Chemistry and Biochemistry

Rebecca L. Sansom

Rebecca Sansom

Office: C161 BNSN
Office Phone: 801-422-9089
Office Hours


B.A., Boston University (2001)

A.M., Harvard University (2005)

M.Ed., Southern Utah University (2013)

Ph.D., Brigham Young University (2019)

Curriculum Vitae


There are three main foci for the Sansom research group: how to improve student success in general chemistry, how to support university faculty to use evidence-based instructional practices, and how to improve the quality of science instruction in K-12 classrooms.

Improving Student Success in General Chemistry. General chemistry is considered a gateway course because so many STEM majors require general chemistry. Thus, failure in chemistry can lead to leaving STEM fields. Likewise, success in general chemistry opens opportunities for students to continue in a variety of STEM majors. We are constantly investigating strategies to help students succeed, and past studies have looked at decision-based learning to improve problem solving, open educational resources to reduce textbook costs, and process skills as a way to support skill-building in lab. 
Helping University Faculty Adopt Student-Centered Teaching Practices. Supporting student success means helping instructors use evidence-based teaching practices. We investigate the factors that influence faculty decision-making about teaching. These include individual factors like attitudes and self-efficacy, social factors like the influence of teaching evaluations and peer conversations, and contextual factors like the setup of classrooms on campus. 
Increasing Quality Instruction in K-12 Classrooms. Just as university faculty need support and professional development to improve their teaching practice, so do K-12 teachers. We provide professional development to rural Utah science teachers to support three-dimensional science instruction—teaching that incorporates disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts. We study the impact of our novel professional learning strategy called Technology-Mediated Lesson Study on teachers’ classroom practice. 


17. Sansom, R.L.* (2022) Ecological Models of Behavior Change. Invited, peer-reviewed, online publication. Available at

16. West, R., Jensen, J., Sansom, R.L., Nielson, J., Wright, G., Johnson, M. (2022) STEM Faculty Institute: An Intensive Interdisciplinary Effort To Improve STEM Faculty Adoption of Evidence-based Instructional Practices. Journal of College Science Teaching 51(3), 78-87. Available at

15. Sansom, R.L.* (2021) Make Thinking Explicit to Support Student Learning, in Decision-Based Learning: An innovative pedagogy that unpacks expert knowledge for the novice learner, edited by Wentworth, N., Plummer, K.J., and Swan, R.H. Emerald Publishing, Bingley, UK.

14. Sansom, R.L.* (2021) Theory of Planned Behavior. Invited, peer-reviewed, online publication. Available at

13. West, R., Jensen, J., Sansom, R.L., Nielson, J., Wright, G., Johnson, M. (2020) STEM Faculty Institute: An Intensive Interdisciplinary Effort To Improve STEM Faculty Adoption of Evidence-based Instructional Practices. Journal of College Science Teaching. Accepted. 

12. West, R.E., Sansom, R.L, Nielson, J., Wright, G., Turley, R.S., Jensen, J., Johnson, M. (2020) Ideas for supporting student-centered STEM learning through remote labs: A response. Educational Technology Research and Development. Published Online. DOI: 10.1007/s11423-020-09905-y.

11. Sansom, R.L.* (2020) Pressure from the pandemic: Pedagogical dissatisfaction when beliefs and practices do not align. Journal of Chemical Education. 97(9), 2378-2382. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.0c00657.

10. Sansom, R.L.*, §Bodily, R., Bates, C., Leary, H. (2020). Increasing student use of a learner dashboard. Journal of Science Education and Technology 29(3), 386-398. DOI: 10.1007/s10956-020-09824-w.

9. Sansom, R.L.*, Walker, J. (2019). Investing in Laboratory Courses. Journal of Chemical Education 97(1), 308-309. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.9b00714

8. §Reynders, G., Suh, E., Cole, R., Sansom, R.L.* (2019). Developing Student Process Skills in a General Chemistry Laboratory. Journal of Chemical Education 96(10), 2109-2119.

7. Sansom, R.L.*, Suh, E., Plummer, K.J. (2019). Decision-Based Learning: If I Just Knew Which Equation to Use, I Know I Could Solve this Problem! Journal of Chemical Education 96(3), 445-454.

6. Sansom, R.L.* (2014-2020). Chemistry 107 Laboratory Manual (1st-6th eds.). Plymouth, MI: Macmillan Learning. Updated and revised annually.

5. Sansom, R.L.* (2014). Uncovering student thinking through the Science Literacy Framework. Chemistry Solutions 1(2).

4. Sansom, R.L. (2014) Constructing Ionic Compounds, Limiting Reactant, and Nuclear Energy Power Plants. In American Association of Chemistry Teachers Online Classroom Resources.

3. Li, Z., Sansom, R.L., Bonella, S., Coker, D., Mullin, A.S. (2005). A classical trajectory study of “supercollision” relaxation of hot pyrazine with CO2Journal of Physical Chemistry A 109(34), 7657 -7666.

2. Elioff, M.S., Sansom, R.L., Mullin, A.S. (2000). Vibrational Energy Gain in the n2 Bending Mode of Water via Collisions with Hot Pyrazine (Evib = 37 900 cm-1): Insights into the Dynamics of Energy Flow. Journal of Physical Chemistry A 104(45), 10304-10311.

1. Elioff, M.S., Fraelich, M., Sansom, R.L., Mullin, A.S. (1999). State-resolved collisional quenching of highly vibrationally excited pyridine by water: The role of strong electrostatic attraction in VRT energy transfer. Journal of Chemical Physics 111(8), 3517-3525.