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ERIC Number: ED533532
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 190
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1248-5357-4
Bridging the Gap between Structures and Properties: An Investigation and Evaluation of Students' Representational Competence
Underwood, Sonia Miller
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Clemson University
The heart of learning chemistry is the ability to connect a compound's structure to its function; Lewis structures provide an essential link in this process. In many cases, their construction is taught using an algorithmic approach, containing a set of step-by-step rules. We believe that this approach is in direct conflict with the precepts of meaningful learning. From a sequential, mixed methods study, we found that students have much difficulty constructing these structures and that the step-by-step rules do not make use of students' relevant prior knowledge. This causes students to develop "home grown" rules when unsure of how to progress with the construction process. It also became clear that most students are uncertain of the importance of Lewis structures since they perceive them as being useful only for obtaining structural information but not property information. Using responses from student interviews and open ended questions, the Information from Lewis Structures Survey (ILSS) was developed, validated, and found reliable to assess students' representational competence by determining their understanding of the purpose of Lewis structures. Since students had many problems with the relationship of structures and properties, an alternative curriculum was evaluated to determine if it could help students develop a more meaningful understanding of this process. This instruction was part of a larger NSF-funded general chemistry curriculum redesign called "Chemistry, Life, the Universe and Everything" (CLUE). Using a control and treatment group, the effectiveness of this new curriculum was evaluated for two main aspects: 1. the students' ability to construct Lewis structures using "OrganicPad" and 2. the students' representational competence using the ILSS. Through four main studies (a pilot study, instructor effect study, main study, and retention study), we found that the CLUE curriculum helps students develop more expert-like strategies for constructing Lewis structures and a better understanding of why these structures are important by encouraging more meaningfully learning. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A