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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Sequencing instruction in chemistry : simulation or traditional first? Pillay, Sharmila


The purpose of this study is to investigate how a technology-enhanced lesson based on the principles of model-based teaching and learning can contribute to student understanding of two challenging topics in chemistry: Le Chatelier’s Principle and Chemical Equilibrium. A computer simulation program was utilized that contained multiple digital representations, such as: a chemical formula view, a slider view, a graph view, a description view, a prediction view, a molecular view and a dynamic analogy view. The study also addressed the sequencing of instruction, changing when computer simulation was introduced in two chemistry 12 classes (n=46). One class of 22 students received instruction in a traditional form (lecture, labs) and then interacted with the simulation and the other class of 24 students interacted with simulations first and then received a traditional form of instruction. Both the classes participated in a pre-test, mid-test, post-test, surveys and interviews designed to assess students’ conceptual understanding of chemical equilibrium. Statistical analysis of the tests revealed that a computer simulation such as Technology-Enhanced Model-Based Science (TEMBS) promoted understanding by supporting the generation of more scientifically accurate models of chemical equilibrium. Secondly, there was a significant improvement in test results of students who received instruction in a traditional form first and then interacted with simulations compared with students who interacted with simulations first and then received traditional instruction. According to the surveys, students in both classes listed teacher discussions in class as one of the three most important contributions to their learning. An implication of this study for science educators and educational technologists is that computer simulations such as TEMBS simulation which utilize multiple representations including a dynamic analogy can assist students in their understanding of abstract concepts such as Le Chatelier’s principle and can be more effective if introduced after a full discussion of the concept and notes.

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