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ERIC Number: EJ1192812
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-Oct
Pages: 25
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1756-1108
Resolving the Complexity of Organic Chemistry Students' Reasoning through the Lens of a Mechanistic Framework
Caspari, I.; Kranz, D.; Graulich, N.
Chemistry Education Research and Practice, v19 n4 p1117-1141 Oct 2018
Research in organic chemistry education has revealed that students often rely on rote memorization when learning mechanisms. Not much is known about student productive resources for causal reasoning. To investigate incipient stages of student causal reasoning about single mechanistic steps of organic reactions, we developed a theoretical framework for this type of mechanistic reasoning. Inspired by mechanistic approaches from philosophy of science, primarily philosophy of organic chemistry, the framework divides reasoning about mechanisms into structural and energetic accounts as well as static and dynamic approaches to change. In qualitative interviews, undergraduate organic chemistry students were asked to think aloud about the relative activation energies of contrasting cases, i.e. two different reactants undergoing a leaving group departure step. The analysis of students' reasoning demonstrated the applicability of the framework and expanded the framework by different levels of complexity of relations that students constructed between differences of the molecules and changes that occur in a leaving group departure. We further analyzed how students' certainty about the relevance of their reasoning for a claim about activation energy corresponded to their static and dynamic approaches to change and how students' success corresponded to the complexity of relations that they constructed. Our findings support the necessity for clear communication of and stronger emphasis on the fundamental basis of elementary steps in organic chemistry. Implications for teaching the structure of mechanistic reasoning in organic chemistry and for the design of mechanism tasks are discussed. Contains notes and references.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Germany