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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 9 Issue 2 (2004) pp 132-137

Acid–Base Equilibria, Part II. Effect of Developmental Level and Disembedding Ability on Students' Conceptual Understanding and Problem-Solving Ability

Margarita Demerouti, Margarita Kousathana, and Georgios Tsaparlis*

University of Athens, Department of Chemistry, Graduate Program DiCheNET, Athens, Greece, University of Athens, Experimental High School, Athens Greece,, and University of Ioannina, Department of Chemistry, Ioannina, Greece,
Received April 28, 2003. Accepted September 18, 2003.

Published online: 26 February 2004

Abstract. This study examines the effect of two psychometric variables: developmental level (i.e., general hypotheticodeductive reasoning ability), and disembedding ability or cognitive style (i.e., degree of perceptual field dependence/independence) on twelfth-grade upper-secondary students’ ability to deal with conceptual understanding and chemical calculations. It was found that both variables played an important role in the performance of the students in our sample (N = 119). Disembedding ability clearly had a larger effect. Multiple-regression analysis indicates that 28.3% of the variance of the performance in the whole test was due to the combined effect of the two psychometric variables. Developmental level was connected to most cases of concept understanding and application, but less so with situations involving complex conceptual situations and/or chemical calculations. On the other hand, disembedding ability was involved both in situations that required conceptual understanding alone, especially in demanding cases, and in combination with chemical calculations. Recommendations for instruction are made.

Key Words: Research in Teaching and Learning; general chemistry; science education

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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Issue date: April 1, 2004

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