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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 2 Issue 2 (1997), S1430-4171(97)02118-3

Testing for Conceptual Understanding in General Chemistry

Craig W. Bowen* and Diane M. Bunce

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5043 and Department of Chemistry, Catholic University of America, Washington, DC 20064

Published online: 26 June 1997

Abstract. Conceptual understanding involves being able to represent and translate chemical problems using three forms of representation—macroscopic, particulate, and symbolic. In addition to research on chemical problem solving, a great deal of work on student misconceptions involving chemical phenomena has been conducted. Both the representational formats, and the work on student misconceptions, served as framework for a team of chemical educators to develop a general chemistry standardized exam focused on conceptual understanding that is now available from the ACS Examinations Institute. Several of the item formats differ from the conventional single answer multiple choice question currently used on such tests. That article will report the background of the test, the structure of the test, and on-going work of the group.

Key Words:  In the Classroom; general chemistry; student learning; conceptual understanding

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (78 KB )

Issue date: June 26, 1997

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