Three-dimensional molecular models and the learning of atomic structure, chemical bonding, and valency theory at the secondary level in chemistry
Goldberg, Harris Paul
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The use of three-dimensional molecular models to elucidate many of the unobservable properties of atoms and molecules has constantly been recommended. This study compares two methods of teaching atomic structure and valency theory at the secondary school level in chemistry - one method using models, the other method not using models. Six suburban high schools consisting of 18 chemistry classes and 449 students were divided into two groups - control and experimental. Both groups were taught a five-week unit on atomic structure, valency, and bonding theory. All students used the same chemistry text book and each teacher followed the same outline and syllabus. The experimental schools used colored three-dimensional molecular models; whereas the control schools were restricted to the use of the blackboard as the only visual aid. The control and experimental groups were kept separate to minimize class carry-over and interchange. The otis Quick Scoring Test of Intelligence and the Sequential Test of Educational Progress in Science Form 2B were administered as pretests. Levels of significance were established among the means for the two tests. The scores failed to reveal any significant differences between the control and experimental groups. The author's instrument - an Atomic Structure and Valency Achievement Test - was administered to all students at the completion of the five-week unit. This instrument was shown to possess a reliability coefficient sufficiently high to warrant its use as a test for measuring achievement of the particular unit under study. The reliability coefficient was calculated to be 0.725 based on the difficulty and intercorrelation of the test items. The achievement test on atomic structure and valency theory consisted of eighty items. These eighty items were selected from a group of 120 items which had been correlated with the unit material. Ninety items were selected by a committee of chemistry teachers not involved in the study. Eighty of the best items were selected and were administered to 150 chemistry students in a pilot stuqy. Each item was then examined for content and wording. Needed corrections were made and a final test was constructed. A simple analysis of variance model and t-tests showed that there were statistically significant differences found in the experimental groups which have been exposed to the molecular models. These differences were based on the use of the author's instrument as the criterion. The use of the three-dimensional molecular models in the experimental group produced higher achievement as measured by the Atomic Structure and Chemical Bonding Achievement Test. The average mean difference between scores on this 80-item test between the control and experimental groups was almost 20 points. Thus students exposed to the models in this study were more prepared to comprehend some of the unobservable characteristics of atoms and molecules.
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RightsCopyright 1967 by Harris Paul Goldberg