Student-generated PowerPoint animations: a study of student teachers’ conceptions of molecular motions through their expressed models†
Student-generated drawings are known to be effective in building and revealing students’ conceptions of chemistry. Some chemistry concepts, moreover, include changes and processes that cannot be merely represented by static drawings. Computer-based animations are needed to represent the dynamics. In this study, 25 chemistry student teachers, who had studied the concept of molecular motions and had taken the course of Chemistry Instructional Media and Technology, were assigned to make expressed models of water molecules’ motions in the form of animations with PowerPoint, the most familiar program and installed on students’ computers. Students were also assigned to give written explanations of the three molecular motions. Within one month, both tasks were due simultaneously. Students’ expressed models were analysed based on Custom Animation features used for the animations, while students’ written explanations were analysed based on the typology of the sentences. It was found that all students appeared to hold correct conceptions of translation; many students appeared to hold correct conceptions of rotation; and almost all students appeared to hold misconceptions of vibration. There was no substantial difference between PowerPoint Animations and written explanations in revealing students’ conceptions of molecular motions. However, there were several inconsistencies of students’ conceptions that occurred in both tasks. For example, several students who incorrectly explained rotation as circular movements displayed a spinning of the particle on its own axis in the animation. Students’ expressed models in PowerPoint Animations provided other information unrevealed in their written explanations. These pieces of information included types of molecular motion in different phases, simultaneous motions, and deflections of molecules after collisions. The analysis of students’ expressed models in PowerPoint Animations can be an effective approach to reveal students’ conceptions of molecular dynamics if accompanied by adequate tutorials on the animation program, clear instructions, and guidance to get learning resources.