Student perspectives on three-dimensional representations of molecules

Information for participants


Ellen Phiddian, Honours student at the Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, ANU

Project title

Student perspectives on three-dimensional representations of molecules

General outline of the project

This project aims to examine student perceptions of the tools used to teach chemistry. The survey will use four short questions to determine which molecular representations students use, value and are influenced by.

The survey will be completed online by roughly 150 first and second year ANU chemistry students.

The data will be used in the researcher's Honours thesis, presented in an end-of-year seminar, and potentially submitted for academic publication.

Participant involvement

This survey is completely voluntary. You are under no obligations to answer all or any of the questions, and you may withdraw at any time up until you have submitted your answers, at which point I will not be able to re-identify your data.

The survey consists of three short questions that examine how you have been taught chemistry in the past, and which methods you thought most effective. I am specifically interested in knowing about the different three-dimensional molecular representations you have used and how these have affected your studies. The questionnaire will take under ten minutes to complete.

At the end of the survey you will be asked if you wish to further participate in the research by participating in an hour-long focus group in mid-May. This is also voluntary and separate to the survey- you may complete the questionnaire without any requirement to join the focus group.

The survey is online and will take approximately ten minutes to complete.

This research contributes to the body of information that attempts to understand how 3D models can overcome difficulties in teaching chemistry. There is an enormous number of images, objects and programs now available to better explain how molecules interact. This research will help to determine which models students value and thus shed some light on how future generations of chemists practise and communicate chemistry. You will not benefit directly from the research, however it may also have some effect on the way you are taught chemistry in the next few years.

Exclusion criteria

You must be over 18 years of ages to participate in this survey.


Completion of the survey is deidentified. You may add your email address if you wish to participate in further study, but this data will be kept completely separate from your answers. Only the named researchers and members of the ANU Surveys and Evaluations Team will have access to the raw data.

Data storage

Hard copy data files of the survey results will be stored in the researcher's work office under lock and key at ANU for up to five years after the conclusion of the project. Electronic data will be stored securely on a password protected computer throughout the study and then electronically stored at ANU for up to five years. No data will be released in raw form. Raw data will be destroyed within five years after the conclusion of the project, 31 December 2021.

Queries and concerns

If you have any further queries or concerns, please contact:
Ellen Phiddian (Primary Investigator)
Telephone: 0422 932 683

Dr Merryn McKinnon (Supervisor)
Telephone: +61 2 6125 4951

Ethics Committee Clearance

The ethical aspects of this research have been approved by the ANU Human Research Ethics Committee. If you have any concerns or complaints about how this research has been conducted, please contact:

Ethics Manager
The ANU Human Ethics Research Ethics Committee
The Australian National University
Telephone: +61 2 6125 3427

Updated:  19 April 2016/ Responsible Officer:  Director, Planning & Performance Measurement/ Page Contact:  Evaluations Team