Students' associations between microscopic models and macroscopic events in chemistry
Du Plooy, Susara Johanna.
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Phase changes are one of the events in chemistry that are often misunderstood by entry level chemistry students. A possible cause of misconceptions is students' disability to visualise basic concepts such as atoms, ions and molecules. Along with these inabilities, students have a tendency to make literal deductions from models used in teaching materials. This study aims to investigate first year natural science education students' association between microscopic models and macroscopic events such as phase changes in chemistry. An empirical study consisting of a mixed method triangular design was conducted on first year education students of the North–West University, Potchefstroom Campus. The investigation was done by means of a questionnaire and interviews. The results of the study were used to identify learning problems that these students have in connection to attributing macroscopic characteristics to microscopic events in phase changes. The results indicated that students encounter problems with visualisation of basic concepts such as atoms, ions and molecules as well as incorrect transfer of macroscopic characteristics to microscopic events. This has a negative impact on a student's understanding of events such as phase changes in chemistry.