Kennesaw State Professors Awarded Federal Grant for the Improvement of Chemistry Education

 Dr. Adriane Randolph
Dr. Adriane Randolph

KENNESAW, GA (Nov 13, 2017) — Dr. Adriane Randolph (Department of Information Systems) and Dr. Kimberly Linenberger Cortes (Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry) in collaboration with faculty at University of Minnesota Rochester received a grant from the National Science Foundation for $258,129, with $183,525 coming to KSU, for their research investigating how to better design 3D modeling activities in chemistry. Drs. Randolph and Cortes were among approximately 11,000 of those selected this year across the nation for an NSF award.  This endowment will allow the professors to determine the mental faculties needed to process and understand information offered by virtual and physical 3D models in chemistry and biochemistry courses. Drs. Randolph and Cortes, using the findings of this study, hope to offer evidence-based suggestions to chemistry educators that will assist in producing a more efficient and productive strategy for 3D model development and consumption. The project will give instructors awareness of students’ maximum capacity for learning chemistry material, therefore empowering them the instructors to decrease the frustrations involved in not knowing what to take away from these innovative modeling practices. As per the grant, the team will also be involved in implementing these strategies in a classroom setting with the goal of increased student understanding.


Research will track what students pay attention to and how they cognitively process the 3D modeling activities using neurophysiological tools, including electroencephalography (EEG). This expands on previous literature by utilizing analysis methods that are directly relevant to neurological processes (i.e., cognitive load) and applying these findings with the goal of improving chemistry education by aiding in student comprehension.  Through the parallel usage of EEG and eye gaze-tracking capabilities, this study will also contribute to the relative lack of knowledge regarding the summative contributions of these devices, benefitting the information systems (IS) community.

For Co-PI Randolph, this work directly relates to her use of neurophysiological tools at the KSU BrainLab to investigate neuro-IS and her development of a tool to measure real-time changes in cognitive load.  This investigation of evolving brains directly parallels the project’s investigation of how biochemistry students respond to changes in curriculum. In addition, together with members of the Tech3Lab at HEC Montreal, Randolph has investigated use of EEG-based brain-computer interface (BCI) tools to capture real-time measures of cognitive load. This project helps her gain further insights into measuring cognitive load using neurophysiological tools.

Biographies of PIs

Adriane Randolph, the Co-PI for this project, is an Associate Professor of Information Systems at Kennesaw State University and founder and executive director of the BrainLab. Her research of over 15 years focuses on brain-computer interface systems that reflect varying cognitive states. She has experience working with various neurophysiological tools including EEG and eye-tracking. She is a founding member of the BCI Society and member of various other professional associations for computing and information systems.

Kimberly Linenberger Cortes, the Co-PI for this project, is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Kennesaw State University. She has 10 years of experience investigating and measuring undergraduate students’ understanding of chemical representations utilizing both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. In addition to teaching general chemistry and biochemistry courses, she teaches multiple courses on educational assessment, modeling, and visual literacy.