Nicholls Chemistry Major Presents Research at National Conference

THIBODAUX, La. — A Nicholls State University Chemistry Major presented her research on the relationship between success in general chemistry and mathematics ability at the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting and Exposition. 

Claire Galloway, a sophomore chemistry major from Thibodaux, said the goal of her research is to promote retention and minimize attrition rates among students in general chemistry. Additionally, she sought to determine whether an online math intervention would increase a student’s performance in their introductory chemistry courses. 

Galloway used the Math Up Skills Test (MUST) – a 15-minute, 20-question paper exam which measures a student’s arithmetic fluency – and Test of Logical Thinking (TOLT) – a diagnostic test examining proficiency in formal reasoning – to monitor math fluency before and after the intervention. Galloway studied two groups across three sessions during the Fall 2020 semester, with one group completing the online math review first followed by a light chemistry review two weeks later, while the other group did the chemistry review first followed by the math review next. 

What she found was that the students benefited from the online math review. However, students with a higher logical ability benefited the most, and that the MUST had a marginal ability to predict each students’ success in a first-year chemistry class. 

“While our goal was to target students who had lower performance instead, we were still pleased to be helping students succeed,” she says. 

Founded in 1876 and chartered by the U.S. Government, the ACS boasts more than 151,000 members in 140 countries. The organization’s mission is to advance and broaden chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people. Every year, the organization offers a spring and fall meeting to bring together the world’s leading minds to network and share research. 

“I truly felt honored to be able to present. I remember how excited I was to tell my loved ones that I was going to be presenting at the American Chemical Society conference,” Galloway said. “I had been working with my advisor and other students throughout the year, and it was wonderful to see everything come together in the project. I love being able to help students, and I was ready to share a new way to identify those placed at-risk so that they can get the help they need.”

The ACS Fall 2021 Meeting was a hybrid conference held in Atlanta from Aug. 22-26. Galloway presented her poster virtually, along with other undergraduate researchers from across the country and the world.

“Claire is an excellent student and I am humbled that she is my undergraduate collaborator. Presenting at a conference expands Claire’s professional network. We look forward to presenting at in-person conferences in the near future,” said Dr. Theodore Alivio, assistant professor of chemistry and Galloway’s advisor. “Claire and I plan to continue and improve on our research so we can reach out to our students much more efficiently, especially those placed at risk. Our research teaches us how to better serve our students here at Nicholls and there’s a lot to improve on. We plan to present more of our work at future conferences, and get a few publications.”

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