Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


The purpose of this study was to determine which of the following approaches to the teaching of high school chemistry is providing a better background for the college preparatory student: the Chemical Education Material Study, or the traditional approach as exemplified by the Dull, Metcalfe, and Williams’ textbook and materials. The study was limited to the college preparatory student who received instruction in chemistry in one or the approaches in question during the 1963-1964 school year, and who proceeded to a publicly supported college or university in the state of Kansas. The study was carried out by requesting information on teacher background and student enrollment for the 1963-1964 school year from a group of seventy-four high schools, thirty- seven from each approach. Response to the request resulted in data for ten teachers and 299 students using the CHEM Study materials and for eighteen teachers and 413 students using the traditional approach. The students were then categorized by college or university attended and an attempt was made to locate their college records. College records were successfully located and examined for 237 of the students in the CHEM Study group and 362 students in the traditional group. An analysis of the CHEM Study program as compared to the traditional approach revealed the following major differences (1) there is a decrease in emphasis of descriptive and factual material and an increase in emphasis of conceptual material; (2) material is introduced from an experimental standpoint rather than a historical one; (3) there is greater emphasis on in- depth study of theory and application in structure and bonding, kinetics, equilibrium, energy, entropy, and stoichiometry; (4) there is greater emphasis on open-ended, quantitative, student experimentation; (5) student experiments are an integral and necessary part or the course; and, (6) all tests are open book to emphasize application and interpretation as opposed to memorization. A comparison of teacher background indicated that the teacher who is using CHEM Study has more college preparation, 54.0 hours as compared to 41.3, and the teacher who is using the traditional approach is more experienced, 17.1 years as compared to 10.0. It was also noted that all of the teachers using CHEM Study have had a National Science Foundation institute in the philosophy and methodology of the approach. The search of college records yielded data for 107 students from the CHEM Study group and 168 students from the traditional group who had enrolled in one or more college chemistry courses. The data was sufficient to make comparisons for General Chemistry, Chemistry I, Chemistry II, Qualitative Analysis, General Organic, Organic I, Organic II, and Instrumental Analysis. A t-test for significance of difference between means showed no significant difference in achievement of the two groups, at a 5 per cent level of confidence, in General Chemistry, Chemistry I, Chemistry II, General Organic, Qualitative Analysis, and Organic II. The data for Organic I gave a calculated t value of 2.67 to compare with tabular values of 1.708, 2.485, and 2.787 at the 0.050, 0.010, and 0.005 levels or significance. It was noted the CHEM Study group is achieving significantly better than the traditional group with mean college grades of 3.40 and 2.18 on a four point scale. The data for Instrumental Analysis yielded a t value of 2.36 as compared with standard values of 1.943 and 2.447 at the 0.050 and 0.025 levels of significance. This difference was again significant in favor of the CHEM Study group with a mean of 3.50 as compared to 1.50 for the traditional group. The data for both Organic I and Instrumental Analysis is based on a small number of cases, twenty-seven, and eight respectively. The differences in achievement noted may not thus be extrapolateable to the population. Since both courses which indicate a difference were advanced courses, normally being preceded by at least two or three semesters of college chemistry, the difference may be attributable to factors other than the high school background of the student. The CHEM Study program has achieved its goal which was to provide an alternate approach to the teaching of high school chemistry. Whether or not that alternate is definitely superior to the traditional method has not been definitely established. The original hypothesis, “the null hypothesis states there will be no significant difference in the quality or preparation provided by the two mentioned approaches, as determined by a t-test”, has been accepted.


Seth Adams

Date of Award

Spring 1968

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1968 William Michael Quirk


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