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Issue 3, 2014
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Learning quantum chemistry via a visual-conceptual approach: students' bidirectional textual and visual understanding

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Most undergraduate chemistry courses and a few high school honors courses, which focus on physical chemistry and quantum mechanics, are highly mathematically-oriented. At the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, we developed a new module for high school students, titled Chemistry – From “the Hole” to “the Whole”: From the Nanoscale to Microelectronics. The module is based on a qualitative approach to teaching quantum chemistry, emphasizing interdisciplinary real-life applications and integration of visualization. While aimed at honors high school chemistry students, the module was also partially implemented and assessed in an undergraduate chemistry course. The research objective was to investigate the effect of the module on the visual and textual understanding of quantum mechanical concepts among 122 honors and 65 volunteer undergraduate chemistry students. The research tools included students' pre- and post-questionnaires. High school honors and undergraduate students, who were exposed to the module, significantly improved their textual and visual understanding of quantum mechanical concepts and their ability to move across illustrations and explanations. Honors and undergraduate students minimized the gap that had existed between them in terms of integrating micro and quantum levels into their post-questionnaire answers. Our findings augment the current set of the four chemistry understanding levels – macro, micro, symbol and process – by adding the quantum mechanical level as a fifth level of chemistry understanding. The study contributes to teaching physical chemistry by providing a tool for learning, assessment, and research of chemistry understanding via both visual and textual modes.

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The article was received on 13 Jan 2014, accepted on 21 Feb 2014 and first published on 21 Feb 2014

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C4RP00025K
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Citation: Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2014,15, 297-310
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    Learning quantum chemistry via a visual-conceptual approach: students' bidirectional textual and visual understanding

    V. Dangur, S. Avargil, U. Peskin and Y. J. Dori, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2014, 15, 297
    DOI: 10.1039/C4RP00025K

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