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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 14 Issue 2 (2009) pp 85-93

Student Attitudes and Learning Outcomes from Process Oriented Guided-Inquiry Learning (POGIL) Strategy in an Introductory Chemistry Course for Non-science Majors: An Action Research Study

Nithya Rajan* and Leanne Marcus

Department of Chemistry, DePaul University, Chicago, IL 60614,
Received May 16, 2007. Accepted March 17, 2009.

Published online: 1 April 2009

Abstract. This paper describes the effects of implementing the Process-Oriented Guided-Inquiry Learning (POGIL) strategy in an introductory chemistry class for non-science majors. Student attitudes and learning outcomes were compared between a traditionally taught section and POGIL implemented section using attitudinal survey questionnaires and content assessments as measurement tools. Qualitative data from open-ended student questionnaires and comments were analyzed in an effort to cross-validate findings from different methods. Content materials, test format, scheduling and grading were controlled for both sections. Results from ANOVA, t tests and ANCOVA indicated that compared to the control group, students in the POGIL group: (a) ended with significantly more positive attitudes relating to group work and communication, and (b) showed significant gains in the final content assessment, especially in the areas of information retention and conceptual understandings. Despite these positive learning outcomes, students in the POGIL group were more critical of the instructional strategies used and did not self-report greater gains in conceptual knowledge, problem solving or critical thinking skills at the end of the course than did students in the control group. This lack of association between student perceptions of ability and their performance in the course and the negative comments made about the instructional strategy indicate that some students are uncomfortable with the role of the instructor as a facilitator of learning in the POGIL strategy. Finally, the positive attitudinal effects of the POGIL method did not include more positive perceptions about science and chemistry. The findings of this action research study support the use of nontraditional methods of instruction for nonscience majors, but suggest that there are barriers to student perceptions of gain that still need to be addressed.

Key Words: Research in Teaching and Learning; POGIL

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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Issue date: April 1, 2009

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