Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Chemistry/Chemistry Education Research

First Advisor

Hannah Sevian

Second Advisor

Jason Evans

Third Advisor

Neil Reilly


Chemistry teachers and students rarely consider the tension between daily life experiences and scientific ideas as a continuum where multiple modes of conceptualizing key ideas in chemistry coexist to function as a repertoire of views for making sense of phenomena. One of the central ideas in chemistry which teachers and students have multiple ways of thinking about is substance. The conceptual profile theory is a powerful tool to understand the heterogeneity, the relationships, and the pragmatic value of these ways of thinking about substance. This theory is grounded in the assumption that people have their own ways of conceptualizing the world to make sense of experiences in different contexts. Conceptual profiles are models of the diversity of modes of thinking that are used in a variety of contexts by people with a given cultural background. They are composed of several zones (each zone in a conceptual profile represents a particular way of thinking) that exhibit epistemological, ontological, and axiological stability. The aims of this research project are: (1) to construct the conceptual profile of substance through the identification of the conceptual profile zones; (2) to use the conceptual profile of substance to characterize what types of chemistry students are in the chemistry classroom based on their experiences with learning substance; and (3) to utilize the conceptual profile of substance to propose an activity to teach chemical bonding. This will demonstrate that the conceptual profile theory functions as a research tool to better understand the negotiation of daily life and scientific meanings when people are learning in science classrooms in the context of their lives; and as a pedagogical tool available to teachers to raise students’ awareness of their individual conceptual profiles, to expand them, and to empower students to qualify which zones are appropriate in specific situations both outside and inside the school.


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