Session S5a (Sunday, 2pm, Life Sciences 009)

P28: Molecular visualization: How students use representations to determine molecular polarity.

Mark Wathen (Snow College, USA)

General chemistry students are exposed to a variety of molecular representations.  There are the traditional static representations common to many textbooks; Lewis structures, dash-wedge, ball-and-stick, space filling, etc.  There are also computer models available that represent the molecule as an interactive structure.  This study focuses on how students use these representations when determining the polarity of a molecule.  Students in this study used Lewis structures, ball-and-stick models, and a web-based molecular modeling program, Models 360, to explore molecular polarity during a laboratory activity.  Students were interviewed to investigate how they used these representations while determining molecular polarity.  The results of these interviews will be presented and implications for teaching discussed.

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