Chemistry Vlogs: a Vehicle for Student-Generated Representations and Explanations to Scaffold their Understanding of Structure - Property Relationships

Gwen Lawrie, Emma Bartle

Abstract


Students in tertiary-level introductory chemistry courses often don’t progress beyond poorly structured mental models of chemical concepts since these novice chemistry learners have little time to construct meaning or acquire representational competence during a 13-week content-rich semester. Additionally, many of these students are unmotivated, enrolled only because chemistry is a program requirement.

To encourage engagement, students were required to create 2-3 minute video blogs (vlogs) in which they explained the structure and properties of a molecule/substance that was personally relevant supported by a representation of the structure as a visual aid. The learning design drew on constructivist theories and aimed to enhance student engagement through developing a personal connection to chemistry. The aim was also to strengthen understanding of chemical structures through external representations and explanations.

Twenty-one students consented to analysis of their vlog content. A relationship was identified between the type of representations students adopted and the depth of their explanation. Students who had created and interacted with their hand-made physical models, using hand gestures to highlight features of their structural representation, produced higher-level explanations of structure – property relationships. Lower-level explanations were associated with students who used static graphical images sourced online. Factors related to chemical vocabulary and misconception diagnosis were also explored during analysis.

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