ERIC Number: ED469871
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1999-Mar
Teaching Structural Formulas in Chemistry: How Students Relate Structural Formulas to the Solubility of Substances.
Goedhart, Martin; van Duin, Yvonne
Structural formulas give professional chemists information about physical and chemical properties of corresponding compounds. In chemistry education at secondary schools, structural formulas are introduced in the context of chemical bonding. Structural formulas are not introduced as representations of the properties of chemical compounds. This paper reports about a research project investigating how upper level secondary school students use the information that is given by structural formulas, especially with respect to the solubility of compounds in water. The investigations were based on a small-scale case-study approach, and information was obtained by recording discussions between students working in small groups. In the first round of the project, it was concluded that a great deal of students used rules of thumb (like "polar compounds dissolve in polar solutes"), but their argumentations were not complete and they seemed to lack understanding. A second round of research tried to provide students with an experiential basis concerning solubilities of organic compounds and let them formulate rules by themselves. Students formulated the rules intended readily. One of the problems met in this study is that some students did not show a proper understanding of the "functional group" concept. Based on findings, some recommendations are given for the teaching of structural formulas at the secondary school level. (Contains 22 references.) (Author/MM)
Descriptors: Chemical Nomenclature, Chemistry, Learning Processes, Molecular Structure, Science Instruction, Scientific Concepts, Secondary Education
For full text: http://www.educ.sfu.ca/narstsite/conference/goedhart/goedhart.htm.
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (Boston, MA, March 28-31, 1999).