ERIC Number: ED229281
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981
Reference Count: 0
The Atom - The Final Link in the Division Process or the First Building Block? Pre-Instructional Conceptions about the Structure of Substances.
The hypothesis as to the atomic structure of any given substance is introduced in many physics and chemistry textbooks by conveying the idea of repetitive division of a given amount of substance, for example, by grinding, dissolving, or evaporating. The rationale for this approach is the assumption of students inferring that this process of subdivision cannot be executed idenfinitely; that is, that there exist smallest possible subdivisions which in turn constitute the discontinuous structure of the undivided substance. Classroom conversations and interviews were conducted on the diffusion of ether and on the effect of changing the volume of a given portion of air upon temperature change. Empirical findings show that, on the one hand, many students (N=49) assimilate easily the idea of dividing a substance into smallest particles when dissolving or evaporating it. On the other hand, only a few students seem ready to acknowledge these particles as preformed building blocks of matter. In this respect, the approach seems to be inadequate. Comparisons, drawings, and interpretations offered to students in the later sections of interviews are included in an appendix. (JN)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Science Education Research; West Germany
Note: Published in Chimica Didactica; n7 p75-94 1981.