Sawrey, Barbara
Chemical education: development of computer-based multimedia to assist student learning of complex scientific processes and concepts

Contact Information
Distinguished Teaching Professor

Office: Urey Hall Addn
1983 Ph.D., Jointly from University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University
1982 M.A., San Diego State University
1973 B.S., Baldwin-Wallace College
Awards and Academic Honors
American Chemical Society Award for Encouraging Women in the Chemical Sciences
UCSD Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award
Research Interests
Our research is focused on (1) how to promote meaningful learning in college science teaching, i.e., how to assist students to store more information in a memorable, readily usable fashion, and (2) how to facilitate the development of effective problem solving skills. Specifically, we investigate the role interactive, computer-based multimedia packages can play in learning and how effective they are as tools to encourage the understanding of complex scientific processes and concepts. We study the impact of a systematic, computer-based representation of a scientific topic on a student's learning and recall of that topic.

To accomplish our goals, we develop curriculum software that adds a visual dimension to the teaching of science, allowing students to visualize events happening on the microscopic and molecular level. For instance, in the software module titled "Spectrophotometry" students can explore the interaction of light and matter, follow the mathematical derivation of Beer's Law, and practice the operation of a UV-visible virtual spectrophotometer using an on-screen working model. At all times, students using the software are in control of the pace and path. They determine the extent of interactivity with which they are comfortable.

Primary Research Area
Chemical Education
Interdisciplinary interests

Selected Publications