This three-year study involved an evaluation of molecular modeling by students in first year college chemistry. The molecular modeling program utilized was Spartan (Wavefunction, Inc., Irvine, California) on a UNIX-based platform with Silicon Graphics Indigo series workstations. A treatment group of 129 students visited a computer room four times during the semester for two-hour sessions. They completed exercises on periodic trends in atoms, structure of molecules, electronic structure of molecules such as MO and valence bond theory, and properties of organic molecules. The students were required to complete an evaluation of the molecular modeling computer experience at the end of the semester regarding aspects such as: effectiveness, integration with course content, interest, benefit, and advantages and disadvantages. Also obtained through the evaluation were students' opinions regarding the helpfulness of the molecular modeling computer experience for 3-D visualization of atomic and molecular structure and whether their understanding of atomic and molecular structure was enhanced. The first two years of the study constituted a pilot study and data for this study were obtained in the third year. Though the specifics are not reported here, quantitatively the achievement of the treatment and non-treatment groups was also assessed. There was a significant difference in achievement on the Final Exam of the semester (p = 0.0067) between the treatment and non-treatment groups on multiple choice questions pertaining to concepts of resonance, dipole moment, and atomic/molecular stoichiometry.
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