The College of Science is pleased to welcome Dr. Molly Atkinson as one of our newest faculty members in the UNT Chemistry department. She earned her PhD at the University of Georgia in Athens, researching Bioinorganic Chemistry and Chemistry Education Research before continuing her research via a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Chemistry Education Research (CER) integrates the research of chemistry content knowledge, educational research, and theories of how students learn. CER ultimately stems from several different disciplines, including chemistry, educational psychology, science education, and cognitive sciences, and it explores a broad range of areas, including (but not limited to):
· How students understand chemistry content.
· The measurement of students' chemistry knowledge, attitudes, identity, perceptions, and other constructs.
· The incorporation of evidence about student learning into the design of instructional materials and effective teaching practices.
With her research background in mind, Dr. Atkinson is understandably thrilled at the prospect of revitalizing the Chemistry Education program here at UNT.
"My research at UNT uses both qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate how students view and interpret chemistry representations," said Dr. Atkinson. "One interesting method we use is Eye Tracking, which can track eye movement and eye positions as students view static images or dynamic visualizations; this provides us information about how students are viewing and interpreting visualizations that we provide them and how much cognitive load is placed on students through the use of these visualizations."
As a first-generation student, Dr. Atkinson worked two jobs through her undergraduate degree, while also participating as a student athlete in cross-country, and still needed to take out student loans to make ends meet. In the end, she knows this makes her a teacher who is better equipped to support her students who may be struggling.
"I understand the financial burdens some of our students go through to be here with us at UNT, and that pushes me to be the very best instructor, mentor, and advisor I can be," said Dr. Atkinson.
When she is not teaching or conducting research, Dr. Atkinson enjoys running 5K's, 10K's, and half marathons.
"Running teaches you so much about persevering through the obstacles and challenges we face in our every day lives," she said. "Much of the time we are capable of pushing through challenges we face, even when our mind tells us it's not possible."
Chemistry Education Research is a very new and growing field, and Dr. Atkinson has expressed her excitement in sharing what they are learning in the Atkinson Research Group. If you are interested in learning more about CER or her research, she invites you to contact her at Molly.Atkinson@unt.edu, or follow her on Twitter via @MollyBAtkinson.