Date of Award


Document Type

Master's report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Science Education (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences


Shari L Stockero


As a chemistry teacher I felt that the gas laws were rather simple concepts to understand. My students, however, felt the opposite. Conceptual issues, as well as mathematical issues were problematic every year. In this study, a unit about gas properties and gas laws was modified to include inquiry-based teaching methods. The research questions focused on how these changes affected student results on a traditional end-of-the-unit test and on an alternative assessment. Students’ attitudes during these lessons were also monitored to see if the inquiry methods improved student perceptions of teaching, learning, and self-awareness. The results of this study showed that an inquiry approach improved the student’s ability to perform on a traditional end of the unit test in the areas of microscopic understanding (atomic level), symbolic understanding (mathematical level) and graphical understanding (relationships between pressure, volume and temperature). It was also shown to a have a positive effect on the students’ confidence and attitude towards the material presented when inquiry was utilized. On the other hand, the revised unit did not improve the students’ overall performance on an alternative assessment geared towards the concept of pressure, but showed some improvement in two specific areas: (a) students’ understanding that pressure is created by molecules and their movement and (b) students’ understanding that when pressure is equalized little happens within a system.