the appropriate sig. figs.

If you want better, it exists, and one should consult error propagation in a
standard Analytical Text such as Fundamentals of Analytical Chemistry, by Skoog,
West, and Holler.

If one is going to program a computer to do significant figures, it would seem
preferable to program the full statistical error propagation rather than
"program" the rough rules.

- --
/\~~~/\
> > Frank M. Lanzafame
> ^ ^ > Rochester, NY
> (_O_) > Email: mailto:lanzafam@rochester.rr.com
> U > Web Page: http://www.monroecc.edu/wusers/flanzafame/
> > FAQs: http://www.monroecc.edu/wusers/flanzafame/FAQ.htm
>>
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 17:16:01 +0000
From: Walt Volland
Subject: Re: Significant Figures Algorithm

I agree with Frank,

"Frank M. Lanzafame" wrote:

> "Hawkes, Stephen" wrote:
> >
> snip... snip... A non-quantitative organic chemist, or most professionals who are
> > required to take a year of chemistry, would have little use for most of these calculations.
>
> Little use???
> snip snip
>
> Even a non-quantitative tour guide should have SOME appreciation of significant
> figures.
>
> RE: the overall debate, we need to keep in mind that we are teaching the ROUGH
> RULES in general chemistry.

> I always point this out to students when teaching significant figures and point
> out the rule fails in the following case:
>
> 99 +/- 1
> 101 +/- 1
>
> Both numbers are good to around 1% yet we call the first 2 digits and the second
> 3 digits. Herewith, the ROUGH RULES fail and only provide us with a ROUGH
> estimate of the appropriate sig. figs.

I do much the same thing in my classes. I emphasize that measurements have
limitations imposed on them. Too many students come into chemistry with the idea
that they are going to get the "right" answers in science. We also come to rely
on the person who provided the data to present it in a form that matches an
accepted standard .

> If you want better, it exists, and one should consult error propagation in a
> standard Analytical Text such as Fundamentals of Analytical Chemistry, by Skoog,
> West, and Holler.
>
> If one is going to program a computer to do significant figures, it would seem
> preferable to program the full statistical error propagation rather than
> "program" the rough rules.

The difficulty is that the program apparently is aimed at the General Chemistry
market where the students are learning the rough rules .

Students would constantly be in state of distress if there text and lecture did
one thing and the software did something else.

> /\~~~/\
> > > Frank M. Lanzafame
> > ^ ^ > Rochester, NY
> > (_O_) > Email: mailto:lanzafam@rochester.rr.com
> > U > Web Page: http://www.monroecc.edu/wusers/flanzafame/
> > > FAQs: http://www.monroecc.edu/wusers/flanzafame/FAQ.htm
> >>

Walt
Walt Volland
Department of Chemistry
Bellevue Community College
Bellevue, Washington 98007
425-747-4455

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 01:34:37 GMT
From: "Wayne Huang"
Subject: Re: Significant Figures Algorithm

Chemistry, "unfortunately", is not an exact science, not even quantum chemistry.
This makes developing a comprehensive chemistry program that much harder. In
math, they have Mathematica or MathCad or Maple to solve most the math problems,
but in chemistry, we do not have the equivalence.

Just like Fourier transform, a mathematician will take infinite terms to be
exact; a physicist will take 2-3 terms whichever have the physical meanings;
a chemist will take only one term which is measurable, although P-chemist might
disagree with me. The point is that chemists care about the measurement quantities,
significant figure is the concept created to represent the uncertainty of a
given measurement, the concept should not be ignored, not even an organic chemist.

Walt is right, not to confuse students with statistics in analytical chemistry,
a problem-solving program for general chemistry is just a tool to aim students
to learn within the scope of the course, not beyond. It should be designed to
be a complementary tool for lectures and textbooks. Traditional lecturing and
printed textbooks, I think, should be part of learning chemistry many years
to come.

- --Wayne

Wayne Huang, PhD
MolecularSoft.com
wayne@molecularsoft.com
"SoftChemistry - The Homework Wizards"

>> If one is going to program a computer to do significant figures, it would
seem
>> preferable to program the full statistical error propagation rather than

>> "program" the rough rules.
>
>The difficulty is that the program apparently is aimed at the General Chemistry
market where the students are learning the rough rules .
>
>Students would constantly be in state of distress if there text and lecture
did one thing and the software did something else.

>> /\~~~/\
>> > > Frank M. Lanzafame
>> > ^ ^ > Rochester, NY
>> > (_O_) > Email: mailto:lanzafam@rochester.rr.com
>> > U > Web Page: http://www.monroecc.edu/wusers/flanzafame/
>> > > FAQs: http://www.monroecc.edu/wusers/flanzafame/FAQ.htm
>> >>
>
>Walt
>Walt Volland
>Department of Chemistry
>Bellevue Community College
>Bellevue, Washington 98007
>425-747-4455

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 22:18:21 -0400
From: dbussier
Subject: Re: WV-Re: on-line and campus class

> > >W. Volland wrote :
> > >
> > >Since the beginning of the class we have enrolled over 300 students. The
> > >class size is "limited" to 26 and the classes typically fill every quarter.
> > >There are three of us teaching these on-line classes now. The numbers are
> > >still small compared to the on campus classes around Washington.
> >
> > Here, administrators see NTICs ...
>
>What is an NTIC?
>
> > as a way to save money! They targeted
> > courses with small class, typically less than 10 students, to be offered
> > with other institutions on the net.

Hi,

I just mix it with French where NTIC means New Technology of Information
and Communication.

Sorry,

Denis Bussieres

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 20:09:59 -0700
From: George Wiger
Subject: Re: Significant Figures Algorithm

We've lost sight of the fact that this thread was started by someone
choosing two numbers, I assume arbitrarily, a testing a program. The nature
of the numbers is critical and has been overlooked in many discussions. For
instance. Suppose the numbers were generated by the following thought: A
box of cereal costs $1.03. It's on sale for 99% of its original price, what
should it cost? at what level does uncertainty exist in either of these
numbers?

George Wiger

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 08:15:53 +0100
From: John Oversby
Subject: Re: Significant Figures Algorithm

There are plenty of well-researched reports to suggest that attention to this level
of detail and argument is intensely demotivating to students. If we ask why should
students be aware of errors, then it is to permit them to assess the validity of
conclusions based on some particular piece of data. In most cases, the use of
significant figures (for addition and subtraction) and percentage error (for
multiplication and division) would be sufficient to make the point. For material
that is to be published in the chemical research literature, then it is not an
adequate approach. Are students at the end of your courses aware of how to choose
when to use each method? The evidence of the graduate honours students whom I teach
is that they still do not appreciate when to use a rough and ready method and when
to use a more rigorous method. It must be even worse for general chemistry
students. Is this a case of not seeing the wood for the trees?

John Oversby

George Wahl wrote:

> I wonder if our great delight in the intricacies of significant figures
> helps us to attract students to the study of Chemistry?
>
> Are we giving our students an important perspective on what a chemist does,
> and what chemistry is all about by focusing on statistics??
>
> Just a few thoughts from a non-quantitative Organic chemist.
>
> >On Thu, 18 May 2000, Hawkes, Stephen wrote:
> >
> >> 0.99 and 1.03 both have a precision of about 1%. 1.0 has a precision
> >> of 10% and is therefore a much less precise number than the data from
> >> which it was produced. To reproduce the precision of the data, it
> >> should be 1.02. The rule that a product should have the same number of
> >> significant figures as the datum with the fewest significant figures
> >> is commonly taught but false. Stephen
> >
> >Hmmm, sig fig rules are not "false", but they can give results that
> >differ from what one would calculate from a more rigorous propagation
> >of error determination.
> >
> >I've always taught that the sig figs "rules" are simply a way to
> >estimate the precision associated with a calculated result. It is a
> >quick and dirty way to propagate indeterminate error through a calculation
> >without actually needing to know the uncertainties of any particular value
> >better than to the nearest order of magnitude. As such, it is an ESTIMATE
> >of the order of magnitude of uncertainty associated with a calculated
> >result.
> >
> >In this example, one really needs to know the uncertainties for each of
> >the two values (0.99 and 1.03) if we are to be able to propagate those
> >errors through the calculation.
> >
> >In a best precision case, each would have an uncertainty of +/- 0.01.
> >Indeterminate errors propagate through a multiplication operation as:
> >
> > rel uncert. of result = ((0.01/0.99)^2 + (0.01/1.03)^2)^1/2
> >
> > = 1.4 x 10^-2
> >
> > So, the result (1.0197) is known to +/- 0.014, justifying a result
> >of 1.02 (3 sig figs).
> >
> >BUT, what if the uncertainty in each of the numbers was +/- 0.04? Then,
> >the result is only known to +/- 0.06, justifying a result of 1.0 (2 sig
> >figs).
> >
> > So, both sides of this discussion are correct: the result should
> >be reported to EITHER 2 or 3 sig figs, depending on the actual
> >uncertainties of the numbers used in the calculation.
> >
> > Sig fig rules are only able to give a result that is good to +/- 1
> >sig fig, since they are based on order of magnitude estimates of error
> >propagation. (I only dock students for too many or too few sig figs if
> >they deviate from the sig fig rules based values by more than 1 digit, for
> >just this reason!).
> >
> >Joel
>~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> > Joel M. Goldberg
> > Dept. of Chemistry
> > University of Vermont
> > Burlington, VT 05405-0125
> > (802) 656-0269
> > jgoldber@zoo.uvm.edu
>~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> George H. Wahl, Jr.
> Professor of Chemistry
> N C State University
> Raleigh, NC 27695-8204
> (919) 515-2941
> FAX (919) 515-3757

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 01:10:37 +0000
From: Walt Volland
Subject: WV-Re: Significant Figures Algorithm

Hi George,

I agree we are far afield from the original discussion about animations and
simulations. I suggest that a nice simulation could provide data for a
thorough review of good practices in using significant figures.

I seriously doubt that the numbers used 1.03 and 0.99 were random picks.

I believe they were selected with the intent of seeing how the program would
handle just such a combination.

George in your price example, clearly the $ 1.0197
will be rounded to the nearest penny $1.02
which introduces the issue of counts versus measurements .

This reminds me of the line from Laurel and Hardy where Stan says

"Gee Ollie, now look at the fine kettle of fish you have gotten us
into. "

Walt

George Wiger wrote:

> We've lost sight of the fact that this thread was started by someone
> choosing two numbers, I assume arbitrarily, a testing a program.
> snip snip snip
> Suppose the numbers were ..snip..snip
> A box of cereal costs $1.03. It's on sale for 99% of its original price, what
> should it cost? at what level does uncertainty exist in either of these
> numbers?
>
> George Wiger

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 07:47:38 -0400
From: Brian1
Subject: Re: Significant firgures

Hi Wayne,
How does your program handle rounding with 5 as the digit deciding the
last SF. How would it round 0.655 and 0.665 to 2 SF?

Brian

Wayne Huang wrote:
(1) What is in the textbook - Standard Rules
>
> The underlying principles for any math operations (+,-,*,/)are the same: "The
> combining measurements must be no greater than the least accurate measurement."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Fri, 19 May 00 11:37:08 EDT
From: Donald Rosenthal
Subject: Significant Figures

FORWARDED MESSAGE

- ----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 07:33:41 -0500
To: confchem@clarkson.edu
Cc: aubrey.mcintosh@mail.utexas.NET
From: mcintosh@vima.austin.tx.us
Subject: RE: Significant Figures Algorithm

I would welcome pathological examples of significant figures
calculations.

|
| Hmmm, sig fig rules are not "false", but they can give results that
| differ from what one would calculate from a more rigorous propagation
| of error determination.
|

I wrote a program library that did significant figures calculations
in 1990. See "The Natural Representation of Real Numbers," Aubrey
McIntosh and Jennifer Brodbelt, Computers Math. Applic. V 25 (6)
p3-14, 1993.

The library has the feature that it notes the number of significant
digits when it reads numbers from a text on input, and carries them
through the calculations, and correctly emits them on output.

I have used this library underneath my matrix multiply and
eigenvector calculation efforts on my own data for about a decade.
You may be suprised to know that each eigenvector has its own amount
of significant figures. As an observation with no theoretical
explaination, real positive lab data often yields eigenvectors so
that the largest eigenvalues have the most number of significant
figures in their eigenvectors. In some numerical setups, the number
of significant figures in intermediate calculations goes to 0! I
assume that this always indicates numerical instability.

I have had a few instances of unexpected results, including
essentially this example. In many of those instances I have done a
rigorous propagation of error determination and found that my program
was reliable. I have pretty much stopped being paranoid about the
program correctness at this point, but as I said at opening, I would
welcome pathological examples to review.

By the way, I went through several texts and soul searching before
coding the program. As a result, I teach the significant figures a
slightly different way, one that gives a correct algorithm. This
follows language hidden in the explaination in one of my
undergraduate texts. I can probably find an attribution at the
office if anyone is interested. Basically, when doing the math, I
consider the last digit in each element to be "contaminated."
Following standard 3rd grade blackboard arithmetic, it is easy to see
which digits in the result are clean and which are contaminated.

1.03
0.99
----
927 (all uncertain)
927 (7 uncertain)
------
10197 (second 1 uncertain because of "9" --> report 1.02 )

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 07:07:11 -0400
From: Denis Bussieres
Subject: End of Discussion - Session A

Hi everyone,

As stated by W. Volland, we are far afield from animation and simulation.
This has been a quite interesting discussion and hope the next one will
show some more good thoughts.

The discussion on Session A papers is ended.

Short Questions about papers B2 and B3 will be accepted today and answers
posted Monday.

Denis Bussieres,
UQAC, chair of the ConfChem

----------------------------- END OF DOCUMENT --------------------------------
-------- Prepared by B. Tissue 05/22/00. Edited to reduce file size. ---------