Session S39a (Tuesday, 9:30am, Thomas 117)

P373: Theory gone bad? Graduate students’ difficulties in solving organic chemistry problems

Gautam Bhattacharyya (Clemson University, USA)

In the past decade, we have conducted several qualitative studies of chemistry graduate students as they attempted to solve different types of organic chemistry problems. As a result of these studies, which were conducted in three different institutions across the United States, we noted six recurrent alternative conceptions that have been particularly deleterious to the participants’ problem-solving efforts. As a group these misconceptions are consistent with a deterministic approach to predicting outcomes of chemical reactions along with a disregard of emergence in complex systems. In addition to presenting the students’ alternative conceptions, I will propose some ways in which stochastic and systems reasoning may be used to address these obstacles to success in organic chemistry problem-solving.

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