CREATE Science Seminar: Vicente Talanquer


Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm


252 Erickson Hall

Light refreshments available at 11:45 a.m. This presentation is followed by a one-hour discussion with graduate students and post-docs in 116-B Erickson at 1:20 p.m.

Exploring Mechanistic Reasoning in Chemistry

Vicente Talanquer

Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Arizona


Science educators across the world recognize the importance of developing students’ ability to build arguments and explanations using scientific models. However, the type of mechanistic reasoning that we would like students to develop is challenging for many learners because it demands the simultaneous analysis of multiple factors operating at different scales. In this presentation, I summarize the major reasoning challenges that we have uncovered in our studies focused on the analysis of students’ ability to use structure-property relationships to build mechanistic explanations about chemical substances and phenomena. Our investigations have revealed that students often rely on implicit knowledge and reasoning strategies to simplify tasks. In particular, they tend to apply quick heuristics that facilitate decision making and intuitive schemas that simplify the construction of inferences.

About the Speaker:

Vicente Talanquer is a University Distinguished Professor at the University of Arizona, where he is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. His research interest is in chemistry education. Vicente is also part of the faculty in the science teacher program in the College of Science at his institution.  His research is directed at characterizing the conceptual sophistication and depth of reasoning of chemistry students and prospective science teachers. He is also interested in developing new ways of conceptualizing the chemistry curriculum and the teaching of the discipline. As an educator, he has published over 90 articles in peer-reviewed journals in English and Spanish and 11 textbooks, four of which are the elementary school science textbooks used from 1996 through 2008 by all elementary schools in Mexico.