Teaching and learning chemical bonding: research-based evidence for misconceptions and conceptual difficulties experienced by students in upper secondary schools and the effect of an enriched text†
Chemical bonding is a fundamental but complex topic, which has traditionally been associated with learning difficulties, misunderstandings, and misconceptions. This paper reviews some previous studies, concerning students’ conceptual difficulties and reports the findings from a research study with Greek students, which set out to examine their knowledge and understanding of a number of key concepts related to bonding. Three student samples were studied; one consisted of tenth-grade students from three public schools, the second contained first-year chemistry and biology students at the beginning of their university courses, and the third involved tenth-grade students from a prestigious private school. The students generally exhibited limited knowledge and possessed certain misconceptions, with the private school and the university students demonstrating better knowledge than the public school students. A quasi-experimental research design was employed using students from the private school, with some students used as a control group and others as a treatment group. The control group was taught using the standard Greek chemistry textbook, while the treatment group used enriched teaching material. It was found that while the two groups demonstrated similar performance for many bonding concepts, the treatment group did show superior knowledge with respect to a number of issues, such as the role of electrostatic interactions, electronegativity, and bond polarity.