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ERIC Number: EJ770679
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Nov
Pages: 16
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 14
ISSN: ISSN-0950-0693
The Role of Submicroscopic and Symbolic Representations in Chemical Explanations
Treagust, David F.; Chittleborough, Gail; Mamiala, Thapelo L.
International Journal of Science Education, v25 n11 p1353-1368 Nov 2003
Chemistry is commonly portrayed at three different levels of representation--macroscopic, submicroscopic and symbolic--that combine to enrich the explanations of chemical concepts. In this article, we examine the use of submicroscopic and symbolic representations in chemical explanations and ascertain how they provide meaning. Of specific interest is the development of students' levels of understanding, conceived as instrumental (knowing how) and relational (knowing why) understanding, as a result of regular Grade 11 chemistry lessons using analogical, anthropomorphic, relational, problem-based, and model-based explanations. Examples of both teachers' and students' dialogue are used to illustrate how submicroscopic and symbolic representations are manifested in their explanations of observed chemical phenomena. The data in this research indicated that effective learning at a relational level of understanding requires simultaneous use of submicroscopic and symbolic representations in chemical explanations. Representations are used to help the learner learn; however, the research findings showed that students do not always understand the role of the representation that is assumed by the teacher. (Contains 1 table and 3 figures.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 11; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia