Kereen Monteyne (Northern Kentucky University, USA), Barbara L. Gonzalez (California State University – Fullerton, USA)
Investigators from Northern Kentucky University and California State University Fullerton are designing a series of integrated laboratory activities that scaffold students’ development of cognitive skills to support conceptual understanding in general chemistry. The laboratory activities target cognitive skills specific to inquiry-based learning in the laboratory, and target the abilities of students to transform concepts between macroscopic, particulate and symbolic representations. In this NSF-funded project, laboratory activities are being developed using a Learning Continuum Framework, which describes a developmental progression of cognitive and conceptual learning objectives scaffolded across the three inquiry approaches of structured, guided and open. The laboratory instructional materials focus on four concept domains in first-term general chemistry: physical and chemical change, stoichiometry, solutions, and gases. To date we have developed a structured inquiry activity in the area of physical-chemical change that is being implemented during the spring 2012 semester. Preliminary results will be discussed.