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  • 1.
    Nilsson, Tor
    et al.
    Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication.
    Niedderer, Hans
    Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication.
    An analytical tool to determine undergraduate students’ use of volume and pressure when describing expansion work and technical work2012In: Chemistry Education Research and Practice, E-ISSN 1756-1108, Vol. 13, no 3, p. 348-356Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In undergraduate chemical thermodynamics teachers often include equations and viewmanipulations of variables as understanding. Undergraduate students are often not able todescribe the meaning of these equations. In chemistry, enthalpy and its change are introduced todescribe some features of chemical reactions. In the process of measuring heat at constantpressure, work is often disregarded. Therefore, we investigated how undergraduate studentsdescribe expansion work and technical work in relation to enthalpy and its change. Threeempirical studies (ntot = 64, ntot = 22, ntot = 10) with undergraduate chemistry students takingtheir first or fifth chemistry course at two Swedish universities were conducted. Questions onenthalpy and its change, internal energy and its change, heat and work were administered inquestionnaires, exam questions, hand-ins and interviews. An analytical matrix was developed andqualitative categories with respect to pressure and volume were formed. The results indicate thatwork in general and even more so expansion work and technical work are difficult processes todescribe and relate to the definition and formula of enthalpy change. Work is mainly describedwithout reference to pressure and volume. The properties of volume are more likely to bedescribed correctly than the properties of pressure. The definition of enthalpy change at constantpressure is generalised to constant volume/varying pressure cases. This study gives further insightinto the way in which students use pressure and volume as they describe expansion work andtechnical work as well as the contextual correctness of these descriptions. The matrix andcategories can be used by researchers, teachers and students.

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  • 2.
    Nilsson, Tor
    et al.
    Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication, Educational Sciences and Mathematics.
    Niedderer, Hans
    Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication, Educational Sciences and Mathematics.
    Undergraduate students’ conceptions of enthalpy, enthalpy change and related concepts2014In: Chemistry Education Research and Practice, E-ISSN 1756-1108, Vol. 15, no 3, p. 336-353Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Research shows that students have problems understanding thermodynamic concepts and that a gap exists at the tertiary level related to more specific chemistry concepts such as enthalpy. Therefore, the aim of this study is to construct undergraduate students’ conceptions of enthalpy, its change and related concepts. Three explorative small-scale studies were conducted at two Swedish universities. Questionnaires, exam questions, hand-ins and interviews covered a range of issues from chemical thermodynamics in general to specific questions about enthalpy and its change, internal energy and its change, heat and work. Data were analysed iteratively and qualitative categories were constructed (F1-2, F4-9). The underlying conceptions indicate that constant pressure is explicitly expressed but disregarded as the answer is given (F1), that work is described as mechanical work (F2), that enthalpy is used as a form of energy (F4), and that enthalpy is used for enthalpy change and vice versa (F5). The logical conceptions indicate that molar enthalpy determines the heat given off by a reaction and not the path taken (F6), that constant pressure/constant volume and the definition of enthalpy change are problematic (F7), that students argue for the case when ΔH = ΔU instead of ΔH = q (F8), and that there are different ways to interpret the given tasks (F9). This study offers insight into the ways students use enthalpy and its change when arguing and solving qualitative tasks. How the categories may be used as well as other implications for teaching and research are addressed in the paper.

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  • 3.
    Stadig Degerman, Mari
    et al.
    Linköpings universitet, Institutionen för teknik och naturvetenskap.
    Tibell, Lena A. E.
    Linköpings universitet, Medie- och Informationsteknik.
    Learning Goals and Conceptual Difficulties in Cell Metabolism: An explorative study of university lectures' views2012In: Chemistry Education Research and Practice, E-ISSN 1756-1108, Vol. 13, no 4, p. 447-461Article in journal (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The rapid development and increasing inter- and multi-disciplinarity of life sciences call for revisions of life science course curricula, recognizing (inter alia) the need to compromise between covering specific phenomena and general processes/principles. For these reasons there have been several initiatives to standardize curricula, and various authors have assessed general curricular requirements. The results have shown that teacher preferences strongly influence both topic arrangement and course content, and generating consensus among scientists and lecturers is challenging. Applying a somewhat different approach, we have focused on a limited part of the curriculum (cell metabolism). Using Delphi methodology, in four rounds of surveys we investigated phenomena that 15 experienced, practicing lecturers consider to be central aspects for students to learn in the cell metabolism module of an introductory university course.

    The overall aim was to identify learning goals of special concern, i.e. aspects considered by the teachers to be both central and difficult for students to understand. Our informants emphasized learning goals of overarching and principal type, e.g. to be able to couple different system levels (from molecules to cells to organisms) and grasp the interactions between them. However, they also expect detailed knowledge, e.g. to know the structure of central biomolecules and metabolites. The main result of the study is a ranked list of learning goals of special concern in cell metabolism. We also identified both important learning goals and difficulties that have not been previously reported (even though they are covered by most textbooks), e.g. that energy production occurs in well-regulated steps and the necessity of proximity and common intermediates for coupled reactions.

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