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Chemistry & Biochemistry Colloquium – Victoria Fisher – Murphy Research Group – Measuring student understanding in oxidation-reduction chemistry: Development and validation of a concept inventory using symbolic and particulate representations

October 6 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Measuring Student Understanding Misconceptions in Oxidation-Reduction Chemistry: Development and Validation of a Concept Inventory using Symbolic and Particulate Representations

Presented by: Victoria Fisher
Advisor: Dr. Kristen Murphy

A misconception can be defined as “any concept that differs from the commonly accepted scientific understanding of the term”¹. Due to a combination of reasons students may form misconceptions of chemistry topics which may be resistant to change despite instruction in the correct scientific concept. Chemistry, in general, may be a challenge to students in their undergraduate science programs however some specific content areas may pose more of a challenge than others. Electrochemistry has been ranked as one of the most difficult topics by both students and instructors in a study in Holland, Australia, the United Kingdom, and North America². Therefore, the chemistry topic of focus that will be primarily discussed is oxidation-reduction. Being able to measure misconceptions is beneficial to instructors to understand what percentage of their students hold a specific misconception. Students can be prompted to discuss their misconceptions in one-on-one interviews but this can be time consuming and may be unrealistic for a class with a larger number of students. Forced response instruments can be developed through a rigorous process to determine what misconceptions a class holds within the domain of the instrument. One example of an instrument used to measure chemistry misconceptions is the Oxidation-Reduction Concept Inventory (ROXCI). Brandriet and Bretz investigated student misconceptions in oxidation and reduction and built an instrument in order to measure these misconceptions. In order for an instrument to be used to accurately measure student misconceptions the instrument must be both valid and reliable. The end result allows instructors to determine the number of students that hold a specific misconception in less time than it would take to interview every student. Once a misconception can be measured the process of changing the misconception can begin to be implemented into the course. The process of identifying and measuring misconceptions in general as well as the results of the validity and reliability studies of the ROXCI will be presented.

Paper: Brandriet, A. R.; Bretz, S. L. The Development of the Redox Concept Inventory as a Measure of Students’ Symbolic and Particulate Redox Understandings and Confidence. J. Chem. Educ. 2014, 91, 1132-1144.

¹Nakhleh, M. B. Why Some Students Don’t Learn Chemistry. J. Chem. Ed. 1992, 69, 191-196.

²De Jong, O.; Acampo, J.; Verdonk, A. Problems in Teaching the Topic of Redox Reactions: Actions and Conceptions of Chemistry Teachers. J. Res. Sci. Teach. 1995, 32, 1097-1110.


October 6
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Event Category:


Chemistry Building, room 180
3210 N. Cramer Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53201 United States
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