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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 10 Issue 5 (2005) pp 400-405

Numerical and Pictorial Understanding of Acids Among Science Students

Paul G. Jasien

Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, California State University San Marcos, San Marcos, CA, 92096-0001,
Received December 15, 2004. Accepted August 11, 2005.

Published online: 23 September 2005

Abstract. The results of an investigation of undergraduate science majors’ knowledge of acid–base chemistry are reported. In an attempt to separate out numerical from molecular-level understanding, students were asked to answer paired numerical and pictorial questions related to the acid–base chemistry typically covered in a general chemistry course. The topics of the questions covered were acid–base neutralization, pH, acid strength, and acid concentration. An analysis of the correlation between the two types of understanding was carried out. The results reveal some specific alternate conceptions among the students studied. The individuals surveyed came from a private university, a public university, and a community college and included both lower- and upper-division students.

Key Words: Research in Teaching and Learning; general chemistry; acids and bases; conceptual understanding; case studies

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Issue date: October 1, 2005

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