Design-based Research: The Use of Computer-based Molecular Modelling to Enhance Student Understanding of Chemical Bonding

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Title: Design-based Research: The Use of Computer-based Molecular Modelling to Enhance Student Understanding of Chemical Bonding
Author: Ghulam, Shenelle Pearl
Contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Matemaattis-luonnontieteellinen tiedekunta, Kemian laitos
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Abstract: Bonding is a central concept in chemistry education; thus a thorough understanding of it is crucial in order to understand various other concepts of chemistry. However, students often find it difficult to understand the concept of bonding and as a result develop alternative conceptions. Living in a macroscopic world, students may find it difficult to shift between macroscopic and molecular levels; this is one of the reasons why students find it difficult to understand chemical bonding. The wide range of complex and sophisticated scientific models that scientists have developed to explain bonding, can be confusing for students. Moreover, students develop alternative conceptions as a result of the way they are taught. Computer-based molecular modelling could be utilized to facilitate and enhance student understanding of bonding. This thesis describes a study on the supportive opportunities and challenges encountered when using computer-based molecular modelling to enhance student understanding of bonding, focusing particularly on three main inquiries. Investigating the challenges students face when utilizing computer-based molecular modelling to understand and explain chemical bonding. Exploring the features of computer-based molecular modelling that enhance student understanding of bonding. And analysing how to optimally support students understanding of bonding when using computer-based models. The study was conducted as a design-based research, centred particularly on student’s opinions. An exercise was designed and implemented with 20 International Baccalaureate (11th grade students) during their chemistry lessons. The exercise sheet comprised of brief explanations on bonding, instructions to visualize models on Edumol (a web based molecular modelling and visualization environment) and questions to be answered after visualizing the models. The research results highlighted the importance of well planned activities to ensure the effective use of computer-based models. Prior to using computer-based models in class, teachers must consider possible solutions for technical difficulties that might arise. They must also plan activities based on student’s prior experiences with models, to ensure that nothing hinders the students learning process. Additionally, teachers must individualize activities by taking into consideration students opinions and preferences, to ensure productive learning. Furthermore, teachers should optimize the use of the effective features of computer-based models. Features such as molecular electrostatic potentials, that are only possible to visualize via computer-based models. Finally, teachers should use the necessary supportive materials in conjunction with the computer-based models to enhance student understanding of bonding.
Date: 2016-08-02
Discipline: Kemian opettajan koulutus

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