Identifying, attributing, and dispelling student misconceptions in electrochemistry

Sanger, Michael
Major Professor
Thomas J. Greenbowe
Lynn W. Glass
Committee Member
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This dissertation contains six chapters. The first chapter is a review of the chemical education literature concerning suggestions or personal opinions promoting one pedagogical method of teaching oxidation-reduction reactions or electrochemistry, descriptions of real world examples of oxidation-reduction reactions or electrochemistry, and empirical data aimed at identifying student difficulties or misconceptions related to oxidation-reduction reactions or electrochemistry. The second through fifth chapters contain the results of my research on student misconceptions in electrochemistry as they were submitted for journal publication. The sixth chapter contains an opinion paper concerning the possible mismatch between Science-Technology-Society/ChemCom-based high school chemistry courses and traditional introductory college-level chemistry courses. This article originated as a preliminary examination question concerning the advantages and disadvantages of the STS movement in science education;The first study is a replication, with additions, of a clinical interview study performed by Garnett and Treagust (J. Res. Sci. Teach., 1992, 29, 1079-1099). We were able to confirm most of the misconceptions reported by these authors and reported several new misconceptions;The second study focused on the student misconceptions regarding current flow in electrolyte solutions and the salt bridge reported in the first study. This study briefly discussed student misconceptions, identified chemistry textbooks as possible sources of these misconceptions, and discussed the use of computer animations and a confrontational teaching method as an effective method of preventing or dispelling these misconceptions;The third study investigated introductory college-level chemistry textbooks as a source of student misconceptions in electrochemistry. The oxidation-reduction and electrochemistry chapters of ten chemistry textbooks were analyzed for vague or misleading statements and illustrations that could lead to student misconceptions. Several suggestions for textbooks authors were also reported;The fourth study investigated the effects of computer animations depicting chemical processes on the molecular level and chemical demonstration-based conceptual change instruction on student responses to conceptual questions based on the misconception that electron migration constitutes current flow in electrolyte solutions. Computer animations had little effect on student conceptions, but conceptual change instruction significantly decreased the proportion of student responses consistent with the misconception.