Implementing student created atomic scale depictions across multiple units to improve understanding of molecular interactions in high school chemistry
Jones, Christopher S.
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One of the most difficult aspects of studying chemistry is that one must imagine the atoms and molecules interacting to understand many of the concepts. A plan was developed to repeatedly draw out representations of the processes studied at the molecular scale in a high school chemistry curriculum. The goal was to provide increased understanding that would be reflected in exam scores. Analysis of exam results for the treatment year were compared to previous years' results of the same exams. Students were also surveyed about the perceived instructional benefit and enjoyment of the activities. Exam scores for the treatment year were not significantly higher or lower than in previous years. One aspect that was remarkable was the discrepancy between the students' belief in the efficacy of the intervention despite their lack of affect for it. The students generally believed the curriculum was more effective than it was. They also tended to express less satisfaction with the drawing treatment as the year progressed. Interviews were conducted with students who voluntarily expressed both positive and negative experiences, as well as others who were selected randomly.