NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ907998
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1756-1108
A Qualitative Report of the Ways High School Chemistry Students Attempt to Represent a Chemical Reaction at the Atomic/Molecular Level
Kern, Anne L.; Wood, Nathan B.; Roehrig, Gillian H.; Nyachwaya, James
Chemistry Education Research and Practice, v11 n3 p165-172 2010
We report the findings of a large-scale (n = 1,337) qualitative descriptive analysis of U.S. high schools students' particulate representations of a chemical reaction, specifically, the combustion of methane. Data were collected as part of an end of course exam. Student representations were coded into 17 distinct subcategories under one of five broad themes: i) Particulate Representations with discrete atoms, ii) Inappropriate Particulate Representations, iii) Quasi-particulate Representations, iv) Non-particulate Representations, or v) Irrelevant Attempts. Only 35.1% of student responses showed representations with discrete atoms that appropriately matched the individual molecular formulas in the combustion reaction. Of student responses, 45% were representations with discrete atoms; however, these representations were not chemically appropriate, displaying either incorrect connections between atoms within individual molecules or inappropriate groupings of atoms into individual molecules. 5.9% of student responses were coded as quasi-particulate, and included representations that displayed some form of particles that did not show discrete atoms. 22.9% of student responses were coded as non-particulate. The remaining 5.5% of responses represented no real attempt to address the question. The various representations are illustrated and described to provide a map of the domain of students' alternative conceptions of chemical reactions. Interestingly, of the 65% of students who were able to balance the equation correctly, more than half were unable to show the appropriate particulate representation. The ability to represent a chemical reaction at the symbolic level does not guarantee the ability to represent the reaction at the particulate level. (Contains 7 tables and 1 figure.)
Royal Society of Chemistry. Thomas Graham House, Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge, CB4 0WF, UK. Tel: +44-1223 420066; Fax: +44-1223 423623; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A