Marilyne Stains - A2, Element or Compound?

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      Publication Details (including relevant citation   information):

        Stains, M. & Talanquer, V. (2007). A2, Element or   Compound? Journal of Chemical Education, 84(5),   880-883.   DOI:  10.1021/ed084p880


        We use particulate questions to investigate the mental   association between the concepts of molecule and compound in   chemistry students with different levels of academic preparation.   We focus our analysis on the answers that undergraduate and   graduate students provided when asked to classify a substance   such as A2    (represented in particulate form) as element, compound, or   mixture. Our results indicate that a significant proportion of   students misclassified molecular elements as chemical compounds.   Surprisingly, the mental association between the concepts of   molecule and compound was stronger in students with higher levels   of preparation. Advanced students seemed to differentiate between   elements and compounds using an alternative classification system   based on molecular structure rather than on chemical composition.   Even some chemistry faculty had working definitions of element   and compound that did not match the definitions conventionally   included in chemistry textbooks.

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