Parkland College/HP Chemistry-Physics-Computer Science Collaboration

Parkland College

Departments of Natural Sciences (NS), Computer Science and Information Technology (CSIT)

Champaign, Illinois (USA)

Investigators: David Wilson, Carl Lorenz, Marc Schudel, Maria Mobasseri, Yi Luan, Ed O’Sullivan

Main project website:




PROJECT ABSTRACT: The main goals of this project are to continue work from our first HP TFT grant and to extend the use of tablet technology into majors level physics courses. We are using HP mobile technology to implement a four phase program to benefit Parkland students:

1) Continuation of assessment database development
2) Implementation of assessment database in general chemistry
3) Identification of misconceptions in learning general chemistry and adjustment of teaching methods
4) Implementation of tablet technology in the majors physics courses




Impact on Student Learning


General chemistry and physics at Parkland a year ago:

•Retention quite low
•Grades average with a bimodal tendency
•Misconceptions difficult to spot

General chemistry and physics at Parkland now:

•Tablets used in the classroom twice a week (Figure 1)
•Test scores show some improvement
•Retention (A, B, C) in tablet sections (N=5) at 66%; retention in non-tablet sections (N=4) at 52%
•Percentage of students completing the course who earned an A, B, or C up from 78% in non-tablet sections to 92% in tablet sections.
•Misconceptions being identified more quickly (Figure 2)

Figure 1




Figure 2





Goals for the future:

•Continue addressing misconceptions (Figure 3)
•Lower attrition rates in general chemistry by half
•5% increase in grade averages in the first year

•8% increase in grade averages in the second year

Figure 3

CSIT students have gained valuable experience:

•Developing website (Figure 4)
•Developing database of student responses (Figure 3)
•Working with clients

•Working with other application developers on a complex project



Figure 4






Impact on Teaching


General chemistry and physics at Parkland a year ago:

•Sections of no more than 24 students
•Format is traditional with labs, PowerPoint and whiteboard


General chemistry and physics at Parkland now:

•Curriculum using the Molecular Workbench (MW) platform (chemistry) and Classroom Presenter (physics)
•Activities include a variety of formative assessments
•Student misconceptions being addressed by instructors


Goals for the future:

•Increase in performance compared to the three-year period prior to implementation of the tablets
•A 50% decrease in attrition (defined as a D, F, or W) within 2 years of the first implementation.

•Increase in student performance on topics identified as misconceptions, resulting in average increase of half a letter grade.






Technology Implementation

Mark McClain and other Campus Tech personnel worked hard to get 90 tablets operational for the fall semester.
Other CSIT students will be involved in developing the website to disseminate our results to the global community.


Chemistry faculty have developed over 30 custom animation and assessment activities using the MW platform (below)

Physics students ink up instructor’s PowerPoint slides on their new tablets. They are also experimenting with Classroom Presenter (below)

Thanks to:


*  Hewlett Packard for their generous grant
  Concord Consortium for their outstanding software and technical support
*  CSIT faculty for their supervision and support of student efforts
*   Mark McClain and other Parkland Campus Tech personnel