Department of Chemistry
A headshot

Vickie Bentley-Williamson
Instructional Professor

Department of Chemistry
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-3255

P: 979-845-4634
F: 979-862-3308

Researcher ID

Web Sites Areas of Interest
  • Chemical Education Research and Practice

Current Activities

Chemical education is one of the divisions recognized by the American Chemical Society. 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, for example observation. Equally important to the process is drawing meaning 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. In my classes, special emphasis is put on use of multiple presentation modes, representing chemical phenomena in terms of particulate, symbolic, mathematical and laboratory or concrete characteristics. I have experience teaching general chemistry, graduate chemistry education courses, and undergraduate education courses.

In addition to teaching in the first year chemistry program, I do chemical education research (CER). 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. I have worked with graduate students in chemistry education and undergraduate research assistants. My specific research areas are listed below.

Research Activities

My research interests include the development and/or testing of:

  1. methods to enhance the students' understanding of the particulate nature of matter through visualization, such as animations, visual aids, augmented reality applications, and conceptual problems. This understanding may be lacking in many students who have trouble creating mental models of the phenomena
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. methods that engage students in lecture and recitation sessions such as demonstration quizzes, problem solving with cooperative groups, multimedia, or interactive computer supplements.
  5. an integrated lecture and laboratory course. Hands-on, inquiry laboratories that drive the discussions in lecture could help achieve this.
  6. factors that impact student grades in general chemistry, including research into the use of mathematical fluency to predict chemistry scores.

Educational Background

B.S., Natural Science (Chemistry Emphasis), University of Central Oklahoma

M.S., Chemistry (Chemical Education), University of Oklahoma

Ph.D., Science Education (Chemical Education), University of Oklahoma

Selected Awards & Recognition

  • University Professorship in Undergraduate Teaching Excellence, Texas A&M University, 2018-2021.
  • Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award (OUSTA), from the Society for College Science Teachers, 2017.
  • American Chemical Society Fellow, awarded for contributions to science and service to the organization in August 2015.
  • American Chemical Society Award for Achievement in Research for the Teaching and Learning of Chemistry, awarded for cutting-edge contributions in chemical education research on the visualization of the particulate nature of matter in March 2015.
  • Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching- University Level. The Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University, 2014.
  • Awardee for Student-Led Award for Teaching Excellence (SLATE), Texas A & M University, Fall 2009
  • College Board Advanced Placement® Best Practices Course, 2006. My course identified as an example of best practices in a national study of 166 courses conducted by the Center of Educational Policy Research on behalf of the College Board.
  • Distinguished Achievement College-Level Award in Teaching for the College of Science. The Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University, 2003.
  • Fish Camp Namesake, Freshman Orientation Camp Elections, Texas A&M University, 2001.

Selected Publications

  • Williamson, V.M.; Walker, D.R.,;Chuu, E.; Broadway, S.; Mamiya, B.; Powell, C.B.; Shelton, G.R.; Weber, R.; Dabney,. A.R.; & Mason, D. (2019). Impact of basic arithmetic skills on success in first-semester general chemistry. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, Advance Article.
  • Cosio, M.N., & Williamson, V.M. (2019). Timing of homework completion vs. performance in general chemistry. Journal of Science Education and Technology, Online first article
  • Albaladejo, J. DP.; Broadway, S., Mamiya, B.; Petros, A.; Powell, C. B.; Shelton, G. R.; Walker, D. R.; Weber, R.; Williamson, V. M.; Mason, D. (2018). ConfChem Conference on Mathematics in Undergraduate Chemistry Instruction: MUST-Know Pilot Study—Math Preparation Study from Texas. Journal of Chemical Education95, 1428-1429.
  • Williamson, V.M., & Zumalt, C.J. (2017). How do general chemistry students' impressions, attitudes, perceived learning, and course performance vary with the arrangement of homework questions and E-text? Chemistry Education Research and Practice,
  • Williamson, K.C., Williamson, V.M., Hinze, S. (2017). Administering spatial and cognitive instruments in-class and on-line: Are these equivalent? Journal of Science Education and Technology, 26, 12-23.

Selected Curriculum Publications

  • Williamson, V.M., Peck, M.L., & McCann, K. (2018). Experiences in Chemistry: Inquiry and Skill Building, 3rd Edition, Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing.
  • Williamson, V.M. & Peck, M.L. (2014). Experiences in Chemistry: Inquiry and Skill Building, 2nd Edition, Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing.
  • Williamson, V.M. (2012). Instructor's Manual for Whitten, Davis, Peck, and Stanley's General Chemistry, 10th ed., Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing.
  • Williamson, V. (Chair); Jose, T.; Kelly, R.; Kimbrough, D.; Langdon, L.; Lewis, S.; Lewis, J.; March, J.; Mason, D.; Milne, R.; Monteyne, K.; Nakhleh, M.; Robinson, B.; Sanger, M.; Schneider, J.; Shih, S.; Yezierski, E. (2008). 2008 ACS Conceptual General Chemistry Examination. Milwaukee, WI, ACS Division of Chemical Education Examinations Institute.
  • Williamson, V.M. & Peck, M.L. (2007). Inquiry-Based Laboratories for Liberal Arts Chemistry, Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing.

Invited Seminars, Talks, & Workshops

  • Visualizing Chemistry Concepts, Seminar Speaker, Chemistry Department, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, October 4, 2017.
  • Chemistry Digital User Summit, Integrated Homework and Textbook, Speaker, San Francisco, CS, August 4, 2017.
  • The Case for Electronic Homework, Speaker, Blinn College, Bryan, TX, March 3, 2017.
  • Techniques to Help Students Build Mental Models for Conceptual Learning and Visualization, invited 1.5-hour session at the college faculty development session, Galveston College, Galveston, TX, January 6, 2017.
  • Teaching Chemistry with Visualizations: Research and Techniques, Seminar for the Chemistry Department, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX, October 3, 2016.