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ERIC Number: ED556145
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 183
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3035-4800-0
Development of an Electrochemistry Teaching Sequence Using a Phenomenographic Approach
Rodriguez-Velazquez, Sorangel
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, North Carolina State University
Electrochemistry is the area of chemistry that studies electron transfer reactions across an interface. Chemistry education researchers have acknowledged that difficulties in electrochemistry instruction arise due to the level of abstraction of the topic, lack of adequate explanations and representations found in textbooks, and a quantitative emphasis in the application of concepts. Studies have identified conceptions (also referred to as misconceptions, alternative conceptions, etc.) about the electrochemical process that transcends academic and preparation levels (e.g., students and instructors) as well as cultural and educational settings. Furthermore, conceptual understanding of the electrochemical process requires comprehension of concepts usually studied in physics such as electric current, resistance and potential and often neglected in introductory chemistry courses. The lack of understanding of physical concepts leads to students. conceptions with regards to the relation between the concepts of redox reactions and electric circuits. The need for instructional materials to promote conceptual understanding of the electrochemical process motivated the development of the electrochemistry teaching sequence presented in this dissertation. Teaching sequences are educational tools that aim to bridge the gap between student conceptions and the scientific acceptable conceptions that instructors expect students to learn. This teaching sequence explicitly addresses known conceptions in electrochemistry and departs from traditional instruction in electrochemistry to reinforce students' previous knowledge in thermodynamics providing the foundation for the explicit relation of redox reactions and electric circuits during electrochemistry instruction. The scientific foundations of the electrochemical process are explained based on the Gibbs free energy (G) involved rather than on the standard redox potential values (E° [subscript ox/red]) of redox half-reactions. Representations of the core concepts from discipline-specific models and theories serve as visual tools to describe reversible redox half-reactions at equilibrium, predict the spontaneity of the electrochemical process and explain interfacial equilibrium between redox species and electrodes in solution. The integration of physics concepts into electrochemistry instruction facilitated describing the interactions between the chemical system (e.g., redox species) and the external circuit (e.g., voltmeter). The "Two worlds" theoretical framework was chosen to anchor a robust educational design where the "world" of objects and events is deliberately connected to the "world" of theories and models. The core concepts in Marcus theory and density of states (DOS) provided the scientific foundations to connect both "worlds". The design of this teaching sequence involved three phases; the selection of the content to be taught, the determination of a coherent and explicit connection among concepts and the development of educational activities to engage students in the learning process. The reduction-oxidation and electrochemistry chapters of three of the most popular general chemistry textbooks were revised in order to identify potential gaps during instruction, taking into consideration learning and teaching difficulties. The electrochemistry curriculum was decomposed into manageable sections contained in modules. Thirteen modules were developed and each module addresses specific conceptions with regard to terminology, redox reactions in electrochemical cells, and the function of the external circuit in electrochemical process. The electrochemistry teaching sequence was evaluated using a phenomenographic approach. This approach allows describing the qualitative variation in instructors' consciousness about the teaching of electrochemistry. A phenomenographic analysis revealed that the most relevant aspect of variation came from instructors' expertise. Participant A expertise (electrochemist) promoted in-depth discussions of fundamental theories and models that explain the electrochemical process while participant B expertise (general chemistry instruction) emphasized a coherent and explicit presentation of such theories and models to students. Other categories of variation were identified as: recognizing students' conceptions, the use of teaching resources and instructors' expectations for the teaching sequence. For example, while Participant B depended heavily on representations and explanations found in textbooks, participant A recognized misleading representations and oversimplified statements in general chemistry textbooks. Participant A was also more inclined to question the significance of some conceptions such as the correlation between the use of the term circuit and students' conceptions related to the movement of electrons in solution in an electrochemical cell. The electrochemistry teaching sequence in this dissertation fulfils each of the instructors' expectations with regards to the content that incorporated discipline-specific theories and models, explicit connections and flow among concepts, and addressing students' conceptions via the educational activities developed. [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