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New Perspectives in Science Education 3th Edition 2014

In chemistry it is often necessary to apply mathematical terms, methods and scientific paradigms in order to explain chemical phenomena. Considering the acquisition of problem solving skills in chemistry, it seems reasonable to introduce tasks, which aim at problem solving by using mathematical models. A conscious handling of mathematical models demands the transfer and usage of mathematical knowledge in new and significant situations and thus can support the comprehension of the terms that were modeled and foster problem solving skills [1]. However, it is known that students have difficulties with connecting aspects of mathematics with chemistry [2].

Since there is only rarely reliable information available from research at the moment, we researched to what extent mathematical models are actually implemented in German chemistry lessons at all by analyzing the current curricula of upper secondary chemistry of the 16 federal states of Germany. Furthermore, the following approaches were chosen to provide an insight into how such issues are taught in everyday chemistry lessons:

An inspection of different textbooks (N=5) served to get more details about the way the curricular guidelines are interpreted with respect to the mathematization of chemical concepts. Additionally, a qualitative analysis of the tasks (N=689) of the centralized final exams for the subject chemistry has been done. It is assumed that these tasks and their sample solutions reflect which assignments or rather subject areas are currently deployed in chemistry lessons.

As another part of the study, chemistry teachers (N=13) were interviewed in order to determine how the use of mathematical models is actually taught in current German chemistry lessons. Based on the knowledge about where mathematical models shall be used in chemistry lessons, we asked the teachers how they usually teach these topics.

In order to identify students’ problems with mathematical modeling, we carried out a video study (N=20). Hereby, we have got an insight into the process of creating and using mathematical models in order to answer a chemical question. Furthermore, we examined whether and respectively to what extent students are able to apply and transfer competences acquired in maths class in chemistry lessons.

The presentation includes a range of findings, which give an insight into the current teaching situation in Germany and students’ problems concerning the handling of mathematical models in chemistry lessons.

[1] Borneleit, P., Danckwerts, R., Henn, H.-W., Weigand, H.-G. (2001): Expertise zum Mathematikunterricht in der gymnasialen Oberstufe. In: H.-E. Tenorth (Hrsg.): *Kerncurriculum Oberstufe*. – Weinheim: Beltz, 26 – 53

[2] Potgieter, M., Harding, A. & Engelbrecht (2008), J., Transfer of algebraic and graphical thinking between Mathematics and Chemistry,* Journal of Research in Science Teaching*, **45 **(2), 197-218.

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