MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractIn order to support the development of learning progressions about central ideas and practices in different disciplines, we need detailed analyses of the implicit assumptions and reasoning strategies that guide students' thinking at different educational levels. In the particular case of chemistry, understanding how new chemical substances are produced (chemical synthesis) is of critical importance. Thus, we have used a qualitative research approach based on individual interviews with first semester general chemistry students (n = 16), second semester organic chemistry students (n = 15), advanced undergraduates (n = 9), first year graduate students (n = 15), and PhD candidates (n = 16) to better characterize diverse students' underlying cognitive elements (conceptual modes and modes of reasoning) when thinking about chemical synthesis. Our results reveal a great variability in the cognitive resources and strategies used by students with different levels of training in the discipline to make decisions, particularly at intermediate levels of expertise. The specific nature of the task had a strong influence on the conceptual sophistication and mode of reasoning that students exhibited. Nevertheless, our data analysis has allowed us to identify common modes of reasoning and assumptions that seem to guide students' thinking at different educational levels. Our results should facilitate the development of learning progressions that help improve chemistry instruction, curriculum, and assessment.
Degree ProgramGraduate College