Kelly, Resa M

Kelly, Resa M

Associate Professor, Chemistry
Secretary/Councilor Division of Chemical Education/ACS




Preferred: (408) 924-4940

Office Hours

Mondays and Wednesdays 11AM to Noon


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Univ of Northern Colorado, 2005
  • Master of Science, Univ of Northern Colorado, 2004
  • Master of Arts, Univ of Northern Iowa, 2000
  • Bachelor of Arts (Chemistry), Univ of Northern Iowa, 1992
  • Bachelor of Arts (Psychology), Univ of Notre Dame, 1990


Professor Kelly's research interests involve studying how students learn and modify their understanding of chemistry concepts and mechanisms after viewing and reflecting on molecular visualizations. She also explores best practices for the design of molecular visualization tools (see the link below -Design Principles for Effective Molecular Animations). Dr. Kelly enjoys hiking and fitness classes in her free time.

Chemical Education Research (CER)

In the Kelly group, we study the teaching and learning of chemistry across secondary and tertiary levels. We are particularly interested in exploring ways to get students to critique molecular level visualizations in connection to experimental evidence.

Current research focuses on: 

  • Designing visualizations of molecular level events and mechanisms (submicroscopic emphasis)
  • Developing videos of experimental evidence (macroscopic emphasis) complete with experimental controls and variables
  • Exploring the use of metacognitive monitoring activities partnered with visualizations
  • Performing mental model analysis through picture construction, think aloud and semi-structured interviews   

SJSU redox animation

Current Graduate Students:

Vandhana Lal - Analyzing how visualizations in conflict to each other affect college students' understanding of redox reactions.

Saheed Mohamed - The effect of a chemical bond analogy on student learning - explores how high school students construct analogies of chemical bonds through stories that they draw.

Former Graduate Students:

Melissa Harker - MA Science Education 2015 - Project title: The effect of participating in a simulated scientific community on seventh graders' conceptions of the nature of science

Cristina Chang - MA Science Education 2013 - Project title: A case study of teachers' understanding of sustainability

Juliet Hamak - MA Science Education 2013 - Project title: Analysis of general chemistry students' understanding of electrolytic solution characteristics

Interested in CER?

  • SJSU undergraduates should schedule an appointment during office hours.
  • Prospective graduate students should contact Dr. Kelly (#4-4940 or email)



Kelly, R. M. (2015). Insights into visualization design. DivCHED CCCE 2015 Spring ConfChem. May 8-14, 2015.

Kelly, R.M. (2014) Using variation theory with metacognitive monitoring to develop insights into how students learn from molecular visualizations. Journal of Chemical Education 91(8), 1152-1161.

Kelly, R. (2013). How a qualitative study with chemistry instructors informed atomic level animation design. Pedagogic Roles of Animations and Simulations in Chemistry Courses; Suits, J.; Sanger, M., Eds.; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC.

Kelly, R. M., Barrera, J. H., & Mohamed, S. C. (2010) An Analysis of Undergraduate General Chemistry Students’ Explanations of the Submicroscopic Level of Precipitation Reactions. Journal of Chemical Education 87(1), 113-118. Publication date(Web): December 18, 2009.

Bishop, M. & Kelly, R. (2009). Bound to fail: challenges faced in the design of molecular level visualizations (Paper 6) Committee on Computers in Chemical Education Newsletter Publication date(Web): December 7-9, 2009.

Kelly, R. M. & Jones, L. L. (2008). Investigating students' ability to transfer ideas learned from molecular animations of the dissolution process. Journal of Chemical Education 85 (2), 303-309.

Kelly, R. M. & Jones, L. L. (2007). Exploring how different features of animations of sodium chloride dissolution affect students' explanations. Journal of Science Education and Technology 16(5), 413-429.

Kelly, R., Phelps, A., & Sanger, M. (2004). The effects of a computer animation on students' conceptual understanding of a can-crushing demonstration at the macroscopic, microscopic, and symbolic levels. Chemical Educator 9(3) 184-189.