P595: Development of an assessment to examine understanding of chemical bonding and molecular structure of general chemistry students
The connection between atomic orbitals and molecular structure is often not emphasized in the general chemistry curriculum. Many current approaches to instruction of molecular shape determination in general chemistry (e.g. drawing Lewis structures and then applying VSEPR theory) do not meaningfully address how atomic orbitals contribute to molecular shape. While the lack of orbitals may be advantageous in its simplicity, the opportunity for students to build molecules and predict their properties from first principles is lost. To remedy this deficiency, our group has been developing a module covering atoms, chemical bonding, and molecules based on building molecules from atomic orbital diagrams. In order to assess the efficacy of this module, we are developing an assessment that will cover atomic orbitals, molecular structure and properties, with a special emphasis on the connections between these topics. To this end, an extensive survey was administered to students in general chemistry courses at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The results of this survey, including both student misconceptions that arose and our strategy for using these data to develop our instrument, will be discussed.