Research Questions

  • How can analogies, within an interactive chemistry application, be used to introduce undergraduate students to the concept of potential energy wells?
  • How does interaction with these analogies impact students’ ability to correctly draw Jablonski diagrams?


Shahani, V., & Jenkinson, J. (2016). The efficacy of interactive analogical models in the instruction of bond energy curves in undergraduate chemistry. Chemistry Education Research and Practice. (in press).


  • Two analogy systems that explain bond energy were selected for in-depth exploration from the many interactive modules available on the Chemversity e-learning platform
  • The interactive analogies were assessed with third-year undergraduate chemistry students
  • Students modified written descriptions to include new details in accordance to the structure-mapping theory of analogies
  • Students failed to correct visual descriptions of energy wells

Intellectual Property

This project is the property of Vijay Shahani.

Chemversity utilizes including instructional analogies to engage its learners.


About this research project

Chemversity utilizes several teaching strategies to engage its learners including instructional analogies. Naïve learners use analogies involving known systems to transfer a base-level of understanding to novel concepts. Unfortunately, analogies can also lead to misconceptions when inconsistent aspects of the analogous system are mistakenly applied to new principles. We wanted to investigate the effectiveness of a novel analogy for explaining the energy of atoms in a bond. Furthermore, we wanted to assess the performance of the analogy within the Chemversity interactive platform. We conducted a study with third-year university students who interacted with two distinct analogy systems both related to the potential energy of bonded atoms. The results from the study highlighted the potential for developing new analogies to be hosted on e-learning platforms while also stressing the importance of evaluating visualizations to ensure that the most important information is transferred.

Chemversity is a web-based, interactive learning platform built for chemistry education. Chemversity was designed to enhance the learning experience by providing students interactive elements and multiple representations of important chemical principles to supplement text-based information. Users are also provided multiple ways of navigating through the learning system, allowing them to access the information as needed. In the current prototypic version, users can explore the underlying concepts that drive the molecular phenomenon fluorescence. Later versions of the tool will feature an expanded selection of topics and functionality, including progress-tracking, rewards, and buddy systems.


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