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

P375: Student understanding of the particulate nature of oxidation-reduction reactions

Alexandra Brandriet, Stacey Lowery Bretz (Miami University, USA)

Students lack a firm understanding of a topic usually taught during the first semester of general chemistry: oxidation-reduction reactions (redox). Many textbooks teach symbolic equations and rules for determining oxidation numbers as the primary tools for learning redox concepts, leaving students with rote memorized definitions and a superficial understanding of a complex topic that has a strong particulate and macroscopic foundation. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 39 undergraduate chemistry students to probe how well students grasp the symbolic, macroscopic, and particulate properties of oxidation-reduction reactions. This presentation will discuss alternative conceptions that emerged during analysis, specifically regarding particulate properties of redox reactions. Students’ understandings of aqueous solutions, the role of the spectator ions, and electron transfer in redox reactions will be examined. Implications for teaching will be discussed.


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