Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The main research question of this study was: How do selected high school chemistry students' understandings of the elements, structure, and periodicity of the Periodic Table change as they participate in a unit study consisting of inquiry-based activities emphasizing construction of innovative science graphics? The research question was answered using a multiple case study/mixed model design which employed elements of both qualitative and quantitative methodologies during data collection and analyses. The unit study was conducted over a six-week period with 11th-grade students enrolled in a chemistry class. A purposive sample of six students from the class was selected to participate in interviews and concept map coconstruction (Wandersee & Abrams, 1993) periodically across the study. The progress of the selected students of the case study was compared to the progress of the class as a whole. The students of the case study were also compared to a group of high school chemistry students at a comparative school. The results show that the students from both schools left traditional instruction on the periodic table (lecture and textbook activities) with a very limited understanding of the topic. It also revealed that the inquiry-based, visual approach of the unit study helped students make significant conceptual progress in their understanding of the periodic table. The pictorial periodic table (which features photographs of the elements), used in conjunction with the graphic technique of data mapping, enhanced students understanding of the patterns of the physical properties of the elements on the periodic table. The graphic technique of compound mapping helped students learn reactivity patterns between types and groups of elements on the periodic table. The recreation of the periodic table with element cards created from the pictorial periodic table helped students progress in their understanding of periodicity and its key concepts. The Periodic Table Literacy Rubric (PTLR) proved to be a valuable tool for assessing students’ conceptual progress, and helped to identify a critical juncture in the learning of periodicity. In addition, the PTLR rubric's historical-conceptual design demonstrates how the history of science can be used to inform today's science teaching.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

James Wandersee



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Education Commons