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Development Of A Chemistry Concept Inventory For

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Assessing Teaching & Learning

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.427.1 - 9.427.8



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Paper Authors

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Michael Pavelich

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Stephen Krause

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Development of a Chemistry Concept Inventory for Use in Chemistry, Materials and other Engineering Courses

Michael Pavelich, Brooke Jenkins*. James Birk*, Richard Bauer*, and Steve Krause**

Dept. of Chemistry, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO 80401, Email: *Dept. of Chemistry and **Dept. of Chemical & Materials Engineering, Arizona State University, Tempe AZ 85287


Concept Inventory (CI) is the label given to an exam that explores students' mental models, their qualitative images, of how science and engineering work. It is believed, and data support, that students can often solve mathematical problems in a course but have poor or incorrect mental models about the fundamental concepts behind the mathematics. For example, a student may be able to recall, or deduce, and then apply the proper equation to solve the problem:

When 1.00 kJ of heat are absorbed by a 370 gram weight if steel, its Standard Course Question temperature rises from 20.00 to 25.45ºC. What is the heat capacity of steel in joules per degree-gram?

However, that same student may not answer the following qualitative, conceptual, question correctly.

CCI-chem I #4 In a classroom there are metal chairs and plastics chairs. Students say that the metal chairs feel colder than the plastic ones. Why? A) Metal naturally has less heat than plastic. B) Metal naturally has more cold than plastic. C) Metal quickly conducts heat away from your hand. D) Metal attracts and holds cold. E) Plastic is an insulator and attracts and holds heat.

We teachers would like students to be able to understand and correctly answer both questions. However, our traditional college curricula emphasize the former, quantitative, type exercises and simply assume that student success on these implies strong conceptual mental models that would have them answer the latter, qualitative, question correctly.

Data 1 from the well researched physics CI, the Forced Concept Inventory by Hessten,2 show that this assumption is not good. Most students who succeed in our science and engineering courses still have Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Pavelich, M., & Krause, S. (2004, June), Development Of A Chemistry Concept Inventory For Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13318

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