HHMI Undergraduate Program Activities
Kenyon College 1997 Annual Program Report
At Kenyon College, all science departments will be using equipment and computer software purchased with HHMI grant funds to improve courses and laboratories. To determine the attitudes of students towards technology prior to the introduction of HHMI equipment, evaluation surveys were developed for use by the Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics departments at the end of the fall 1996 semester. Knowledge of student attitudes will help Kenyon faculty effectively implement HHMI purchased equipment in laboratory courses.
A total of 290 evaluation forms were returned, 66 from biology, 106 from chemistry, and 118 from mathematics. The biology students were enrolled in the first semester lab course, Introductory Experimental Biology, BIOL 9. The chemistry students were from the Organic Chemistry Laboratory I course, CHEM 33, and the two introductory level laboratory courses, Introduction to Experimental Chemistry I, CHEM 13, and Experimental Investigations of Molecular Structure and Reactivity, CHEM 17. Students in six mathematics courses were surveyed: MATH 6, Elements of Statistics; MATH 10, PreCalculus; MATH 11, MATH 12, MATH 21, the three semester calculus series; and MATH 29, Experimental Design and Analysis. The breakdown by course and equipment or computer program is shown in the accompanying table.
The survey questions varied by department, depending upon the goals for the use of the HHMI purchases. However, all the questions were answered on the basis of a rating scale. Students were asked to rate their level of agreement or strength of assessment, with 1 being the most negative response and 5 the most positive.
Drawing overarching conclusions from this evaluation must be done with caution because of the differences between departments and between courses within departments. The evaluation, an initial step in a lengthy process, does provide preliminary baseline data which hints at several intriguing trends. Students recognize the value and utility of using computers, software packages, and analytical technology. From their responses, it appears that they are comfortable using technology for performing basic tasks. However, the use of technology for the acquisition of higher level cognitive skills and abilities is a goal which has not yet been accomplished for some students. Additionally, in several courses, the number of students interested in future coursework and research seems low. Certainly, we need to have realistic expectations of students’ aspirations, realizing that not all will become science or mathematics majors. Nonetheless, the use of technology provided by HHMI has the potential to positively affect the educational process.
The survey questions used by the Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics departments are summarized in the following pages.
Department 
Course 
Equipment or Program 
Number of  
Classes 
Students 
Biology 
9: introduction to experimental biology 
Computers & Minitab 
5 
66 
Biology Total 
66 

Chemistry 
13: introductory lab 
Spectro 
1 
28 
Chemistry 
17: advanced introductory lab 
Spectro 
1 
21 
Chemistry 
17: advanced 
Chroma 
1 
20 
Chemistry 
33: organic lab 
Spectro 
1 
37 
Chemistry Total: 86 students, 106 evaluation forms 
106 

Mathematics 
6: basic statistics 
Minitab 
2 
39 
Mathematics 
10: precalculus 
Derive 
1 
12 
Mathematics 
11: calculus A 
Maple 
3 
38 
Mathematics 
12: calculus B 
2 
13 

Mathematics 
21: calculus C 
1 
11 

Mathematics 
29: experimental design & analysis 
SAS 
1 
5 
Mathematics Total 
118 
BIOLOGY
The biology survey questions asked students to think about how the use of computers and spreadsheet, statistical, and mapping programs affected their ability to design experiments, analyze data, and understand scientific concepts.
Students answered ten evaluation items by designating how strongly they agreed or disagreed with a statement about computer availability. A rating of 1 indicated strong disagreement and a rating of 5 strong agreement. The survey items began with the phrase "The availability of computers in the laboratory..." and ended with a phrase relating to a specific course objective (e.g., "...improved my understanding of how to organize data.").
Five classes of introductory biology students were surveyed, providing a maximum sample size of 66. The classes varied in size from 9 to 16.
Summary Observations. Most students report that basic abilities of working with spreadsheet, statistical, and graphing programs have been improved by the availability of computers in the laboratory. Many students indicate that abstract skills of interpreting, analyzing, and evaluating data have been positively affected by computer use. Some students have improved spatialanalysis skills and their understanding of biological concepts through using computers. Next year, HHMI support will double the computers available to introductory students and provide more tools for data analysis.
Note: Rating 4 = agreement; Rating 5 = strong agreement. Numbers shown = % of students who chose ratings of 4 and 5.
A. Most students agree that computers have improved their abilities work with statistical, spreadsheet, and graphing programs.
B. Many students agree that computers have improved their understanding and/or abilities of data organization, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation.
C. More than half the students agree that computers helped them interpret results and design experiments.
D. Slightly more than onethird of the students agree that computers have improved spatial analysis and understanding of DNA.
 end of the biology section 
CHEMISTRY
Evaluation questions, based on chemistry students’ experience with spectrophotometry and chromatography, inquired about the significance of these techniques as part of the laboratory experience. The students were also asked to assess the effects of using these methods on their understanding of chemical concepts and their interest in further study and research in chemistry.
Eightsix students in 3 different courses (introductory laboratory, advanced introductory laboratory, and organic laboratory) participated in the evaluation. Class sizes were 28, 21, and 37 respectively. A total of 106 surveys were returned because students in the advanced introductory laboratory completed two surveys, one for chromatography and one for spectrophotometry.
Students in the two introductory courses (Chem 13 and 17) evaluated the current semester’s experience. The organic students reflected on the use of spectrophotometry and chromatography in the previous year’s laboratory work. For each question, thepossible responses ranged from 1 = very negative to 5 = very positive. As an example, one item asked, "How important was using the Spectronic 20 to your understanding of energy absorption by molecules?" Responses were 1 = very unimportant through 5 = very important. Another asked, "Did Introductory Chemistry impact your decision to pursue research in Chemistry?" with responses 1 = not much through 5 = very much.
Summary Observations. Many students feel that the use of spectrophotometry and chromatography in the introductory laboratory is appropriate and makes the course more beneficial than other courses. About half of the students report that the effect of these methods on the understanding of concepts is positive. About half of the introductory students are interested in doing chemistry research. However, based on their experience with equipment currently available for spectrophotometry and chromatography, support for using these tools in research is not strong. Additionally, the organic students indicate that the introductory course did not influence them to do research, nor did the use of spectrophotometry and chromatography methods influence them to continue taking chemistry courses. As the Chemistry Department integrates new equipment provided by HHMI into courses, increased interest in these techniques is anticipated.
Note: Rating 4 = agreement; Rating 5 = strong agreement. Numbers shown = % of students who chose ratings of 4 and 5.
Chem 13, 17: Use of Spectronic 20 in the Introductory Lab
A. Most students indicate that the Spectronic 20 is appropriate in the introductory laboratory course. Nearly twothirds of the students report that use of the Spectronic 20 made the course beneficial and was important to their understanding of energy absorption.
B. Many of the introductory chemistry students are interested in taking further coursework in Chemistry. Nearly half are interested in doing chemistry research but only onefifth would chose to use the Spectronic 20 in their research.
Chem 17: Use of Chromatography in the Introductory Lab
A. Many students indicate that the use of chromatography is appropriate in the introductory laboratory course. Just under twothirds of the students report that use of chromatography made the course beneficial. Nearly half report that chromatography was important to their understanding of molecular interactions.
B. Many of the advanced introductory chemistry students are interested in taking further coursework in Chemistry. Over half are interested in doing chemistry research and half would chose to use chromatography in their research.
Chem 33: Organic Students’ Evaluation of the Introductory Laboratory
A. Slightly over half of the students report that using chromatography in the introductory chemistry course was important to their understanding of chemistry concepts presented in the organic laboratory. Almost half feel that the use of spectrophotometry was also important.
B. Approximately onequarter of the students report that introductory chemistry had an impact on their decision to pursue chemistry research. Less than onefifth report that the use of spectrophotometry and chromatography affected future research decisions.
 end of the chemistry section 
MATHEMATICS
The mathematics survey questions asked the students to assess the relevance of using Minitab, Maple, Derive, and SAS in mathematics courses and the effects of these programs on their interest in further coursework and research.
Ten classes of mathematics students representing six courses (statistics, precalculus, calculus A, calculus B, calculus C, and experimental design/analysis) were surveyed, providing a maximum sample size of 118. The classes varied in size from 5 to 21.
The same six basic questions were asked of each class, although items were modified depending upon the course and computer program employed. Students answered by indicating how strongly they felt about each item, with 1 = very negative and 5 = very positive. As an example, one question asked "How interested are you in doing research in Mathematics in the future?" The possible responses ranged from 1 indicating very uninterested to 5 signifying very interested.
Summary observations. Two overall observations can be made from the mathematics survey: A large majority of students in all courses reported that the use of computer programs is appropriate and most feel that learning to use the programs is important. Furthermore, if students were going to do mathematics research, they would prefer to use computers and appropriate software. This need will be addressed by use of HHMI support to update and expand our computer lab for math classes.
Note: Rating 4 = agreement; Rating 5 = strong agreement. Numbers shown = % of students who chose ratings of 4 and 5.
Math 29: Experimental Design & Analysis Using SAS
A. All the students in the experimental design & analysis course responded positively to the questions about the appropriateness, importance, and benefit of using SAS.
B. Most of the students in design & analysis are interested in doing research using computer technology and many are interested in taking additional mathematics courses. Less than half responded positively about their interest in doing research.
Math 11, 12, 21: Calculus A, B, C using Maple
A. More than half of the students in the calculus courses responded positively to the questions about the appropriateness and importance of using Maple. Just under onethird of the students indicate that the Maple course was more beneficial than other courses.
B. Over half of the calculus students are interested in taking additional mathematics courses. Over onequarter of the students are interested in participating in mathematics research, with an equal number interested in research using computer technology.
Math 10: Precalculus using Derive
A. All the students in the precalculus course responded positively to the question about the appropriateness of using Derive. A majority of students reported that Derive was important. Slightly less than half of the students indicate that Derive was more beneficial than other courses.
B. Onequarter of the students in basic statistics are interested in taking additional mathematics courses. The level of interest in participating in mathematics research is not high, although doing research using computer technology received more positive responses.
Math 6: Basic Statistics using Minitab
A. Nearly all the students in the basic statistics course responded positively to the question about the appropriateness of using Minitab. Many students also report that Minitab was important and beneficial.
B. Approximately onethird of the students in basic statistics are interested in taking additional mathematics courses and in doing research using computer technology. The general level of interest in participating in mathematics research is not high.
 end of the mathematics section 
 end of the evaluation summary 