Developing a common visual literacy amongst first year chemistry students

Hayden Dickson, Christopher Thompson, Paddy O'Toole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


During the course of their studies, chemistry students are exposed to multiple, progressively more sophisticated models of submicro scale particles. In this paper we report on the introduction of submicro drawing questions into a first year university chemistry laboratory program with the aim of revealing alternative conceptions that may have gone undiagnosed using traditional teaching methods. Ultimately, such questions are beneficial as a learning tool incorporated into a learning process aimed at improving students' conceptual understanding of fundamental chemistry concepts. Introducing submicro drawing questions involved developing a common visual literacy amongst students to enable comparable drawings to be produced for assessment purposes. This process included asking students to attempt three drawing tasks while following research informed guidelines worded to allow visual diagnosis of a range of commonly reported alternative conceptions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Alternative conceptions
  • Chemistry
  • Diagrams
  • Misconceptions
  • Representation
  • Student drawings
  • Submicro

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