ABSTRACT This manuscript describes the role that external representations, such as diagrams and sketches, can play in organizing and learning concepts presented in a one-semester chemistry course (general, organic and biochemistry) designed for nursing students. Although external representations are typically found in chemistry textbooks and instructor-drawn notes, students are usually not taught or prompted to use various types of external representations to promote learning. Representations created by an instructor and a student are discussed to highlight effective ways to foster student participation in creating various diagrams. In addition, a student provides a perspective on the educational value of creating external representations and the roles of visual thinking and creativity in learning introductory chemistry. Although the model for this approach has been an introductory chemistry course, this approach can be widely applied across disciplines.
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