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Development of a Four-Tier Diagnostic Instrument in Chemical Kinetics (FTDICK) to investigate first-year students’ understanding and misconceptions in the area

Habiddin, (2018) Development of a Four-Tier Diagnostic Instrument in Chemical Kinetics (FTDICK) to investigate first-year students’ understanding and misconceptions in the area. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

Many undergraduate chemistry students harbour misconceptions in chemical kinetics and this an lead to further difficulty when embarking on more advanced studies in the area at the tertiary level. Chemistry educators are advised to identify misconceptions experienced by their students before they embark on new teaching. However, students’ misconceptions cannot easily be identified by simple tests such as multiple-choice tests. Such misconceptions can only be investigated by specifically designed diagnostic instruments. This study was aimed to develop a Four-Tier Diagnostic Instrument in Chemical Kinetics (FTDICK) and to test it with students from universities in the UK and Indonesia to identify typical misconceptions in chemical kinetics. The body of this study was conducted in three stages. The first stage (preliminary study) involved 591 chemistry students in the UK and Indonesia. The primary purpose of this stage was to collect students’ misconceptions and lack of knowledge. Some typical students’ misconceptions, lack of knowledge and other unscientific explanations have been uncovered. These findings were used as reason options in the “prototype of the FTDICK instrument.” This prototype instrument was used in the next stage which was the pilot study. In the pilot study, 271 first-year students in two Indonesian Universities participated. The primary purpose of this stage was to validate the prototype of the FTDICK. The reliability of the prototype of the FTDICK instrument is 0.85 and falls into the excellent category. Most items in the instrument were found to be valid with a 95% significance level. These results showed that this instrument is valid and reliable and could be used in the main study. However, some revisions were needed to improve the validity and the reliability of the instrument. The revised instrument which was produced at this stage was called "The FTDICK instrument.” The last stage (main study) involved first-year chemistry students in the UK and Indonesia and used in this stage was the final FTDICK instrument. The final FTDICK instrument showed a better validity and reliability rather than the prototype one with a reliability of 0.91. The validity indices of items for the FTDICK instrument are also higher than the indices of the prototype one. This implies the FTDICK instrument is of better quality than the prototype one. Several students' misunderstandings including genuine misconceptions, spurious misconceptions and confusion with chemical terminology were revealed in this study. Some of these misunderstandings confirm the results previously published in the literature. Some novel findings were also uncovered. Those misconceptions could be attributed to many factors including mathematical weaknesses, carelessness, and difficulty in interpreting diagrams. Suggestions for teaching practices to overcome these misconceptions are also discussed. This study also revealed that the use of a confidence rating on answer and reason responses is timely in order to avoid a misclassification of spurious misconceptions as genuine ones and vice versa. This study also found that students generally showed better ability in answering algorithmic questions over pictorial ones. As an additional aspect of this study the performance of UK and Indonesian students at equivalent levels was explored. The study showed that UK students’ understanding of chemical kinetics is better than Indonesian students’ on commencing further studies in chemical kinetics.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Page, E. M.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > Department of Chemistry
ID Code:80441

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