College students solving chemistry problems: A theoretical model of expertise

Authors

  • Gita Taasoobshirazi,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Educational Psychology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-3003
    • Department of Educational Psychology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-3003.
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  • Shawn M. Glynn

    1. Department of Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
    2. Department of Mathematics and Science Education, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
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Abstract

A model of expertise in chemistry problem solving was tested on undergraduate science majors enrolled in a chemistry course. The model was based on Anderson's Adaptive Control of Thought-Rational (ACT-R) theory. The model shows how conceptualization, self-efficacy, and strategy interact and contribute to the successful solution of quantitative, well-defined chemistry problems in the areas of stoichiometry, thermochemistry, and properties of solutions. A statistical path analysis and students' explanations supported the model and indicated that the students' problem conceptualization and chemistry self-efficacy influenced their strategy use, which, in turn, strongly influenced their problem-solving success. The implication of these findings for future research and developing students' expertise in chemistry problem solving is that a strategy is advantageous when it is built on a foundation of conceptual knowledge and chemistry self-efficacy. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 46: 1070–1089, 2009

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