This article concerns a lacuna in chemistry students' reasoning about chemical bonding. Although chemistry students are familiar with the charges that make up the atom––both positive and negative––they refer only to the attraction between unlike charges. Specifically, they ignore the repulsion between the positive nuclei. We named this disregard of repulsion the lacuna of repulsion. Repulsion is a crucial component in the force-based explanation of chemical bonding, presenting the bond as a dynamic equilibrium between attraction and repulsion electrical forces. We noticed this lacuna incidentally while interviewing chemistry students for a bigger project aimed at supporting students in understanding the force-based explanation of chemical bonding. This article describes our systematic qualitative study of the lacuna of repulsion and its impact on mental models of 23 high school chemistry students. Our findings show that students use six mental models, most of them built upon each other. Beginning from a simple mental model that describes the chemical bond as electrons, continuing with the including attraction forces, and completing with repulsion and a dynamic view of the bond. Only when one considers both attraction and repulsion forces and understands the dynamic balance between them is it possible to build the force-based dynamic mental model of chemical bonding.
|Number of pages||24|
|Journal||Journal of Research in Science Teaching|
|State||Published - Sep 2019|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Special thanks to Mrs. Elisheva Geva, the chemistry teacher who welcomed the first author into her chemistry classes. Observing Elisheva and her students helped me become aware of students' questions and confusions. Moreover, in the later years, Elisheva has shown us how adopting some of the explanations of repulsion forces and integrating them into her teaching could enhance learning. We would like to thank Shira Raviv, who joined the research team and contributed to the coding and analysis. We thank Danielle Menuhin for her invaluable help in explaining the logic behind the visual clustering analysis.
© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- chemical bonding
- mental model
ASJC Scopus subject areas