My training is in chemical education, one of the divisions recognized by the American Chemical Society. In addition to teaching in the 101-102 chemistry program, I teach graduate-level chemical education courses. These courses are of two types; those for graduate chemical education students and those for teachers. My research area is in chemical education, research, which is inseparable from teaching. Chemical education research involves: (a) the development of teaching strategies and/or curriculum and the testing of the relative effectiveness of the strategy or curriculum via statistical analysis and (b) investigations into the nature of the student-learner in our chemistry classes. My specific research areas are listed below.
An instructor's philosophy of how students learn should directly impact his/her philosophy of teaching. As a teacher, my job is to facilitate student learning. I believe that learning is an active process in which the individual builds or constructs meaning from experiences and events which must be integrated into their existing conceptual frameworks. This is constructivism to some, but I had rather explain my philosophy than to use a "buzz word" that might convey misconceptions. I believe that students learn best from direct experience. At primary grades, direct experience with concrete objects is required. As we mature, this direct experience can take more abstract forms. Equally important to the process is drawing meaning from this direct experience through discussion and reflection. Last is the integration of the new idea or meaning with our existing understandings. These ideas are well-represented by a learning cycle or inquiry approach, in which students gather data about a phenomenon, draw generalizations, and apply or extend the generalizations in other contexts. I work with TA training to help the implementation of inquiry-based laboratories.
I have served as a Chemical Education Research Feature Editor for the Journal of Chemical Education since 2002. Through this position, I evaluate studies for research design, data analysis, etc. I was nominated and elected to the national American Chemical Society, Division of Chemical Education Research Committee for two consecutive terms (2000-2005). This committee encourages research in chemical education and sets national policy for chemical education research at both the masters and Ph. D. levels. I have served on two American Chemical Society examination committees, charged with the writing and testing of standardized examinations that are used internationally. I am currently a member of the 2006 General Chemistry Blended Exam committee and was an author of the 2001 Conceptual General Chemistry Examination. I am currently working with the National Science Foundataion to evaluate the minigrants given at the Gordon Research Conference on Visualization and Science Education. I have worked with a number of students in our Masters? in Chemical Education, directing the chemical education research projects for the degrees.
My research interests include the development and/or testing of:
- methods to enhance the students' understanding of the particulate nature of matter through visualization, such as animations, visual aids, and conceptual problems. This understanding may be lacking in many students who have trouble creating mental models of the phenomena
- methods to promote both conceptual learning and problem solving. One of these learning types is often emphasized to the exclusion of the other. Conceptual assessments may promote more attention to conceptual learning.
- inquiry or discovery laboratories for general chemistry. The exact role of the laboratory in instruction is an interest, especially since constructivist learning theory supports the idea that concrete experiences are vital to novice students.
- methods that engage students in lecture and recitation sessions such as demonstration quizzes, problem solving with cooperative groups, multimedia, or interactive computer supplements.
- an integrated lecture and laboratory course. Hands-on, inquiry laboratories that drive the discussions in lecture could help achieve this.
Ph. D., Science Education (Chemical Education), University of Oklahoma
Awards & Recognition
- Fish Camp Namesake, Freshman Orientation Camp, Texas A&M University, 2001
- College of Science Distinguished Teaching Award, 2003
- Member, Texas A & M Reagents? Initiative, Academy for Educator Development, (2000 induction)
- Jose, T.J. & Williamson, V.M. (2005) "Molecular Visualization in Science Education: An Evaluation of the NSF" - Funded Workshop, Journal of Chemical Education. 82 (6), 937-943.
- Velazquez-Marcano, A, Williamson, V.M., Ashkenazi, G, Tasker, R, Williamson, K.C. (2004). "The Use of Video Demonstrations and Particulate Animation in the General Chemistry", Journal of Science Education and Technology, 13 (3), 315-323.
- Williamson, V.M., Huffman, J., & Peck, M.L. (2004). "Testing student's use of the particulate theory", Journal of Chemical Education, 81 (6), 891-896.
- Williamson, V.M. & Rowe, M.W. (2002). "Group problem solving versus lecture in college-level quantitative analysis: The good, the bad, and the ugly", Journal of Chemical Education. 79 (9), 1131-1134.
- Williamson, V.M., & Abraham, M.R. (1995). "The effects of computer animation on the particulate mental models of college chemistry students", Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 32 (5), 521-534.
Selected Curriculum Publications
- Williamson, V.M. (2004). "Instructor's Manual for Whitten, Davis, Peck, and Stanley's General Chemistry", 7 ed., Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing
- Peck, M.L., & Williamson, V.M. (2002-2004). "Experiences in Chemistry: Inquiry and Skill Building-II (1st-3rd Edition)", Plymouth, MI: Hayden-McNeil Publishing, Inc.
- Bauer, C.F, Birk, J; Bowen, C.; Bracken, J.D; Brooks, K; Foxman, B; Francisco, J; Frank, D.; Gammon, S.D.; Kimbrough, D; LaPorte, M; Lewis, E; March, J; Metz, P.; Nurrenbern, S.; Phelps, A.; Robinson, B; Russell, J.; Sawrey, B.; Williamson, V.; Wink, D. (2001). 2001 "ACS Conceptual General Chemistry Examination", Clemson, S.C., ACS Division of Chemical Education Examinations Institute
- Williamson, V.M., & Kennicutt, W. (1999). "Holt Chemfile Interactive Tutor" [a chemistry CD for high school students], Austin, TX: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
- Hovde, R, Shea, T., Shook, S. Williamson, V.M., et. al. (1999). "Integrated Science, Mathematics, and Technology: Peoria, IL: Glencoe Publishing", ( 4 volumes: Food Production, Waste Management., Wellness, and Energy Transformations, including Teacher Edition, Student Edition, and Student Journal)
Invited Seminars, Talks, & Workshops
- The Quest to Improve Student Understanding: Current Research Findings. Seminar speaker, Department of Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, February, 2005
- How to Ace Freshman Chemistry. Seminar Speaker, Genetics and Biochemistry Enrichment Experience, Texas A&M University, September 2003
- Using the OWL electronic homework system. Seminar speaker, Chemistry Division, Blinn College, May 2003
- Using the OWL electronic homework system. Seminar speaker, Department of Chemistry, Prairie View University, February 2003
- The Quest to Improve Student Understanding: Research findings on visualizations, Verbalizations, and Group Problem Solving. Seminar speaker, Department of Chemistry, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, October 24, 2002
- The Quest to Improve Student Understanding: Research findings on visualizations, Verbalizations, and Group Problem Solving. Seminar speaker, Department of Chemistry, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, October 4, 2002
- What is an Academic Leader? Keynote speaker at the General O.R. Simpson Corps Honor Society Induction Banquet, December 5, 2001