Student Perspectives on Chemistry Intelligence and Their Implications for Measuring Chemistry-Specific Mindset

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Chemistry Education Research and Practice

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Students’ beliefs about their ability to improve their intelligence (known as mindset) likely have more impact on their academic outcomes when engaging in challenging learning environments, such as introductory undergraduate chemistry courses. To date, little research has been conducted on the chemistry-specific aspects of intelligence which result in domain-specific mindset beliefs. Additionally, the existing mindset instrument, and its variations, have not been demonstrated as valid for a higher-education chemistry student population. In this work, we evaluate mindset trait terminology (“intelligence,” “chemistry intelligence,” and “chemistry ability”) interpretations across a large, diverse sample to identify key cognitive aspects students consider important within chemistry-specific contexts and qualitatively distinguish perspectives of students who describe growth mindset beliefs from those holding fixed mindset beliefs. It was determined that all three mindset trait terms yield broad ranges of interpretations, and that those specific to chemistry elicit meanings more relevant to the chemistry classroom context. Three distinct mindset perspectives were identified qualitatively within the sample based on students’ interpretation of the nature and origins of “chemistry intelligence”. These groups had significantly different mean values for the mindset construct as measured by the existing mindset instrument, however, the groups heavily overlapped in response patterns. These findings support the need to develop a chemistry-specific instrument that can produce valid data for this population as the different mindset perspectives were not distinguishable by the current quantitative measures.


© The Royal Society of Chemistry 2021



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