Current Research

Current Research

My group conducts research and scholarship about the teaching and learning of chemistry.  For student learning, we devise methods, instruments (i.e., means of data collection), and analytics (e.g., patterns, pathways, and strategies).  The general areas and topics include

  • student problem-solving in introductory courses
    • cognitive load (i.e., role of short term memory) in word problems
    • representations of atomic and molecular structures
  • use of eye-tracking hardware and software in student learning
    • development of research methods using eye-tracking hardware: LCD monitor, goggles and Google® Glass
    • student understanding of graphics, figures, and molecular representations
    • student analysis of spectral data
  • laboratory experiences in introductory courses
    • identifying and understanding student skills and activities
    • electronic data collection and experiments to promote guided inquiry
  • multimedia delivery of content, self-assessments (i.e., practice or homework) and assessments (i.e., quizzes and tests)
  • curricular redesign and development
    • design and use of a preparatory chemistry course to increase student success
    • creation of online versions of courses




“Problem Difficulty in Stoichiometry Problems,” Hui Tang, John S. Kirk, Norbert J. Pienta, J. Chem. Ed., 2014. in press [post-doc research, article, NJP author]


“Eye-tracking Study of Complexity in Gas Law Problems” Hui Tang, Norbert J. Pienta, J. Chem. Ed., 2012.  89 (8), 988-94. DOI: 10.1021/ed200644k  [post-doc research, article, NJP author]


"Permutation test for groups of scanpaths using normalized Levenshtein distances and application in NMR questions," Hui Tang, Joseph J. Topczewski, Anna M. Topczewski, and Norbert J. Pienta. Proceedings of the Symposium on Eye Tracking Research and Applications, (2012) pp. 169-172. ACM. DOI: 10.1145/2168556.2168584


“Investigating the Effect of Complexity Factors in Gas Law Problems,” Jennifer Schuttlefield, John S. Kirk, Norbert J. Pienta, Hui Tang, J. Chem. Ed., 2012, 89 (5),  586-91. DOI: 10.1021/ed100865y  [dissertation & post-doc research, article, NJP author]


“General chemistry student surveys: Longitudinal data about which factors helped them learn,” Norbert J. Pienta, in Investigating Classroom Myths through Research on Teaching and Learning, Diane Bunce (ed), Washington (DC): ACS Symposium Series #1074, 2011 [NJP chapter author, student learning factors in general chemistry]


“Enhancing the Role of Assessment in Curriculum Reform in Chemistry,” Thomas Holme, Stacey Lowery Bretz, Melanie Cooper, Jennifer Lewis, Pamela Paek, Norbert Pienta, Angelica Stacy, Ron Stevens, Marcy Towns; Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2010, 11, 92-7. DOI: 10.1039/C005352J  [NJP co-author]



 “From Course Redesign to Curricular Review: Assessment in Chemistry at the University of Iowa,” Norbert J. Pienta, in Assessment in Chemistry Programs: Evolving Best Practices, John Ryan and John Muffo (eds), Association for Institutional Research, Assessment in the Disciplines Series, Tallahassee: AIR, 2010 [NJP chapter author; assessment in chemistry programs]


 “Development of Hands-on Nanotechnology Content Materials: Undergraduate Chemistry and Beyond,” S.C. Larsen, N.J. Pienta & R.G. Larsen in ACS Symposium Series, Nanotechnology in Undergraduate Education, Kimberly Pacheco (ed.), Washington (DC): ACS Press, 2009. [NJP co-author of chapter]