Session S11 (Sunday, 2pm, Thomas 118)

P66: Students’ assumptions about chemical energy: What progresses?

Vicente Talanquer (University of Arizona, USA)

The central goal of this work was to explore the implicit assumptions and reasoning strategies that guide students’ reasoning when learning about chemical energy. Our results are based on the analysis of the ideas and strategies used by college general chemistry students to solve problems and build explanations. Research data was collected over several academic terms using a variety of research instruments, from single short-answer questions, to individual interviews, to multiple-choice questionnaires. Our results indicate that students’ ideas about energy seem to evolve from thinking of energy as a product, to thinking of energy first as a passive agent contained in substances and later as a source of bond strength. However, students’ mental models of energy transfer in chemical reactions can be quite varied. In general, students tend to build explanations about these phenomena based on the analysis of one single factor, failing to integrate the effect of multiple variables.

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