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Abstract

Conceptual systems theory predicts four system orientations. System 1 individuals are highly concrete in their reasoning ability and beliefs. System 2 individuals are strongly negative toward authority and institutions and tend to be autonomous and rebellious. System 3 individuals are more abstract than System 1 or System 2 individuals and have strong need to maintain secure relationships. System 4 individuals have the most abstract, flexible, and open-minded orientation and have an analytical approach to problem solving. Conceptual systems orientations of subjects taking a general chemistry laboratory were determined using the “This I Believe” test. Subjects were classified into Systems 1, 2, 3, 4, or admixtures. Laboratory sections were assigned randomly to three instructional methods (traditional approach, learning cycle, computer simulation) for teaching a three-hour laboratory covering spectrophotometry principles. Factorial analysis of covariance indicated no significant conceptual system by instructional method interaction. The main effect for conceptual system was significant, and pairwise comparisons of adjusted mean posttest scores indicated that System 4 subjects as well as System 3 subjects scored significantly higher than System 1 subjects. There was no significant difference in scores between System 4 and System 3 individuals. Conceptual systems orientation is an attribute variable that may influence chemistry learning.