Alena Moon

Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor Profile Image

Department of Chemistry
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
536AA Hamilton Hall
Lincoln, NE 68588-0304
(402) 472-2616


Postdoctoral fellow, University of Michigan
Ph.D., Purdue University
B.S., John Brown University

Research Interests

Scientific argumentation, science practices, learning progressions

Current Research

Our research group investigates student learning of light-matter interactions and participation in scientific argumentation. The aim of investigating student learning of light-matter interactions is to elucidate how students’ understanding develops as they progress through their degree. By understanding the “levels” or “stages” a student might pass through in developing a more sophisticated understanding of this concept, we can design tailored curricula to support (and expedite) students’ progression towards a sophisticated and functional understanding. 

National calls for educational reform have identified the absence of explicit instruction of scientific practices in the science classroom. The absence is problematic as it leaves students with a potentially limited scientific understanding because of a lack of understanding of how scientific knowledge is constructed. For this reason, our group seeks to characterize how students participate in a key knowledge-generating scientific practice: engaging in argument from evidence. The aim of this inquiry is to develop instructional materials that provide students with opportunities to construct arguments. In order to effectively scaffold the development of students’ abilities, we are developing analytical tools that can quickly and efficiently characterize the quality of students’ arguments.

Selected Publications

(1)  Moon, A.; Stanford, C.; Cole, R.; Towns, M. Analysis of inquiry materials to explain complexity of chemical reasoning in physical chemistry students’ argumentation. J. Res. Sci. Teach. 2017. DOI: 10.1002/tea.21407

(2)  Moon, A.; Stanford, C.; Cole, R.; Towns, M. Decentering: A characteristic of effective student-student discourse in inquiry-oriented physical chemistry classrooms. J. Chem. Educ. 2017, 94(7), 829-836.

(3)  Moon, A.; Stanford, C.; Cole, R.; Towns, M. The nature of students’ chemical reasoning employed in scientific argumentation in physical chemistry. Chem. Educ. Res. Prac.. 2016, 17, 353-364.