VisChem: visualising the molecular world for a deep understanding of chemistry concepts

First Year
Guided activity, Lecture, Video / Audio
Chemistry, Electrochemistry, General Chemistry, Inorganic chemistry, Physical chemistry
Western Sydney University
Mar 2023

The VisChem site involves animations and movies on YouTube, a video and text description of the VisChem Learning Design, and two research publications.

All the relevant documentation is also available on the VisChem website.

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About this resource


The VisChem resource is a combination of a suite of molecular animations freely available to students, with narrated educator’s versions, and a research-informed learning design for using them most effectively for learning.


Variable, educator’s choice

Pedagogical backing


VisChem resources are designed to target the sub-micro thinking level in Johnstone’s triangle. Each animation has a number of key features designed for transfer to other substances and reactions. The cognitive research informed VisChem learning design shows how to prepare the learner for the visualisation, and build on the experience to transfer the ideas. An IMPORTANT recommendation is to use the molecular animations often THROUGHOUT the course, and in later courses, for familiarity.

How is the resource used

These VisChem learning objects can be used in F-2-F teaching or in online learning resources. I used them in prelab preparation to encourage students to link observations to molecular-level phenomena

Student evaluation

I used the VisChem animations for 15 years (2000 – 2015) at first-year level. The research we did has been published, and resulted in the VisChem learning design to minimise cognitive load and motivate students to care about the detail.
The VisChem resources were favourably received by adopters of the university-level textbook Chemistry: Human Activity, Chemical Reactivity I co-authored with Bob Bucat and Peter Mahaffy.


The VisChem animations were designed by Roy Tasker in collaboration with Bob Bucat (UWA), Ray Sleet (UTS), and Bill Chia (UWS) in the early 1990s. Rebecca Dalton (UWS) and Debbie Corrigan (Monash) implemented them in teaching contexts and studied their effectiveness.The original animations were produced by Stefan Markworth with assistance from David Hegarty’s team at CADRE design, a multimedia production company.

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