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  1. Loertscher, Jennifer (Ed.)
    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. 
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  2. null (Ed.)
    The ability to predict macroscopic properties using a compound's chemical structure is an essential idea for chemistry as well as other disciplines such as biology. In this study we investigate how different levels of interventions impact the components of students’ explanations (claims, evidence, and reasoning) of structure–property relationships, particularly related to boiling point trends. These interventions, aligned with Three-Dimensional Learning (3DL), were investigated with four different cohorts of students: Cohort 1 – a control group of students enrolled in an active learning general chemistry course; Cohort 2 – students enrolled in the same active learning general chemistry course but given Intervention 1 (a 3DL worksheet administered during class time); Cohort 3 – students enrolled in the same active learning general chemistry course but given Intervention 1 and Intervention 2 (a 3DL course exam question administered after instruction); and Cohort 4 – a reference group of students enrolled in a transformed active learning general chemistry curriculum in which 3DL is an essential feature and includes Intervention 1 and Intervention 2 as part of the curriculum. We found that Cohort 2 students (with the 3DL worksheet intervention) were more likely than the control group (Cohort 1) to correctly predict the compound with a higher boiling point as well as incorporate ideas of strength of intermolecular forces into their explanations of boiling point differences. When a 3DL exam question was given as a follow up to the 3DL worksheet, students in Cohort 3 were more likely than Cohorts 1 and 2 to correctly identify the claim. Further comparison showed that Cohort 4 (transformed general chemistry curriculum) were more likely than Cohorts 1–3 to also include the ideas of energy needed to overcome stronger forces for a more sophisticated explanation (50% of Cohort 4 students compared to 17–33% for Cohorts 1–3). In addition, 80% of Cohort 4 students were able to construct a correct representation of hydrogen bonding as a non-covalent interaction compared to 13–57% for the other three cohorts. 
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  3. Abstract

    Students tend to think of their science courses as isolated and unrelated to each other, making it difficult for them to see connections across disciplines. In addition, many existing science assessments target rote memorization and algorithmic problem‐solving skills. Here, we describe the development, implementation, and evaluation of an activity aimed to help students integrate knowledge across introductory chemistry and biology courses. The activity design and evaluation of students' responses were guided by theFramework for K‐12 Science Educationas the understanding of core ideas and crosscutting concepts and the development of scientific practices are essential for students at all levels. In this activity, students are asked to use their understanding of noncovalent interactions to explain (a) why the boiling point differs for two pure substances (chemistry phenomenon) and (b) why temperature and base pair composition affects the stability of DNA (biological phenomenon). The activity was implemented at two different institutions (N= 441) in both introductory chemistry and biology courses. Students' overall performance suggests that they can provide sophisticated responses that incorporate their understanding of noncovalent interactions and energy to explain the chemistry phenomenon, but have difficulties integrating the same knowledge to explain the biological phenomenon. Our findings reinforce the notion that students should be provided with opportunities in the classroom to purposefully practice and support the use and integration of knowledge from multiple disciplines. Students' evaluations of the activity indicated that they found it to be interesting and helpful for making connections across disciplines.

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