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Measuring Student Learning of Crystal Structures Using Computer-based Visualizations

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Materials Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Materials

Page Count

27

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/30798

Download Count

183

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Paper Authors

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Susan P. Gentry University of California, Davis Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-4708-8818

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Dr. Susan P. Gentry is a Lecturer with Potential Security of Employment in the Materials Science and Engineering department at the University of California, Davis. In her current position at UC Davis, she is integrating computational modules into the undergraduate and graduate materials curriculum. She is specifically interested in students’ computational literacy and life-long learning of computational materials science tools.

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Tanya Faltens Purdue University, West Lafayette (Network for Computational Nanotechnology) Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4035-1908

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Tanya Faltens is the Educational Content Creation Manager for the Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN) which created the open access nanoHUB.org cyber-platform. Her technical background is in Materials Science and Engineering (Ph.D. UCLA 2002), and she has several years’ experience in hands-on informal science education, including working at the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley.

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William Ashwin Wheeler University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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William Wheeler is a graduate student in the Materials Science and Engineering department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests are in electronic structure theory and computational treatment of electron correlations in materials. In his teaching, he is interested in using questions and activities that enable students to explore materials and physics concepts independently.

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Andre Schleife University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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André Schleife is a Blue Waters Assistant Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He obtained his Diploma and Ph.D. at Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena, Germany for his theoretical work on transparent conducting oxides. Before he started at UIUC he worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on a project that aimed at a description of non-adiabatic electron ion dynamics. His research revolves around excited electronic states and their dynamics in various materials using accurate computational methods and making use of modern super computers in order to understand, for instance, how light is absorbed in photo-voltaic materials.

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Abstract

Crystal structures are foundational to many aspects of materials science, yet students often have difficulty visualizing geometrical relationships in even the simplest structures. For example, many students make errors when drawing the atomic arrangements on the (110) and (111) planes in the face-centered cubic (FCC) crystal structure. We previously reported on an active-learning lesson we designed that allows students to investigate crystal structures and atomic arrangements using a computer program, OVITO. The lesson is designed for a 50-minute introductory materials science course and consists of both individual and group activities. The first part is completed individually and requires students to identify planes and basic crystal structures, and then draw and rank the atomic densities of a given set of planes. The second part has students work together in small groups to visualize crystal structures using OVITO, repeating some questions from the first part. This lesson allowed many students to identify and correct mistakes in their initial drawings.

In this work, we categorize and quantify the most common mistakes that students make and investigate errors that seem harder for students to identify and correct. For example, missing atoms are commonly corrected by students, while there are persistent errors in sketching which atoms are (or are not) contiguous. Based on student responses in Fall 2016, we have revised the activity to more clearly emphasize the characteristics of a correct response, and have increased the scaffolding to guide students. Additionally, the revised activity is more focused than the original, allowing students to spend more time on the reflection portion of the activity. Student responses to similar questions are tracked throughout the academic term in various assignments and exams in order to determine the development and persistence of their learning gains.

Gentry, S. P., & Faltens, T., & Wheeler, W. A., & Schleife, A. (2018, June), Measuring Student Learning of Crystal Structures Using Computer-based Visualizations Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30798

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