P955: Exploring the foundation of student understanding of energy topics in general chemistry

Author: Megan Nagel, Penn State Greater Allegheny, USA

Co-Author: Beth Lindsey, Penn State Greater Allegheny, USA

Date: 8/7/14

Time: 10:15 AM10:35 AM

Room: ASH 2302

Related Symposium: S23

Energy is a topic of relevance to all of the STEM disciplines, yet students often struggle to understand energy concepts, let alone to make meaningful connections across the disciplines. Recently, the topic of energy has been receiving increased attention in science education research literature, highlighting an interdisciplinary approach to the topic. In chemistry courses alone, the topic of energy is introduced in numerous and seemingly disconnected contexts including bond enthalpies, quantized energy, lattice energy, intermolecular forces, and nuclear energy. The basis for many of these topics requires an understanding of energy and electrostatics which goes beyond that reached in a typical first-semester physics course. We asked our students to complete a survey following a semester of General Chemistry instruction. The students were asked to describe the energy changes associated with a change in position for systems consisting of oppositely charged ions or two or more dipoles. We found that even after the appropriate chemistry instruction, the majority of students still struggled to describe the basic relationship between particle position and electrostatic potential energy. To further explore the root of these struggles, student interviews were conducted on this topic and provide more detailed qualitative information regarding student understanding of energy in the context of basic chemistry.

P59: Using clickers to promote metacognitive awareness in the introductory chemistry classroom

Author: Megan Nagel, Penn State Greater Allegheny, USA

Co-Author: Beth Lindsey, Penn State Greater Allegheny, USA

Date: 8/3/14

Time: 3:05 PM3:25 PM

Room: MAN 107

Related Symposium: S9

Metacognition, or student recognition of what they know or do not know, plays an important role in science education. Well-developed metacognitive skills have been linked to successful problem solving ability, a vital factor for discovery and invention in chemistry and other STEM fields. We have been exploring the metacognitive abilities of students enrolled in introductory chemistry courses at a small campus of a large public university. When asked to make a large number of confidence judgments at the end of a semester, we found a large disparity between students’ confidence in their ability to answer questions compared to their actual ability to provide the correct answer. This result indicates a lack of metacognitive awareness. Therefore, an introductory chemistry course was designed with the goal of improving the accuracy of these judgments by having students continually practice this skill. Students used clickers to make multiple confidence judgments each class period throughout the semester. Immediately after making a confidence judgment, students answered a multiple choice version of the same question, again using the clicker. The questions were then discussed so that students received feedback on the accuracy of their judgments. Students viewed this exercise as a positive component of the course, yet the data indicate that little improvement was made in the accuracy of the judgments by the end of the semester. This indicates that additional efforts to promote metacognitive awareness are warranted.