The Effect of Viewing Order of Macroscopic and Particulate Visualizations on Students’ Particulate Explanations Academic Article uri icon


  • A prior study showed that students best make predictions about the outcome of opening a valve between two flasks containing a fluid or vacuum when they view both a demonstration video and a particulate animation, but the study showed no influence from the order in which these visualizations were used. The purpose of this current research was to study the effect of the order of visualization on students particulate-level explanations. For this study, first-year general chemistry students in a south-central university in the United States were asked to choose, or type in their own explanations, for three experiments involving diffusion-effusion. Student ability to focus on particulate explanations was investigated after viewing either a macroscopic demonstration or an animated particle view. Students were directed to a Web site where they received one of two randomly assigned treatments. One group of students was shown the particulate animation first, followed by the macroscopic demonstration. For the other group, the order was reversed. Student explanations were assessed after each view. Finally, both groups were shown a side-by-side view of the animation and demonstration and their explanation was assessed one final time. Results showed that the order of visualizations did make a difference, with the macroscopic view followed by the particle view yielding significantly more particulate explanations. © 2012 The American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Chemical Education

author list (cited authors)

  • Williamson, V. M., Lane, S. M., Gilbreath, T., Tasker, R., Ashkenazi, G., Williamson, K. C., & Macfarlane, R. D

citation count

  • 14

complete list of authors

  • Williamson, Vickie M||Lane, Sarah M||Gilbreath, Travis||Tasker, Roy||Ashkenazi, Guy||Williamson, Kenneth C||Macfarlane, Ronald D

publication date

  • June 2012