Making decisions about the production and use of chemical substances is of central importance in many fields. In this study, a research team comprising teachers and educational researchers collaborated in collecting and analyzing cognitive interviews with students from 8th grade through first-year university general chemistry in an effort to map progression in students' ability to make decisions about the consequences of using and producing chemicals. Study participants were asked to explain their reasoning about which fuel would be best to power a small vehicle. Data were analyzed using a "chemical thinking" lens to characterize conceptual sophistication and complexity of reasoning. Results revealed that most reasoning was intuitive in conceptual sophistication and relational in argumentative nature, driven by the consequences of using the fuels based on their composition. Implications are discussed for the design of learning experiences and assessments that better support students' development of decision-making using chemical knowledge.
- Chemical Education Research
- Elementary/Middle School Science
- High School/Introductory Chemistry
- Problem Solving/Decision-Making
ASJC Scopus subject areas