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Chemical Education Masters & Doctoral Specialization

What is Chemical Education Research?

Chemical Education Research (CER) is a relatively new area of research as compared to traditional areas in chemistry such as inorganic, organic, and analytical chemistry.  CER has its foundation in the sound theories of teaching and learning that support the pillars of experimental design through qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches to research.  Researchers in chemical education draw form their vast knowledge of chemistry and also from several other disciplines such as sociology, psychology, education and technology.  As chemical education researchers, our focus is to improve the teaching and learning of chemistry in order to form strong, scientifically coherent conceptual understanding of chemistry among learners.

Why Pursue Chemical Education Research: several factors attract students and professionals to the area of chemical educational research.  Some of these are to:

Engage in the scholarship of learning and teaching

Develop: a practitioner's perspective through proven research based instructional practices

Contribute to the field of chemical education by developing products, curriculum materials, assessments or other tools, which further enhance the teaching and learning of chemistry

Career Prospects for CER graduates

Skills gained in chemical education research are widely applicable and open doors for the CER graduates in several areas that range from teaching to independent consulting.  Chemical Education graduates develop specialized research skills tin addition to a strong content knowledge.  These skills include use of appropriate statistical methods and software for quantities research, qualitative research methods that involve interviewing and observation of human subjects, and communication and presentation skills which are the heart of chemical education research (note that recruiting and working with human subjects for research requires specialized human subjects training, careful planning, a high level of organization, sensitivity and tact).  Some of the areas in which CER graduates have been successfully employed include:

  • Academia: as a faculty member in area of chemistry (Teaching/Teaching and Research)
  • Non-profit institutions: example RAND corporation, ACT
  • For profit companies or institutions that include Textbook Publishers - Pearson, Willey, Web Assign
  • Federal or state education policy
  • School teachers
  • Technical or Scientific writers (Textbook authors, Technical report developers)
  • Independent Consultants

Chemical Education Research at South Dakota State University

SDSU is committed to a high quality learning experience for its students.  This commitment to quality reflects in the largest number of chemical education faculty at South Dakota State University.  There are eight full time faculty members with varied research/teaching interests in chemistry and chemical education.  We have strength in numbers due to a high degree of collaboration among the chemical education faculty and also because of versatility of research avenues that any undergraduate or graduate student aspiring for CER can pursue.  Research areas include, but are not limited to, guided-inquiry based instruction, visualizations, curriculum development, role of metacognition in student learning, science teacher professional development, chemical education research in inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry.

Graduate Courses for CER

  • Students must complete 4 core chemistry classes OR 4 core biochemistry courses from the following lists

Chemistry Core Courses

  • CHEM 701: Advanced Organic
  • CHEM 703: Advanced Physical Chemistry
  • CHEM 704: Advanced Inorganic Chemistry
  • CHEM 705: Principles of Biochemistry
  • CHEM 706: Advanced Analytical Chemistry

Biochemistry Core Courses

  • CHEM 705: Principles of Biochemistry
  • CHEM 767: Biophysical Chemistry
  • BIOS 662: Advanced Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • GSR 601: Research Regulations Compliance

Chemical Education Classes

  • CHEM 516: Chemical Communications
  • CHEM 711: Chemical Education Research
  • CHEM 713: Qualitative Research Methods
  • CHEM 714: Quantitative Research Methods
  • CHEM 715: Chemistry Instruction in Higher Education
  • STAT 784: Statistical Inference I
  • CHEM 790: Seminar

Chemical Education M.S. (Online)

The Chemical Education M.S. program is designed for in-service K-12 science teachers with a valid teaching license. The program requires course work (32 credits) that typically can be completed in two years. Of the 32 graduate level credits, 22 are in courses offered via distance learning (online). The remaining ten credits are in an action research course and a problem-based classroom application course, delivered on campus during the two consecutive summers students are enrolled in the program.

Course Break Down

Online CoursesOn campus courses (required)
  • CHEM 770: Atomic Theory & Bonding
  • CHEM 771: Intermolecular Interactions & Phases of Matter
  • CHEM 772: Thermodynamics
  • CHEM 773: Equilibria & Acid-Base Chemistry
  • CHEM 774: Kenetics, Nuclear & Electrochemistry
  • CHEM 775: Organic & Biochemistry
  • CHEM 778: Chemistry Teaching Strategies
  • CHEM 788: Problem-based Classroom Application
First summer
  • CHEM 776: Laboratory Development
  • CHEM 777: Action Research in the Secondary Classroom
Second summer
  • CHEM 776: Laboratory Development
  • CHEM 788: Problem-Based Classroom Application

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