Reasoning using particulate nature of matter: An example of a sociochemical norm in a university-level physical chemistry class
In college level chemistry courses, reasoning using molecular and particulate descriptions of matter becomes central to understanding physical and chemical properties. In this study, we used a qualitative approach to analyzing classroom discourse derived from Toulmin's model of argumentation in order to describe the ways in which students develop particulate-level justifications for claims about thermodynamic properties. Our analysis extends the construct of sociomathematical norms to a chemistry context in order to describe disciplinary criteria for reasoning and justification, which we refer to as sociochemical norms. By examining how whole class and small group discussions shape norms related to reasoning, we provide suggestions for teaching practices in inquiry-oriented settings.