The nature of students' chemical reasoning employed in scientific argumentation in physical chemistry
Recent science education reform efforts have emphasized scientific practices in addition to scientific knowledge. Less work has been done at the tertiary level to consider students' engagement in scientific practices. In this work, we consider physical chemistry students' engagement in argumentation and construction of causal explanations. Students in two POGIL physical chemistry classrooms were videotaped as they engaged in discourse while solving thermodynamics problems. Videos were transcribed and transcripts were analyzed using the Toulmin Argument Pattern (TAP). Arguments were then characterized using the modes of reasoning in a learning progression on chemical thinking (CTLP) (Sevian and Talanquer, 2014). Results showed that students used primarily relational reasoning, in which no causal explanation is generated, rather a single relationship between variables was used to justify a claim. We discuss all types of reasoning present in students' arguments.