The efficacy of interactive analogical models in the instruction of bond energy curves in undergraduate chemistry†
We explored analogies used for introducing students to the concept of potential energy wells. Two analogy systems were developed, a spring system and a novel system consisting of electrostatic spheres. These two, distinct analogies were housed within an interactive tool that allowed students to manipulate the analogous systems and witness changes to potential energy curves in real time. A pre-test/post-test evaluation provided insight into the impact the formulation of an analogy system can have on understanding. Students modified written descriptions to include new details in accordance to the structure-mapping theory of analogies. However, students failed to correct visual descriptions of energy wells. The failure of participants to apply key concepts after using the interactive and animated analogy systems highlights the importance of designing for education.