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Uncovering And Repairing Atomic Bonding Misconceptions With Multimodal Assessment Of Student Understanding In An Introductory Materials Course

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Clearing up Student Misconceptions in Materials

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Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1289.1 - 15.1289.16



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Paper Authors


Jacquelyn Kelly Arizona State University

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Jacquelyn Kelly, Arizona State University
Jacquelyn Kelley has an M.S. in Materials Science and is a Ph.D. student in the College of Education at Arizona State University. Her BS degree is in Physics and Chemistry. Her principle research areas are inquiry-based learning and development and assessment of inquiry-based modules in materials science and engineering. She teaches physics, chemistry and mathematics in a local arts high school.

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Keith Heinert Arizona State University

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Keith Heinert is an undergraduate at Arizona State University in the Mechanical Engineering Depart who is working toward his BS Mechanical Degree. Upon graduation he will be attending business school. He has been working as an undergraduate teaching assistant in the Introductory Materials course for the past year.

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Jessica Triplett Arizona State University

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Jessica Triplett, Arizona State University
Jessica Triplett is an undergraduate major in Chemical Engineering at Arizona State University and has been working as an undergraduate research assistant for 6 months in the area of engineering education.

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Dale Baker Arizona State University

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Dale R. Baker is a Professor of Science Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at ASU and is the Co-Editor of The Journal of Research in Science Teaching. She teaches courses in science curricula, teaching and learning, and assessment courses with an emphasis on constructivist theory and issues of equity. Her research focuses on issues of gender, science, and science teaching. She has won two awards for her research in these areas. In this work she is responsible for developing assessments and overseeing data collection, analysis, and feedback to the project.

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Stephen Krause Arizona State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Uncovering Atomic Bonding Misconceptions with Multimodal Topic Module Assessments of Student Understanding in An Introductory Materials Course Abstract Though much work has been done in physical sciences on misconceptions, little work has been done on misconceptions in the context of structure-property-processing performance relationships in materials used in engineering design. The research question in this paper is, “How can misconceptions for engineering materials be most effectively identified in order to develop effective teaching and learning activities for repairing misconceptions?” For an introductory materials class with 38 students, misconceptions were uncovered, categorized and monitored over the span of a fifteen-week introductory materials science course. To do so, open- ended assessments requiring multiple modes of expressions (sketching and writing) of concepts for various content areas (atomic bonding, crystal structure, deformation, polymers, and electrical properties) were administered before and after each teaching module. A mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) analysis of student responses on the multimodal assessment was carried out. Student misconceptions were further elicited and categorized using emergent themes coding. Some categories of misconceptions were consistent with literature. Others (such as a magnetic mechanism for bonding and atoms becoming either soft or brittle during deformation) were new and previously unreported. Results indicated that multimodal assessment gave a more effective and a more detailed indicator of student conceptions, misconceptions and conceptual change than a unimodal assessment would have. We propose that, for an introductory materials course, assessments using multimodal expressions of topical concepts will more effectively uncover and assess the nature of student misconceptions. This improved insight into student conceptual frameworks can lead to more effective misconception repair for structure-property relationships about engineering materials than would a traditional assessment. Details of results, analysis, conclusions and implications are presented and discussed in the full paper.


Misconception research has been done primarily from a physical science perspective. Traditionally, engineering students learn prerequisite knowledge in physics and chemistry. As a result, student understanding is often limited to an understanding of phenomena rather than an ability to apply and use knowledge for engineering applications. For example, in a review of student bonding conceptions, Robinson1 found that students believed that the only types of “real” bonds were covalent and ionic bonds. Continuing, he reported that chemistry students could not recognize metallic bonds as “proper” bonds. Because many chemistry courses aim to teach students to explain the natural world, emphasis is placed on covalent and ionic bonding. But in engineering, understanding of metal and polymer behavior is crucial for real-world applications and requires an understanding and working knowledge of metallic and van der Waals bonding.

Many engineering students complete their science prerequisites in courses structured for natural scientists with limited treatment of engineering content. Many engineering faculty assume that students entering their courses are well prepared with respect to materials design and selection. If we again consider atomic bonding for materials science courses, it can be seen that this is not the

Kelly, J., & Heinert, K., & Triplett, J., & Baker, D., & Krause, S. (2010, June), Uncovering And Repairing Atomic Bonding Misconceptions With Multimodal Assessment Of Student Understanding In An Introductory Materials Course Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16354

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015