The Role Of Mathematical Models In Learning Chemistry - Theory And Reality

06/2018

Event name: ASERA 2018

Description

At the moment science and society face a number of complex problems. To work on these, models and modelling are of great importance. Mathematical models, like equations or graphs, describe chemical facts or data by the means of mathematical terms. By this they can help solving complex chemical problems. A conscious handling of mathematical models demands a deeper comprehension of the modelled terms and is enabled by the so-called mathematical modelling. This happens when mathematical models are created by the learners themselves and used to explain chemical facts and data in order to solve a chemical problem or to answer a complex chemical question. We call it mathematical modelling when students consciously justify or choose mathematical descriptions, a model or its assumptions, and when they validate the efficiency or the limit of the chosen model on the basis of the interpreted results.

In order to learn more about this process, we developed a model which describes the process of mathematical modelling in chemistry in detail. Based on this, we focused on the students’ difficulties by means of a video study using a specially designed task format (with incremental / stepwise learning aids), which allows a qualitative insight into the process (Goldhausen & Di Fuccia, 2014). In our presentation we will show in which part of the process of mathematical modelling students face special problems. We will outline that those problems are more often linked to chemical basic knowledge than to mathematics and arise when students have to autonomously find a chemical model and to translate this chemical model into a mathematical model in order to solve a chemical problem.