Atomic orbitals, molecular orbitals and related concepts: Conceptual difficulties among chemistry students

  • Georgios TsaparlisEmail author


Students start the undergraduate quantum chemistry course with incomplete knowledge and many conceptual difficulties about quantum-chemical concepts. This work investigated the impact an undergraduate quantum chemistry course has on students’ knowledge and understanding of atomic orbitals, molecular orbitals and related concepts. A “post-factum” analysis of examination data from this course reveals that students; do not have a clear understanding of the concepts of atomic and molecular orbitals as well as of Slater determinants; have difficulty in understanding the conceptual similarity between real and complex mathematical forms of atomic orbitals; confuse the various atomic orbital representations; and, do not realise the approximate nature of atomic orbitals for many-electron atoms. Difficulties with other related concepts are revealed also. Some promising strategies for instruction and suggestions for secondary and general chemistry curricula are discussed.


General Chemistry Molecular Orbital Related Concept Atomic Orbital Helium Atom 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Australian Science Research Association 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of IoanninaIoanninaGreece

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