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ERIC Number: EJ984480
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 27
ISSN: ISSN-1756-1108
Students' Understanding of Mathematical Expressions in Physical Chemistry Contexts: An Analysis Using Sherin's Symbolic Forms
Becker, Nicole; Towns, Marcy
Chemistry Education Research and Practice, v13 n3 p209-220 2012
Undergraduate physical chemistry courses require students to be proficient in calculus in order to develop an understanding of thermodynamics concepts. Here we present the findings of a study that examines student understanding of mathematical expressions, including partial derivative expressions, in two undergraduate physical chemistry courses. Students participated in think-aloud interviews and responded to a set of questions involving mixed second partial derivatives with either abstract symbols or thermodynamic variables. The findings describe students' ability to transfer mathematics knowledge to chemistry problems and how students use symbolic forms described by Sherin (2001) to make sense of mathematical expressions in physical chemistry contexts. (Contains 8 figures and 6 tables.)
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: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A