ERIC Number: EJ1016970
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jun
Abstractor: As Provided
Concept Learning versus Problem Solving: Evaluating a Threat to the Validity of a Particulate Gas Law Question
Sanger, Michael J.; Vaughn, C. Kevin; Binkley, David A.
Journal of Chemical Education, v90 n6 p700-709 Jun 2013
Three different samples of students were asked to answer five multiple-choice questions concerning the properties of a sample of helium gas (particle speed, state of matter, sample volume, sample pressure, and particle distribution), including a particulate question first used by Nurrenbern and Pickering (particle distribution). In the first experiment, half of the students were given the boiling point of helium under these conditions while the other half were not; in the second experiment, half of the students were explicitly told that the cooled gas sample would not liquefy or solidify under these conditions while the other half were not; in the third experiment, half of the students received instruction that asked them to focus on whether the container for the gas sample was rigid or nonrigid while the other half received traditional instruction that did not focus on the rigidity of gas container. The responses from students in these three experiments were compared. The first experiment was unable to show any significant difference in students' responses to the five questions and found that the proportion of correct answers for the two groups was equivalent for the particle speed, sample volume, and sample pressure questions. The second experiment found that students given the explicit information were more likely to correctly predict the state of matter for the sample, but the responses from the two groups of students were equivalent for the other four questions. The third experiment suggested that students receiving instruction regarding the rigidity of the gas container were more likely to choose the correct answer for the questions related to the sample volume, sample pressure, and particle distribution. The results of the first two experiments suggest that choosing an incorrect state of matter for the gas sample does not appear to be a major threat to the validity of Nurrenbern and Pickering's particulate question. The last two experiments suggest that providing students with instructional or assessment cues with the goal of helping students activate schema related to the behavior and properties of gases appeared to improve their answers to some of the five multiple-choice questions asked in these studies.
Descriptors: Science Instruction, Chemistry, Secondary School Science, High Schools, College Science, Undergraduate Study, Scientific Concepts, Multiple Choice Tests, Prediction, Teaching Methods, Cues, Content Analysis, Interviews, Laboratory Experiments
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; High Schools
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A