What teachers teach may not be what students learn!
Research has shown that students have alternative conceptions of many science concepts, mainly because they interpret what is taught using their existing knowledge. If students have difficulties learning basic concepts in their earlier years of education, then it is very likely that they will have problems understanding more advanced concepts which build upon these basic concepts.
Science lecturers Tan, Goh and Chia from the National Institute of Education, together with Taber from Cambridge, undertook this study to find out if our A-level students had similar difficulties understanding the concept of ionisation energy in Chemistry as do their counterparts in the United Kingdom.
They found that inadequate understanding of chemical bonding at the secondary level affected students’ understanding of ionisation energy at the A levels. Another problem which surfaced is the students’ inability to integrate what they learn in Physics (electrostatics) to their learning of ionisation energy in Chemistry.
The authors offer some practical suggestions on how this concept can be accurately taught to ensure that alternative conceptions of this concept are not passed on to our students.
The full monograph is available here.