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ERIC Number: EJ1202237
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2019-Jan
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1756-1108
Productive Features of Problem Solving in Chemical Kinetics: More than Just Algorithmic Manipulation of Variables
Rodriguez, Jon-Marc G.; Bain, Kinsey; Hux, Nicholas P.; Towns, Marcy H.
Chemistry Education Research and Practice, v20 n1 p175-186 Jan 2019
Problem solving is a critical feature of highly quantitative physical science topics, such as chemical kinetics. In order to solve a problem, students must cue into relevant features, ignore irrelevant features, and choose among potential problem-solving approaches. However, what is considered appropriate or productive for problem solving is highly context-dependent. This study is part of a larger project centered on students' integration of chemistry and mathematics knowledge and skills. The data for this study came from semi-structured interviews with 40 general chemistry students using a think-aloud protocol. Interview prompts involved students working through two chemical kinetics problems, one involving a second-order system and one involving a zero-order system. In both cases, students could solve the problem using the data provided and relevant equations, or by taking a conceptual approach and considering the relationship between quantities. Using the resource-based model of cognition as our theoretical framework, analysis focused on characterizing the productive and unproductive problem-solving routes used by students. Findings emphasize the role of using conceptual reasoning and reflecting on one's work during problem solving, which have implications for instructors as they guide students to think about chemical kinetics and to solve problems across quantitative topics in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
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: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: DUE1504371