Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Sally S. Hunnicutt

Second Advisor

Hani M. El-Kaderi

Third Advisor

Suzanne Ruder

Fourth Advisor

Massimo F. Bertino

Fifth Advisor

Jacqueline T. McDonnough


When attempting to study the learning process of undergraduate chemistry student, the classroom and any interaction that take place within it constitute the social context of interest. By studying how different approaches can foster different classroom environments, it is possible to approach course design from an informed and scientifically sound perspective. Thus, it becomes necessary to identify and quantify the factors that have a positive or negative effect on the classroom environment. Social comparison concerns, comfort levels and self-efficacy have been shown to be social factors that affect each other as well as the learning process and have therefore been deemed suitable for use in this study. POGIL, a pedagogic approach to teaching chemistry based on small-group work and active learning, has been shown to lead to positive academic outcomes and is currently employed by several faculties at Virginia Commonwealth University. This study seeks to investigate differences in the learning environment observed in lecture and POGIL based chemistry courses, by adapting Micari’s survey for measuring social comparison, comfort levels and self-efficacy in small-group science learning.

Reliance on the combustion of fossil-fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas, as sources of energy has, since the industrial revolution, caused atmospheric CO2 to increase to the current level of 400ppm by volume; an increase of 25% from the 1960s when monitoring started. Climatologists predict that an increase to 450 ppm would have irreversible effects on the Earth’s environment and recommend that, in order to preserve the conditions in which civilization developed, levels be reduced to below 350 ppm. The use of porous organic polymers for capture and separation of CO2 from industrial sources has been at the forefront of research attempting to curb CO2 emission into the atmosphere. Benzimidazole based polymers have shown a high selectivity for CO2.7 To attempt to improve on the capture abilities of these polymers, we sought to synthesize sulfur containing analogs presenting thiazole moieties. Two such polymers were synthesized using a pyrene-based linker. Furthermore, the pyrene-derived fluorescence of these polymers enabled their use as chemosensors targeting nitroaromatic compounds and mercury


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