Title

The Change In Students' Understanding of the Mole Concept In Introductory College Chemistry

Date of Award

1998

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Center for Science and Math Education

First Advisor

Rosalina V. Hairston

Advisor Department

Center for Science and Math Education

Abstract

This study investigated the difference between the students' understanding of the mole concept in chemistry at the beginning and at the end of the first semester of introductory chemistry courses. The study also identified the relationship between the criterion variable understanding of the mole concept in chemistry and the independent variables of cognitive level, type of introductory college chemistry class, and the number of lectures spent teaching the mole concept. In addition, this study examined (a) the students' misconceptions and (b) the aspects of the traditional teaching methods used in the introductory college chemistry courses that helped the students' understanding of the mole concept. This study was conducted using 180 volunteer students in their first semester of an introductory college chemistry course. These students were given a pretest instrument called the Mole Concepts Examination (MCE) to measure their understanding of the mole concept, the Group Assessment of Logical Thinking (GALT) to measure the students' cognitive level of logical thinking, and a posttest of the MCE to measure the students' understanding of the mole concept at the end of the semester. In addition, an interview was given to a selected group of 18 students to find out if the students remember the teaching techniques used to help them understand the mole concept and to determine some of the misconceptions that the students retained at the end of the semester. Results indicated a statistically significant relationship between students' understanding of the mole concept and their cognitive level. There was no significant relationship between students' understanding of the mole concept and the type of class, or the number of lectures spent teaching the mole concept. Qualitative results indicated that students were able to explain their answers to the posttest questions; students were able to identify some instructional techniques that helped them to understand the mole concept, and students of all cognitive levels retained misconceptions about the mole concept at the end of the semester.