Improving Student Reasoning on Molecular Interactions Using the Context of Drug Development in Chemistry Education
Bosch, L. van den
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The goal of this study was to evaluate to what extent a curriculum unit helps students to improve their reasoning concerning molecular interactions. Chemical models are very important in order for students to make sense of the abstract concepts of molecules and their interactions. An authentic practice, in this study a drug development case, is expected to enhance student understanding and reasoning. Furthermore, ICT-tools can be helpful in the classroom to help students better understand molecular interactions. A curriculum unit for the upper grades in high school (5vwo) was designed that focuses on molecular modeling with ArgusLab. Students were challenged to find an alternative drug molecule for malaria, applying their chemistry knowledge concerning molecular interactions such as hydrogen bonds. By creating worksheets and a think aloud protocol, data was obtained and analyzed using a measuring instrument that scored their reasoning level from 1 to 4. This measuring instrument was created based on expert interviews. It can be concluded that students improve in their reasoning from level 0 or 1 towards level 2 or 3. The curriculum unit helps students to improve their understanding of molecular models and their interactions, which confirms previous results on authentic practices in molecular modeling. Further research should focus on using this knowledge to develop modeling practices in other chemistry subjects and specifically studying the effect of the use of an ICT-tool such as ArgusLab.