their students were concrete thinkers, and therefore could not be expected to fully understand quantum theory. To the extent of this study, we are unable to verify this view, although use of the GALT would provide evidence that might assist in substantiating these instructors’ claims (Bunce & Hutchinson 1993).
Although nearly all the instructors claimed an adequate understanding of quantum theory for their instructional purposes, and all of our instructors impressed project staff as competent and professional, nevertheless the project staff felt that in many incidences the consultants’ were either unfamiliar with concepts presented in the software, or were not making detailed connections. Reading the surveys, and interpreting the roundtable discussion, it appears that their knowledge of quantum theory is fragmented, and is not organized in a fully systematic manner to be applied across the widest range of chemical phenomena (diSessa 1988). Our prior research into experts’ understanding of quantum theory has shown that research practitioners rely on metaphors and analogies to bolster their conceptualization, and construct systems of explanations during discussion (Eshach and Garik, 2002). This greater understanding of the concepts notwithstanding, experts and novices may only differ by degree in the fragmentation of their knowledge. In reading the surveys and transcripts of our consulting instructors, a coordination class analysis of their understanding is strongly suggested (diSessa and Sherin 1998).
1. Importance of Quantum Concepts
The first question of our survey asked respondents:
“Please make a list of the top ten essential concepts of general chemistry that you would like your students to master in ranked order. Please number the most important as 1, the second most 2, and so forth. You may need to rank some concepts as being of equal importance.”
This question was aimed at determining the relative importance of quantum concepts in these instructors’ curriculum. Five of the instructors placed topics that are either implicitly or explicitly quantum mechanical in nature roughly in the middle of the list, on average number 5. The sixth stated that developing students’ reasoning ability was his principal objective, and provided a list of metacognitive objectives.
Electron configurations/quantum numbers
Respondent 2 wrote that he “could not rank them in terms of importance”, so for the ranking we provide where in the list of items R2 mentioned explicitly quantum ideas.
2. What Should Students Know?
We asked the instructors to respond to the question: “What are the essential quantum concepts that your students should know? Please explain why each quantum concept in your list is essential?”
Garik & Kelley (draft)page 4