Chemistry and Physics Faculty Articles

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CBE-Life Sciences Education








Introductory courses are often designed to cover a range of topics with the intent to offer students exposure to the given discipline as preparation to further their study in the same or related disciplines. Unfortunately, students in these courses are often presented with an overwhelming amount of information that may not support their formation of a usable coherent network of knowledge. In this study we conducted a mixed-method sequential exploratory study with students co-enrolled in General Chemistry II and Introductory Biology I to better understand what students perceived to be the “take-home” messages of these courses (i.e., core ideas) and the connections between these courses. We found that students identified a range of ideas from both courses; further analysis of students’ explanations and reasoning revealed that, when students talked about their chemistry ideas, they were more likely to talk about them as having predictive and explanatory power in comparison with reasons provided for their biology big ideas. Furthermore, students identified a number of overlapping ideas between their chemistry and biology courses, such as interactions, reactions, and structures, which have the potential to be used as a starting place to support students building a more coherent network of knowledge.


© 2022 Z. D. R. Allred et al. CBE—Life Sciences Education © 2022 The American Society for Cell Biology. This article is distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author(s). It is available to the public under an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License (

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.




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