A Closer Look at the Relationships between College Students’ Cognitive Abilities and Problem Solving in Stoichiometry
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Keywords:Cognitive Variables, General Chemistry, Problem Solving, Stoichiometry
Several cognitive abilities were investigated in order to determine whether they correlated with undergraduates’ ability to solve stoichiometry problems. The problems were analyzed and broken down into constituent sub-problems in stoichiometry. Students were given a series of tests to measure their cognitive abilities in working memory capacity, formal reasoning, cognitive development, and conceptual understanding of the particulate nature of matter and the mole concept. A mixed qualitative and quantitative approach was used to analyze students’ difficulties with stoichiometry problems. The investigation of the cognitive variables indicated that only formal reasoning ability and understanding of the mole concept were good predictors of students’ success in stoichiometry. Although understanding of the particulate nature of matter did not correlate with success in solving general stoichiometry problems, it was significantly correlated with writing and balancing chemical equations.
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