|Ph.D Student||Dangur Vered|
|Subject||Visualizations and Interdisciplinary Applications in|
Learning the Study Unit: Chemistry - From "The
Hole" to "The Whole": From the Nano-
Scale to Microelectronics
|Department||Department of Education in Science and Technology||Supervisors||Professor Yehudit Dori|
|Professor Uri Peskin|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
A learning unit for high school students, titled Chemistry - From “the hole” to “the whole”: From the nano-scale to Microelectronics, was developed at the Technion. The learning unit includes abstract topics from quantum mechanics theory, focusing on chemical properties derived from the substances' electronic structure. We have adopted a visual-conceptual approach, along with interdisciplinary real-life applications and visualization. While aimed at honors high school students, this unit was also taught as enrichment and assessed during an undergraduate mathematical-oriented quantum chemistry course. The research objectives were to investigate the effect of the unit on undergraduate and high school chemistry students' understanding of quantum mechanical concepts, and to assess the differences between the research groups in visual and textual chemical understanding, graphing, and transfer skills.
Research participants were 198 high school students and 82 undergraduate students who studied the advanced quantum chemistry course. Out of the undergraduates, 34 participated in qualitative enrichment sessions that exposed them to this unit.
The research tools included pre- and post-questionnaires aimed at assessing chemistry understanding and thinking skills, feedback questions and semi-structured interviews. Most of the high school students' responses demonstrated shift to quantum models, and few of them still contained misconceptions and previous naïve models even after learning the unit.
Both high school and undergraduate students improved their scores in three thinking skills: visual and textual chemical understanding, representing and interpreting symbols, and graphing skills. We did not find significant improvement in transfer skill. We compared three sub-groups of students that studied the unit and found that honors high academic level high school students improved their mastery of quantum chemistry more than undergraduate students who were exposed to the learning unit for a shorter duration. Intermediate level honors students scored lower than the other sub-groups in two thinking skills: visual and textual chemical understanding and graphing skills. Undergraduate students who where exposed to the learning unit improved their scores significantly more than their peers in the three investigated thinking skills.
The research contributes to the body of knowledge of visualization and thinking skills in chemistry. This research emphasizes the contribution of a visual-conceptual approach to the teaching and learning of quantum mechanics at both high school and undergraduate levels. A theoretical contribution of this study is the addition of the quantum mechanical level as a fifth level of chemistry understanding, augmenting the current set of four chemistry understanding levels - macro, micro, symbol and process.