|Ph.D Thesis||Department of Education in Science and Technology|
|Supervisor:||Prof. Dori Yehudit|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
A new learning unit, titled Energy and Dynamics in Chemistry, which consists of energy, kinetics, and chemical equilibrium topics, was developed for 11th grade chemistry students. The scientific concepts were presented by multiple representations - visual, textual and quantitative - while emphasizing their relations to everyday phenomena. Four levels of chemistry understanding - macroscopic, microscopic, symbol and process - were employed as scaffolds in order to enhance students' chemical understanding.
The research objective was to investigate whether and to what extent the new learning environment has an effect on (a) students' higher order thinking skills—reasoning, graphing, and transfer; (b) the chemical understanding levels expressed in students' responses to learning assignments, and (c) teachers' attitudes toward the new unit's characteristics and their impact on students.
The research participants included 140 experimental students who studied the learning unit Energy and Dynamics in Chemistry and 51 students who studied according the previous approach , a more quantitative approach - the comparison group students.
Pre- and post-questionnaires were used to assess the three higher order thinking skills as demonstrated by the students. Brief questionnaires and sample interviewing were used for studying teachers' attitudes after they taught the Energy and Dynamics in Chemistry unit.
Overall, our findings indicate that students in the experimental group improved their performances in the three higher order thinking skills that were examined in this research: reasoning, graphing, and near transfer. The improvement in the scores of these experimental students was higher than that of their comparison group peers. With respect to applying multiple chemistry understanding levels, we found that students moved from reasoning with just one chemistry understanding level to integration of two or three chemistry understanding levels as a basis for their reasoning and migrated from using the concrete macro level to more abstract and complex levels.
Teachers expressed a positive attitude toward demanding students to engage in reasoning and apply graphical representations. They mentioned that they considered connecting the classroom learning to "real-life phenomena" as a motivating factor.
The research has both theoretical and practical contributions. The outcomes of this research have established new knowledge pertaining to relationships between higher order thinking skills and the characteristics of the research environment.
From the practical aspect, this research may provide a basis for science teachers' preparation and professional development.