When atoms want

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Chemistry students and teachers often explain the chemical reactivity of atoms, molecules, and chemical substances in terms of purposes or needs (e.g., atoms want or need to gain, lose, or share electrons in order to become more stable). These teleological explanations seem to have pedagogical value as they help students understand and use abstract chemical models. They may, however, become a roadblock in developing mechanistic understandings of the structure and properties of chemical systems. I explore the explanatory preferences of college students with different levels of training in chemistry to determine the extent to which they prefer teleological explanations over causal explanations. Major results revealed a strong preference at all the targeted educational levels for explanations that invoke intentionality as a driver for chemical reactivity. I discuss the educational implications of these findings and invite chemistry educators to reflect on these issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1419-1424
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Volume90
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 12 2013

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Chemical reactivity
Students
Atoms
chemistry
student
Molecules
Electrons
driver
educator
teacher
Values

Keywords

  • Analogies/Transfer
  • Chemical Education Research
  • Curriculum
  • General Public

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Education

Cite this

When atoms want. / Talanquer, Vicente A.

In: Journal of Chemical Education, Vol. 90, No. 11, 12.11.2013, p. 1419-1424.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Talanquer, Vicente A. / When atoms want. In: Journal of Chemical Education. 2013 ; Vol. 90, No. 11. pp. 1419-1424.
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