Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Chemistry and Biochemistry

First Advisor

Matthew Miller


Non-Particulate with no understanding, Particulate and Some Misconception, Chemical Education, Instrumentation, Particulate and Sound Understanding, Particulate Nature of Matter


The main objective of this research was to explore the understanding and conceptions of Particulate Nature of Matter (PNM) with Chem 115 L students as the participants. Conceptions were defined specifically as beliefs and alternative beliefs about topics. The research also assessed the impact of analytical instrumentation in the chemistry laboratory on learning chemistry concepts. Eight questions (8) with multiple choice answers were administered to 10 students at the beginning and after the Fall 2018 semester via selective/purposeful sampling. Data were collected using surveys (pre- and post-surveys) and interviews (pre- and postinterviews), then analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. The eight questions on the surveys also requested that students provide reasons for their choice of answers. Using the answers selected and the reasons given in pre- and post-surveys, the researcher categorized students as having Particulate and Sound Understanding (PSU), Particulate and Some Misconception (PSM), and Non-Particulate with no understanding (NPU) conceptions at these corresponding times. From the surveys (pre- and post-), we found out that the overall % of all students in the NPU category reduced from 60 in the pre-survey to 25 in the post-survey. Similarly, the PSM category also reduced from 310% in the pre-survey to 250% in the post survey. However, the PSU increased from430% to 525%. The increase in PSU with corresponding significant reduction in PSU and PSM indicates a positive impact on student learning, since the results suggest an improvement in the understanding of PNM. This could indicate that research instrumentation had an impact, but alone this data does not provide full evidence of this statement. The interview data was used to provide additional support. Interview records were transcribed, then analyzed and assessed for reliability using intercoder-reliability verification for consistency. The transcribed interview data was subjected to intercoder reliability and the reliability index was 0.79. When the students were asked if the instrumentation had an impact on their learning, their responses strongly suggested a positive impression and impact of instrumentation learning and understanding PNM.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Particulate matter.
Chemistry -- Study and teaching.
College students -- Attitudes.

Number of Pages



South Dakota State University

Included in

Chemistry Commons



Rights Statement

In Copyright