Dr. Jack Barbera, Associate Professor

School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Campus Box 98 Greeley, CO 80639

contact info:(office)Ross Hall 3576, 970.351.2545, (email) jack.barbera@unco.edu

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Chemistry Education Research Group: Spring 2014 (last updated January 2014)



Dr. Jack Barbera

Current collaborations

1) Dr. Tom Penetecost at Grand Valley State University: projects focusing on the use of Item Response Theory, specifically Rasch analysis, for the development and evalaution of assessment instruments.

2) Dr. Jennifer Lewis at the University of South Florida and Dr. Michael Phillips at the University of Northern Colorado: projects focusing on assessing student motivation within science education including the evaluation and development of motivation-based instruments.

3) Dr. Steven Pulos at the University of Northern Colorado: projects focusing on evaluating the psychometric properties of various chemistry content assessment instruments.

Click Here for Dr. Barbera's CV


Current Group Members

Brent Ferrell

Chemical Education Doctoral Program

Brent started in the Barbera research group in Fall 2012. In collaboration with the Lewis group at the University of South Florida, he is working on an investigation of student motivation through the lens of Self-Determination Theory and the Academic Motivation Scale.

Brent completed a Master's in Biochemistry with Dr. Yinan Wei at the University of Kentucky prior to starting in the Chemical Education program at UNC.

Victor Kiryak

Chemical Education Doctoral Program

Victor's project sets out to evaluate students' working knowledge of specific General Chemistry concepts when entering Organic Chemistry. As several of these concepts are built upon in Organic Chemistry, it is important to understand which concepts students grasp and which they have not. Victor's study began by interviewing several chemistry faculty who regularly teach General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, or both. These interviews are used to identify which topics are built upon as well as the match (or mismatch) between the various instructors expectations.

Victor completed a Master's in Synthetic/Photochemistry with Dr. Thomas H. Kinstle at Bowling Green State University prior to starting in the Chemical Education program at UNC.


Travis Knowles

Chemical Education Doctoral Program

Travis' research efforts are focused on using eye tracking as a novel method for assessing various aspects of measurement. His project will investiagate option order effects and students' use of data and representations when responding to items. His project will also investigate how we measure the spatial ability of students.

Travis completed a Master's in Chemistry at the University of Denver, with research efforts focused in the area of enantioselective catalysis.

Ashley Neybert

Honor's Undergraduate Researcher

Ashley is doing her Honor's Thesis project in Chemistry Education. She is investigating faculty and student expectations regarding the first-semester general chemistry laboratory course based on the broad distribution of majors enrolled in the course.

Ashley is a double major in Biology and Chemistry and also does laboratory-based research in the Biology department.

Past Group Members

Dr. David Wren

David graduated with his PhD in Chemical Education in August 2013.

David's project entails the development of a thermochemistry concept inventory. His project utilzes a development protocol where question and distractor ideas stem from think-aloud student interviews. David will use this data to construct a pilot instrument that will be adminstered to a large number of General Chemistry students. Pilot data will be used to guide edits to the instrument by the use ofthe Rasch measurement model.

David completed a Master's in Biochemistry with Dr. Amy Palmer at CU-Boulder prior to starting in the Chemical Education program at UNC.

David is currently a faculty member at Wake Forest University.

Paul Schwartz

Paul graduated with his MS in Chemical Education in December 2013.

Paul's project involves an analysis of the Chemistry Concepts Inventory, which was developed in 2002 at Purdue University. He is looking specifically at the item functioning and student reasoning for responses. This quantitative and qualitative project will add to the published pyschometric properties for the instrument.

Paul completed his undergraduate chemistry degree at Manhattan College.

After leaving UNC, Paul obtained his teaching licensure and is currently a chemistry teacher at Crosby High School in Waterbury Connecticut.

Dr. Corina Brown

Corina graduated with her PhD in Chemical education in August 2013.

Corina's project entails the development of a General, Organic, and Biological (GOB) Chemistry concept inventory geared towards the most important topics related to nursing practice. Corina's study began by interviewing a series of "experts" regarding which Chemistry topics were most important. This expert panel consisted of chemists, practicing nurses, and nurse educators. The set of agreeded upon important topics informed a pilot instrument containing 67 items. Corina is now in the process of using Classical Test Theory to evaluate and edit the items into a working instrument.

Corina complete a Master's in Biochemistry with Dr. Aichun Dong here at UNC prior to starting in our Chemical Education program.

Corina is currently an instructor at the University of Northern Colorado.

Dr. Jodie Wasacz

Jodie graduated with her PhD in Chemical Education in May 2010.

Her thesis project involved research on the correlations between student sucess in Organic Chemistry and their preconceived notions regarding the course. An additional side study also investigated the predictability of a student's final grade based on early semester performance.

Jodie completed a Master's in Organic chemistry with Dr. Kimberly Pacheco here at UNC prior to starting in our Chemical Education program.

Jodie is currently a faculty member at Mount Saint Mary College.