Effects of instructional changes on student learning of electrochemistry in an IB chemistry course
This study investigated the effectiveness of incorporating several new instructional strategies into an International Baccalaureate (IB) chemistry course in terms of how they supported high school seniors’ understanding of electrochemistry. The three new methods used were (a) providing opportunities for visualization of particle movement by student manipulation of physical models and interactive computer simulations, (b) explicitly addressing common misconceptions identified in the literature, and (c) teaching an algorithmic, step-wise approach for determining the products of an aqueous solution electrolysis. Changes in student understanding were assessed through test scores on both internally and externally administered exams over a two-year period. It was found that visualization practice and explicit misconception instruction improved student understanding, but the effect was more apparent in the short-term. The data suggested that instruction time spent on algorithm practice was insufficient to cause significant test score improvement. There was, however, a substantial increase in the percentage of the experimental group students who chose to answer an optional electrochemistry-related external exam question, indicating an increase in student confidence. Implications for future instruction are discussed.