Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Undergraduate students' beliefs about the nature of matter
by Weller, Jessica K., M.S., Purdue University, 2008, 294; 1469791
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to determine how undergraduate students described different forms of matter, how they explained different properties of matter, and how they explained the processes of phase change and dissolution. The second purpose of this study was to compare the findings from the undergraduate students to the findings of elementary students and middle school students from previous studies. Fourteen undergraduate students, from a major mid-western university and with a wide range of science backgrounds were interviewed individually. Each participant was shown an object and asked to describe that object as well as create drawings of their descriptions. Later in the interview, participants were asked about properties and process those objects could undergo. Again, they were asked to create drawings to further their explanations. I found that one participant exhibited a macro-continuous and macro-particulate nature of matter framework. Eleven participants exhibited nature of matter frameworks that were mixture of micro-particulate and macro-particulate ideas. And two of the students exhibited fully micro-particulate nature of matter frameworks. The number of micro-particulate descriptions and explanations increased from the numbers found in both the elementary and middle school students. I also found that the undergraduate students were consistent and coherent in their descriptions and explanations. This was a contrast to the middle school students, who exhibited inconsistent frameworks. The elementary school children exhibited consisted frameworks, however they were macro-continuous in nature. Further research should be done to determine instructional strategies that would be useful in relaying the micro-particulate ideas of the nature of matter.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nakhleh, Mary B.
Commitee: Capobianco, Brenda, Simpson, Garth
School: Purdue University
Department: Chemistry
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: MAI 48/02M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Chemistry, Science education
Keywords: Chemistry undergraduate students, Nature of matter
Publication Number: 1469791
ISBN: 978-1-109-42108-8
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