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Issue 4, 2016
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Students' mental models of atomic spectra

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Abstract

Mental modeling, which is a theory about knowledge organization, has been recently studied by science educators to examine students' understanding of scientific concepts. This qualitative study investigates undergraduate students' mental models of atomic spectra. Nine second-year physics students, who have already taken the basic chemistry and chemistry laboratory application courses, participated in the study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the participants. The analysis revealed that students had four types of coherently organized knowledge structures: the Scientific Model of Atomic Spectra (SMAS), the Primitive Scientific Model of Atomic Spectra (PSMAS), No Photon Model (NPM), and the Orbit Model (OM). Identified mental models indicated that students used some fundamental concepts interchangeably, and “electronic transition” and “photon energy” were the threshold concepts for students' scientific understanding of atomic spectra.

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Publication details

The article was received on 25 Feb 2016, accepted on 04 May 2016 and first published on 20 May 2016


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C6RP00051G
Citation: Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2016,17, 743-755
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    Students' mental models of atomic spectra

    N. D. Körhasan and L. Wang, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2016, 17, 743
    DOI: 10.1039/C6RP00051G

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