Knowledge of atomic structure, bonding and bonding energy: Research results from interviews and questionnaire with chemistry and life science students

  • Monica M. Ndoile


This research depended upon the importance of conceptual understanding in bringing about meaningful learning. Accordingly, this research was designed to assess students’ knowledge regarding basic and fundamental concepts in Chemistry: atomic structure, bonding and bonding energy. Therefore, some of year I, II, III Bachelor of Science in Chemistry (BSc (Chem)) and year I life sciences university students were enrolled in this research. According to Novak’s theory of meaningful learning, students were taught first before being tested. Therefore, both year II (n=20) and III (n=14) chemistry students were tested in their first semester, while year I (n=61) chemistry and life sciences students were examined at the end of second semester. The results from the interview with students indicated that almost 94% drew electron cloud and Bohr’s model as their mental image of atomic structure. Furthermore, they used classical mechanics ideas to explain electron cloud, and probability language to explain Bohr representation. Results from questionnaire indicated that, while a fairly good proportion of BSc (Chem) year II and III students involved in this study showed an appreciable level of scientific literacy, more than 50% of the life sciences students had problems in understanding these concepts. Furthermore, this paper discusses misconceptions as revealed in the interview and questionnaire results.


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print ISSN: 2227-5835