Chapter 14: An Educational Software for Supporting Students’ Learning of IR Spectral Interpretation
Published:17 May 2021
M. Limniou, N. Papadopoulos, D. Gavril, A. Touni, and M. Chatziapostolidou, in Problems and Problem Solving in Chemistry Education: Analysing Data, Looking for Patterns and Making Deductions, ed. G. Tsaparlis, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2021, ch. 14, pp. 340-360.
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Chemistry (or related to chemistry) courses usually devote a substantial amount of lecture time on IR spectroscopy as a cognitive subject and include at least one laboratory experiment employing IR spectroscopy. Teachers discuss various spectra with students in order to identify functional groups studying different types of molecules. The proposed educational software includes a wide range of chemical compounds supported by real IR spectra which allows students to work on scaffold learning activities. The aim of this educational software is for students to not only interpret spectra, but also to study the effects of chemical properties on spectra gaining knowledge and skills through scaffolded interpretation activities. Specifically, through the different functionalities of this software, students learn how to interpret via a step-by-step process an IR spectrum. They do so by connecting the characteristic absorption bands with specific functional groups and the reduced mass for bonds connected with different atoms. Learners work on a virtual environment by studying different organic compounds and they gradually develop skills on IR spectral interpretation and build their knowledge on microscopic chemical structure representations by completing problem-based tasks pre-determined by the teachers. This software has been designed to support but not replace the students’ hands-on experience gained through laboratory and lecture time. A pilot integration of this software was trialled into a small-scale face-to-face learning environment to support an undergraduate course and into an online learning environment to support a postgraduate course. After practising with the proposed learning tool and completing the relevant tasks, students evaluated their experience under the perspective of software structure and usefulness in their learning process.