Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Ron Good


A study of stoichiometric problem solving in chemistry was conducted in three high schools in a rural school district. Students (n = 178) in grades 10-12 solved problems individually or in a cooperative group using a prescriptive problem-solving strategy. This strategy consisted of a statement of the problem, redescription that included not only extraction of the stated and implied information but picture discription, prediction, mathematical solution, and check. The main purpose of the study was to determine empirically whether there was a difference in achievement between students solving problems individually and in cooperative groups. The cooperative groups were heterogeneously based upon proportional reasoning ability as determined by the results of the 2-item proportional reasoning subtest composing the Test of Logical Thinking (TOLT) developed by Tobin and Capie (1981). Secondary questions included: (1) the relationship of math stanines, age, sex, and proportional reasoning ability; (2) attitude differences; (3) characteristics of successful and unsuccessful students problem solving individually and in groups as determined through videotape analyses, classroom observation, and students' written work. There was no statistically significant difference in performance between regular or honor students of varying proportional reasoning ability solving stoichiometric problems individually or in cooperative groups (p $<$.05). The prescriptive method was the common factor throughout the study suggesting that it may be a strategy that will enable the gap between the performance of nonproportional reasoners and proportional reasoners to decrease on stoichiometric problems. No statistically significant attitude differences were found. It should be noted that students were undecided as to how they felt about chemistry before initiating problem solving and they did not form negative attitudes after seven weeks of problem solving. Verbal and written comments indicated that students enjoyed problem solving in groups. Successful problem solvers, both those in groups, and those who solved problems individually, were characterized by confidence and persistence and exhibited a strong conceptual base. Most successful students used the prescriptive method, organizing their problems into steps, sketching pictures, and making predictions. Successful groups interacted well, assuming responsibility for each other's learning.