Students' learning with the connected chemistry (CC1) curriculum: Navigating the complexities of the particulate world

Sharona T. Levy, Uri Wilensky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The focus of this study is students' learning with a Connected Chemistry unit, CC1 (denotes Connected Chemistry, chapter 1), a computer-based environment for learning the topics of gas laws and kinetic molecular theory in chemistry (Levy and Wilensky 2009). An investigation was conducted into high-school students' learning with Connected Chemistry, based on a conceptual framework that highlights several forms of access to understanding the system (submicro, macro, mathematical, experiential) and bidirectional transitions among these forms, anchored at the common and experienced level, the macro-level. Results show a strong effect size for embedded assessment and a medium effect size regarding pre-post-test questionnaires. Stronger effects are seen for understanding the submicroscopic level and bridging between it and the macroscopic level. More than half the students succeeded in constructing the equations describing the gas laws. Significant shifts were found in students' epistemologies of models: understanding models as representations rather than replicas of reality and as providing multiple perspectives. Students' learning is discussed with respect to the conceptual framework and the benefits of assessment of learning using a fine-tuned profile and further directions for research are proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-254
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Science Education and Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments We thank Michael Novak, the lead curriculum developer who collaborated with us in forming the curriculum, Phillip Cook who taught several classes with early research versions, Reuven Lerner and Spiro Maroulis, who contributed to the data collection and analyses, Paulo Blikstein and Pratim Sengupta, who participated in enacting the curriculum and in data collection, members of the Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling who have supported us in many ways, and our collaborators at Concord Consortium, Barbara Buckley, Janice Gobert, Paul Horwitz and Ed Hazzard and members of the MAC project team. Modeling Across the Curriculum was funded by the Interagency Education Research Initiative (IERI), a jointly supported project of the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Education and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, under NSF Grant No. REC-0115699. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding agencies. This paper continues and expands the authors’ AERA 2006 paper titled Students’ foraging through the complexities of the particulate world in the Connected Chemistry curriculum.


  • Agent-based models
  • Chemistry education
  • Complex systems
  • Computer models
  • Concept formation
  • Gas laws

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering


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