In pilot studies we have found large variability in how much and in how students use molecular models in translating between alternative diagrams of molecules. Students who were provided with models performed better than control students, who received no models.
Within the model groups there was large variability in how much students used the models. Students who used the models more often had better performance on the diagram translation task. However, several students did not use models when they were provided. Students who are given models but who do not use them perform no better than controls.
Stull, A. T., Hegarty, M., Stieff, M. & Dixon, B. (2010). Does manipulating molecular models promote representation translation in chemistry? In A. Goel, M. Jamnik & N.H. Narayanan (Eds.) Diagrammatic Representation and Inference (Proceedings of Diagrams 2010). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
The project will develop new instruments for measuring outcomes, as well as new materials for teaching representation translation in organic chemistry.