An Investigation in the Awareness of Desirable Difficulties in Undergraduate Chemistry Courses

First Advisor

Thomas Pentecost


desirable difficulties, undergraduate students, undergraduate faculty, chemistry, studying strategies



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A deeper learning can be achieved through the use of desirable difficulties. Incorporating the ideas of testing v. restudying, spacing v. massing, interleaving v. blocking, and varying conditions of learning into studying practices can create a beneficial cognitive challenge. This study explores the extent to which professors and students in college chemistry courses recommend/utilize desirable difficulties. Cognitive interviews were conducted with chemistry faculty while a survey that was constructed after existing surveys was given to current chemistry students. Preliminary results suggest that students understand that studying strategies employing desirable difficulties would lead to more learning, but choose to use less effective practices. The cognitive interviews suggest that professors are not aware of the significance that incorporating desirable difficulties into instruction and self-regulated study could have on their students’ learning.