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CREATE Science Seminar Speaker: Dr. Marcy Towns

November 29, 2017 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EST

Title: Blending chemical and mathematical knowledge as solve problems in chemical kinetics

Abstract: Answering recent calls for discipline-based education research and interdisciplinary work, this study seeks to investigate how students integrate chemistry and mathematics during problem-solving in chemical kinetics, a context that has little attention in the literature. This work investigates the following research question: In what ways do chemistry and mathematics knowledge interact as students engage in chemical kinetics problem-solving? Personal constructs, a blend of personal and social constructivism, served as the theoretical framework for this study, which involved semi-structured interviews using a think-aloud protocol with 36 general chemistry students, 5 upper-level physical chemistry students, and 3 chemical engineering students. Audio and written data were collected using a Livescribe pen, which was then combined to create interpreted narratives for each student. Blended processing, a theory from cognitive science that characterizes human knowledge integration, was used as a methodological framework to guide the analysis. Open coding revealed themes relating to common topics that were discussed when blending occurred; variation in the depth of blending was also characterized. Results provide implications for supporting student problem solving and the modeling of chemical processes.


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