Learning chemistry using web-based interaction

First Year
Assessment, Guided activity, Problem set, Tutorial
Analytical chemistry, Chemistry, Electrochemistry, General Chemistry, Inorganic chemistry, Materials Chemistry, Medicinal Chemistry, Organic chemistry, Physical chemistry
University of Auckland
Jun 2021

300 web-based interactive learner-friendly activities dealing with chemical concepts introduced in high school and at first year university.

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About this resource


The Demo course on the BestChoice web site is a collection of 330 interactive activities designed to foster learning of chemistry at both high school and first year university level. Each activity has information pages and question pages where responses generate instructive feedback both to help users correct wrong answers and extend users who have entered correct answers. The Demo course has 4000 answers to be entered or chosen.


20 minutes per activity

Pedagogical backing


The activities were modelled on a one-on-one tutorial with a subject expert who introduces concepts and then probes learner understanding with questions and gives instructive feedback. Prior learning is established through introductory questions before developing detailed gradual introduction to new concepts and strategies employed by experts to analyze chemical systems. The intention was for these activities either to be self-teaching or act to as a bridge between the classroom and unsupported problem-solving.

How is the resource used

These activities have been used as support for both large and small classes and for both on-site and on-line courses in the form of homework. Because the activities are self-contained, they can also be used as a self-teaching.

Student evaluation

The evaluation described below is based on data from 340 000 users of BestChoice during its lifetime (50% New Zealand High School 25% New Zealand universities and 25% UK high schools). These users have entered 175 million correct answers (45% NZ Universities, 55% NZ UK High Schools).

BestChoice activities are subject to on-going evaluation from the time that they are posted. This is based on both on the end-of-activity surveys completed by a subset of users and analysis of question response data entered by all users.

The survey invites users to indicate their opinion of the activity (1-6 maximum Likert scale) and to enter a comment. 330 000 Likert responses have been entered over the lifetime of BestChoice. 38% of these are the maximum satisfaction. 80% are positive (4,5,6). 80 000 comments have been entered. These are classified by the user. The 80% that were positive include compliments, suggestions, pointing out bugs or typographical errors. 20% were criticisms. The survey has been a very rich source of feedback, and many of the suggestions have been implemented either in modification of the activities or the system that delivers them.

The question response data for each activity are studied from the time the activity is posted. These data include percentage correct on first entry and wrong answers entered. Activities are modified accordingly by, for example entering additional feedback or another information page, or changing question wording until the activity meets our guidelines of 70% of students completing and 70-80% of students entering correct answers the first time.

The increase in the percentage of the maximum rate in the Likert responses indicates the success of responding in this way to student feedback. 30% of users chose the maximum rating during the period 2003-2012. 47% choose the maximum rating in the period from 2013 to the present.

We are pleased to have developed a system that so actively involves the students in the development of materials designed to teach them.


Dr Sheila Woodgate (retired The University of Auckland) sheila@bestchoice.net.nz

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