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Weinrich, Melissa

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General Chemistry has a high DFWI rate, disproportionately impacting students of marginalized identities (Anderson & Kim, 2006). This research investigates the hypothesis that the impacts of stereotype threat and imposter syndrome could be moderated by sharing with others through a pen pal activity. This embedded mixed method study recruited participants who were general chemistry students at a public university in the Rocky Mountain region over two years (n= 264). Participant affect was measured using the Measure of Chemistry Identity (Hosbein & Barbera, 2020), Theories of Intelligence Scale (Dweck, 2000), Chemistry Attitudes and Experiences-Self Efficacy (Dalgety et al., 2003), and general belonging (Fink et al., 2020). Additionally, student performance was judged using the American Chemical Society Toledo Exam and their final percentage grade in general chemistry lecture. Students participated in interventions throughout one 16-week semester and their writings were analyzed. There was no observable impact on student grades or affect due to participation in the pen pal style interventions. Baseline differences in affect measures persisted throughout the semester. Documents generated by participants showed that time management was a large learning opportunity for all students. However, it was frequently complicated by large employment demands and difficulty adapting study habits to college classes. These concerns impact students of lower socioeconomic status and those who did not have access to rigorous high school science classes. We applied Schlossberg's (1981) transition theory from clinical psychology to describe how these students navigated the transition to college. This description included students’ situation, self, support, and strategies. Student success in general chemistry requires personal development rooted in the principles of transition theory. This view supports the reform of university STEM department and classroom cultures in line with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives.


230 pages

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