In this essay, findings from research in science and chemistry education are used to describe and discuss progression in students' structure-property reasoning through schooling. This work provides insights into the challenges that students face to master this important component of chemical thinking. The analysis reveals that student reasoning is often guided by nonnormative implicit schemas that are little affected by traditional instruction. These schemas prioritize chemical composition over molecular structure, and centralized causality over emergence in the explanation and prediction of the properties of substances. The types of components that students invoke to make sense of properties and phenomena may change with schooling, but the underlying reasoning persists. In general, learners assume that observed properties and behaviors are directly related to the types of atoms present in a system and determined by these individual atoms' inherent characteristics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemistry (miscellaneous)