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Deb Mlsna

Deb Mlsna

Assistant Professor of Chemical Education

B.S, Chemistry, Davidson College, Davidson, NC
Ph.D., Chemistry, University of Texas-Austin, Austin, TX
email: Dr. Deb Mlsna
telephone: (662) 325-3799


Research Interests:

Deb Mlsna

Research interests in the Deb Mlsna group focus on Chemical Education and learning pathways for undergraduate students. We are involved in numerous projects that focus upon the development of critical thinking skills, interaction amongst students in laboratory environments, factors that impact student success and incorporation of novel teaching approaches and materials that encourage student understanding. The development of supportive environments for undergraduate education is our priority to support academic success for our students and to further explore the interactions that impact understanding.

Students in the Lab

Some of our current projects include:
1. Use of Supplemental Materials and Solved Problem Analysis in General Chemistry: (MSU IRB Study 13-234) Our group is utilizing two forms of supplemental instruction in General Chemistry to try and bridge the gap between faculty expectations and student performance. One style of instruction is the creation of detailed study guides-supplemental handouts designed to clearly expound for student use all aspects of the material that must be learned for exams.

The “solved problem analysis” approach is being used on in-class assignments and homework assignments as a way of supporting the novice to expert transition in students. These problems are given with detailed solutions, potentially correct or incorrect, and students must analyze the errors contained and explain the steps necessary to effect solution. Preliminary results on the solved problem approach has been extremely exciting with students showing marked improvement in understanding and assessment within these topics.

2. Laboratory Partner Impact Study: (MSU IRB 12-274) This ongoing study utilizes assigned laboratory partners in the General Chemistry laboratories to determine impact factors upon peer learning, participation in study groups and overall student success. Student lab partners are designated according to external metrics such as assigned lecture section or academic history to determine if certain pairings are more supportive of learning within the chemistry curriculum. Survey instruments are also being used to identify student perceptions of laboratory partner interactions. This long term study has been performed over 4 semesters at MSU and is being evaluated to identify the ideal parameters to support learning in the classroom.

Relevant Publications and Presentations:

  1. D. Mlsna and T. Linley, “Solved problem analysis in a large chemistry classroom”, (2014) Biennial Conference for Chemical Education, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 311.
  2. D. Mlsna and T. Linley, “Solved Problem Analysis and the development of critical thinking in General Chemistry” (2014) 247th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Dallas, TX, abstract #84.
  3. T. Linley, J.P. Emerson and D. Mlsna, (2014) “MSU2MD: A Freshman Year Experience course designed to educate and integrate PreHealth students.” National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, San Francisco, CA.,June 24th, 2014.
  4. Christina Hillesheim and Deb Mlsna, “Lab partnerships and the development of study groups: Creating partnerships to support learning outside the classroom”, (2014) 247th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Dallas, TX, abstract #69.
  5. D. Mlsna; “American Chemical Society- 2014 Full Year General Chemistry Exam”- Committee member and contributor developing Full Year Exam with ACS Exams Institute-2013-2014.
  6. Kumar, B. Tazik S, Mlsna, D. Mlsna, T. “Raoult’s Law: An Undergraduate Laboratory Experiment utilizing a MiniGC.” Chemical Educator, 18 (2013) pp 061-065, March 2013.
  7. Sameera R. Gunatilake, Akila G. Karunanayake, Fathima S. Ameer, Laura Smith, D. Mlsna, and Dongmao Zhang,. “Undergraduate Laboratory Experiment Modules for Probing Nanoparticle Interfacial Phenomena”. Submitted for publication, Journal of Chemical Education, 2014.
  8. Mlsna, D., Randall, J., Tolley, W. Mlsna T. Gas Chromatography- Investigations with the MiniGC.” Lab Manual, Vernier Software and Technology, 2009.