Beth Lindquist, Lizanne DeStefano, Thom Dunning, David Woon (University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign, USA)
The current models widely used in general chemistry courses to explain chemical bonding and molecular structure, such as Lewis structures and VSEPR, are dated and don’t reflect a more sophisticated understanding of these concepts that have been garnered from modern quantum chemistry. Often, the important connection between atomic orbitals and molecular structure is not conveyed to the students. To elucidate student misconceptions about these topics, an extensive survey was administered to students in general chemistry courses at the University of Illinois. Questions tested understanding of concepts such as molecular structure, polarity, chemical bonding, and orbitals. The results of this assessment, and its implications for the general chemistry curriculum, will be discussed. Our group is developing a module covering atoms, bonding, and molecules based on building molecules from atomic orbital diagrams. The efficacy of our material will be assessed with an instrument that draws from the questions described in this talk.