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Engaging students in analyzing and interpreting data to construct mathematical models: an analysis of students’ reasoning in a method of initial rates task

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Abstract

Models related to the topic of chemical kinetics are critical for predicting and explaining chemical reactivity. Here we present a qualitative study of 15 general chemistry students’ reasoning about a method of initial rates task. We asked students to discuss their understanding of the terms rate law and initial rate, and then analyze rate and concentration data in order to construct a rate law. We also asked participants to critique rate laws constructed by hypothetical students. We discuss five patterns in the students’ approach to the method of initial rates task, ranging from the use of surface-features, such as stoichiometric coefficients in the construction of a rate law, to more sophisticated interpretations and mathematization of the trends in the data. Findings highlight specific difficulties with inter-related competences required to engage in the task, such as interpreting data and reasoning mathematically, and provide insight into assessment strategies for similar tasks.

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Publication details

The article was received on 07 Oct 2016, accepted on 04 Jul 2017 and first published on 05 Jul 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C6RP00205F
Citation: Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2017, Advance Article
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    Engaging students in analyzing and interpreting data to construct mathematical models: an analysis of students’ reasoning in a method of initial rates task

    N. M. Becker, C. A. Rupp and A. Brandriet, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2017, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C6RP00205F

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