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ERIC Number: EJ888327
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 22
ISSN: ISSN-1756-1108
Making Sense of the Arrow-Pushing Formalism among Chemistry Majors Enrolled in Organic Chemistry
Ferguson, Robert; Bodner, George M.
Chemistry Education Research and Practice, v9 n2 p102-113 2008
This paper reports results of a qualitative study of sixteen students enrolled in a second year organic chemistry course for chemistry and chemical engineering majors. The focus of the study was student use of the arrow-pushing formalism that plays a central role in both the teaching and practice of organic chemistry. The goal of the study was to probe how students made sense of the arrow-pushing formalism by examining their responses to seven organic chemistry problems that required the use of this formalism. This paper discusses common barriers to students' understanding of the arrow-pushing formalism, the concepts and ideas students apply when they use this formalism to solve mechanism problems, and implications of the observation that they used this formalism in a meaningless, mechanical manner. (Contains 4 figures.)
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
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A