Session S55b (Tuesday, 5:15pm, Willaman Gateway)

P605: Constructing versus using pre-built models: An analysis of the role of concrete models in increasing student performance on representational translation tasks in organic chemistry

Jeffrey Olimpo, Bonnie Dixon (University of Maryland – College Park, USA)

Representations are utilized extensively in Organic Chemistry to depict the micromolecular world.  Research suggests that providing students with access to concrete models facilitates their ability to understand and manipulate these representations, as well as translate between diagrammatic forms.  However, little is known about the differences providing pre-built models versus requiring de novo construction of such models has on student learning.  Here, we adopted a mixed methods approach to address this concern.  Participants (n= 108) were asked to complete a representational translation problem solving set, as well as take part in a semi-structured interview.  Data suggest that students who used pre-built models on more than 50% of the problems performed significantly better than both non-users (p = 0.033) and the model-construction cohort (p = 0.026).  Interview data suggest that this latter observation may be due to a lack of instruction on how to correctly construct models to perform such translation tasks.

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