Research papers, articles and letters from issues 1 and 2

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Issue 1, May 2003

Prospective teachers’ conceptual understanding of electrochemistry: galvanic and electrolytic cells

Paper | Ali Riza Özkaya, Musa Üce and Musa Şahin

This study investigated prospective chemistry teachers’ conceptual difficulties in understanding basic aspects of electrochemistry related to galvanic and electrolytic cells. It was conducted with ninety-two prospective teachers who were students in the final year class at Marmara University, Atatürk Faculty of Education and had received both classroom and laboratory instruction on electrochemistry for about three and a half months. Fifteen volunteers from among the group were first interviewed for about 40–45 minutes. After the interviews, a test of 27 multiple-choice questions, consisting of assertion-reason statements and a set of alternative answers, was administered to all subjects. This study was able to identify new electrochemical misconceptions as well as some of those previously reported. The results show that students from different countries and different levels of electrochemistry study have similar difficulties and suggest that concepts are presented to them poorly. It also discusses some of the possible origins of these misconceptions.

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Learning from problem based learning

Paper | Alison M. Mackenzie, Alex H. Johnstone and R. Iain F. Brown

There is increased interest in Problem Based Learning (PBL) as a teaching and learning method in the sciences. This paper describes the form of PBL currently in use in a medical school where PBL is the main method for learning the content of the course and for generating self-driven, independent learning and for fostering the skills of organisation and communication. The course has been independently evaluated to discover if the claims for PBL can be substantiated. The PBL technique and the evaluation results are presented here and suggestions are made about how this might be applied to the teaching and learning of the sciences.

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Malpractices in chemical calculations

Perspective | Joe Lee

Chemistry undergraduates are frequently guilty of faulty or inefficient practices in performing physicochemical calculations, possibly leading to incorrect answers, both in the processing of laboratory data and in answers to tutorial/examination questions. The purpose of this article is to draw attention to some of the more common malpractices, but more importantly, to provide a framework for good practice in teaching students how to perform chemical calculations.

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A simple and general method to draw resonance forms

Communication | José Vicente

At present there is no simple, systematic and general method to generate all resonance forms. Most reported methods apply only to simple molecules or require the use of mathematical formulae or complex rules. This communication reports a simple and general method to write resonance forms of any molecule or ion, simple or not, linear, branched or cyclic, containing any s– and p–block elements without using mathematical formulae or rules difficult to remember.

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The mythical dependence of boiling points on molecular mass

Letter | Ronald L. Rich

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Issue 2, October 2003

Problem solving: the difference between what we do and what we tell students to do

Proceedings | George M. Bodner

Over the course of about 20 years, the author has worked with roughly a dozen graduate students pursuing M.S. or Ph.D. degrees in chemical education whose studies focused on different aspects of problem solving. It is the results of these students work that serves as the basis for this paper.

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The classic HCl experiment: how long is the hydrogen–chlorine bond?

Paper | Vladimir Zholobenko

The analysis of the rotational-vibrational spectra of hydrogen chloride has been utilised over many years to provide valuable learning experience for chemistry students. This paper describes a physical chemistry laboratory mini-project based on the classic HCl experiment as an example of enquiry-based learning aiming to achieve a better understanding of molecular spectroscopy by the students and to enhance their problem solving and independent learning skills. A number of mini-projects have now been introduced to our spectroscopy and physical chemistry courses. In addition to improving students’ knowledge of the subject, problem solving and team working skills, they also bridge the gap between scripted practicals in the first year teaching laboratory and the research projects conducted by our students in their final year at Keele.

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Evaluation of higher vs. lower-order cognitive skills-type examinations in chemistry: implications for university in-class assessment and examinations

Perspective | Georgios Tsaparlis and Uri Zoller

The absence of sufficient, convincing, research-based documentation is often quoted as an argument against any change in the currently dominant lower-order cognitive skills (LOCS)-type examinations. Our aim with this paper is the fostering of higher-order cognitive skills (HOCS) learning, based on three relevant research studies: two conducted in Greece, and one in Israel.

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  • ‘Quantity algebra (calculus) – some observations’ | Jack Hoppé
  • ‘Conceptual understanding of electricity: galvanic and electrolytic cells’ | Alan Goodwin

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About University Chemistry Education

Published between 1997 and 2004 by the Royal Society of Chemistry, University Chemistry Education explored methods, ideas and issues facing teachers of chemistry in higher education, bringing together research, opinion, reviews and letters.