Chunking in Chemistry


  • Denis M. Zhilin Moscow Institute for Open Education
  • Larisa E. Tkachuk School #6, Nyagan, Russia


Chemistry Teaching, Chunking Theory


Experts (2 groups, 41 participants) and non-experts (7 groups, 130 participants) in chemistry were exposed to sequences of chemical symbols for 30 seconds and then, after a minute, wrote them down. Four sequences were real chemical equations and four sequences were fakes got from the equations by random mixing the symbols. Experts in chemistry recalled real chemical equations (a) much better than fake sequences and (b) better than novices in chemistry. Meanwhile, no significant difference was found between the experts and the novices in recalling the fake sequences. Besides, the novices remember both real and fake sequences symbol-by-symbol from left to right, the frequency of mistakes increasing in the same order. The experts remember real equations as a whole and chunk some chains in the fake sequences remembering them better than others. All these results provide evidence that experts chunk chemical information and allow extending the chunking-based theories to chemistry teaching.


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How to Cite

Zhilin, D. M., & Tkachuk, L. E. (2013). Chunking in Chemistry. International Journal of Physics &Amp; Chemistry Education, 5(1), 39–56. Retrieved from