Development of an Integrative Learning Unit to Enhance Students’ Conceptual Understanding of Dissolution and Their Reasoning Sophistication

Abstract: Chemistry education requires establishing connections between chemistry concepts and learners’ experiences encountered in the real world. However, due to the abstract nature of chemistry which is regularly displayed in an isolated-fashion in classrooms, this results in the difficulty when learners utilize knowledge relationally and rationally. To ease this learning issue, a conceptually integrative learning unit incorporating chemical concepts of dissolution was developed, involving polarity, concentration, and chemical structure. The purposes of this study are three-fold. The first is to cognitively embrace students in the content in terms of factual and applied knowledge. The second is placed on the reasoning sophistication, which plays a crucial role in problem solving, decision making, and data interpretation, by classifying it into three levels: Intuition, hybrid, and analytics.   The third is to explore cognitive authority reflecting forms of knowledge which students lean towards when making decision: Direct experiences (first-hand knowledge) and learning from other people (second-hand knowledge). This research study was conducted in a quantitative manner based on a pretest-posttest design with 79 upper secondary students. The results showed that there was a statistically significant increase in students’ conceptual understanding in both factual and applied knowledge, after participating in the developed learning unit. In addition, over 20% of the students exhibited more sophisticated reasoning skills (i.e. hybrid or analytic level of reasoning). Furthermore, forms of cognitive authority underpinning the reasoning skills shifted from second-hand knowledge towards first-hand knowledge after participating in the learning unit, which is considered as a more scientifically appropriate form of knowledge.

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