Date of Award

12-2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

Abstract

What is it about the nature of high school chemistry that creates obstacles to student learning? What are the common misconceptions? This thesis project notes that many high school chemistry students often struggle with misconceptions about the material. It postulates that these misconceptions are driven by the overwhelming amount of material they must master, the student’s prior “assumed” knowledge which may or may not be correct, and the reality that chemistry content tends to be more abstract in nature than previous science coursework. The project seeks to identify the common misconceptions in the chemistry classroom and create instructional strategies to correct these misconceptions while also analyzing the effectiveness of several strategies. The literature section identifies and discusses strategies for assessing student misconceptions. Examples include - Chemistry Concepts Inventory and mini-random pretest assessments using multiple choice and short essay responses. The active research was conducted in a suburban high school in four chemistry classrooms with 74 student participants. The grade level ranged from 10th-12th. Pretests were used to assess and identify student misconceptions. Once the misconceptions were identified, instructional approaches, which included demonstrations, laboratory activities, inquiry-based experiments, discussion, and discrepant events, were developed to correct the misconceptions. Post-tests were administered to understand student knowledge and any change/improvement in misconceptions. Conclusions affirm the increase in mastery from the pretest to the post-test while some misconceptions had a more significant improvement than others, in general there was an increase in understanding throughout the duration of the study for each misconception identified.

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