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Supporting Knowledge Integration in Chemistry with a Visualization-Enhanced Inquiry Unit


Journal of Science Education and Technology Volume 23, Number 1, ISSN 1059-0145


This paper describes the design and impact of an inquiry-oriented online curriculum that takes advantage of dynamic molecular visualizations to improve students' understanding of chemical reactions. The visualization-enhanced unit uses research-based guidelines following the knowledge integration framework to help students develop coherent understanding by connecting and refining existing and new ideas. The inquiry unit supports students to develop connections among molecular, observable, and symbolic representations of chemical reactions. Design-based research included a pilot study, a study comparing the visualization-enhanced inquiry unit to typical instruction, and a course-long comparison study featuring a delayed posttest. Students participating in the visualization-enhanced unit outperformed students receiving typical instruction and further consolidated their understanding on the delayed posttest. Students who used the visualization-enhanced unit formed more connections among concepts than students with typical textbook and lecture-based instruction. Item analysis revealed the types of connections students made when studying the curriculum and suggested how these connections enabled students to consolidate their understanding as they continued in the chemistry course. Results demonstrate that visualization-enhanced inquiry designed for knowledge integration can improve connections between observable and atomic-level phenomena and serve students well as they study subsequent topics in chemistry.


Chiu, J.L. & Linn, M.C. (2014). Supporting Knowledge Integration in Chemistry with a Visualization-Enhanced Inquiry Unit. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 23(1), 37-58. Retrieved March 29, 2020 from .

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