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Wednesday, June 22 • 11:15 - 12:15
CON01.13b - Models in Collision: Measuring the Impacts of Student Engagement on Alternative Conceptions of Chemical Bonding

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All disciplines employ models to develop meaningful understanding and explanations. In the chemical sciences, models describing molecular structure employ an invented symbolism – to visualize the invisible, learners must connect the macroscopic, sub-microscopic, and symbolic realms (Johnstone 1991). Learners of chemistry encounter many different chemical bonding models, each embedded within its own theoretical framework and demanding its own “representational competence” (Cooper, et al. 2010). Traditional methods of teaching chemistry fail to explicitly address the limits associated with various bonding models, making it difficult for learners to integrate disparate mental models into a coherent conceptual framework (Nahum, et al. 2010).

The author has developed a university-level student engagement exercise that promotes the proper use of multiple bonding models by engendering peer discussion to evaluate the relative strengths of different models, and forcing learners to address potential alternative conceptions. Attendees will learn about the results of a quasi-experimental research study to assess the effectiveness of the exercise, including the framework of learning models and teaching strategies around which the study was designed (constructionism, information processing, alternative conceptions, student engagement). Attendees will be asked to discuss and reflect upon challenges associated with the teaching and learning of correct application of models from their own disciplines, the findings of the research study, and implications for best teaching and learning practices. The target audience includes science educators and educators with interest in student engagement strategies. 

Cooper, M. M.; Grove, N.; Underwood, S. M.; Klymkowsky, M. W. (2010). Lost in Lewis structures: An investigation of student difficulties in developing representational competence. J. Chem. Educ. 87, 869-874.

Johnstone, A. H. (1991). Why is science so difficult to learn? Things are seldom what they seem. J. Comp. Assist. Learn. 7, 75-83.

Nahum, T. L.; Mamlok-Naaman, R.; Hofstein, A.; Taber, K. S. (2010). Teaching and learning the concept of chemical bonding. Stud. Sci. Educ. 46, 179-207.

avatar for W. Stephen McNeil

W. Stephen McNeil

Associate Professor, Chemistry, University of British Columbia Okanagan
W. Stephen McNeil is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia in Kelowna, British Columbia. Talk to him about SoTL, FYE, student engagement, chemistry, maybe board games?

Wednesday June 22, 2016 11:15 - 12:15
UCC 315 (Council Chambers)

Attendees (6)

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