Research on Student Difficulties in Understanding Chemical Reactions

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Research on student difficulties in Understanding Chemical reactions| Misconceptions on Strength of Acids and Bases|
Mariyam Zaina, 015482|


Title: Misconceptions on Strength of Acids and Bases

Researches shows that students often develops new theories about how the natural world works, prior to formal science education and frequently those theories are different to those of scientists(Demircioğlu et al., 2005). Students develop those scientific conceptions from many sources such as personal experiences (eg: observations), gender, peer interaction, media, language, symbolic representations, textbooks etc... In addition, sometimes teachers also serve as major sources for alternative conceptions (Chiu, 2005) and such self-constructed conceptions are referred as misconceptions. Misconceptions are ideas which are not in agreement with accepted scientific ideas (Demircioğlu et al., 2005). If students have misconceptions they are then likely to reject the scientist’s viewpoints, thus it would be very important for teachers to find about the misconceptions about the concepts to be taught (Khurshid & Iqbal, 2009)

It is known that secondary schools students found chemistry as one of the most difficult subjects and thus many students have difficulty in understanding the most basic concepts in the subject. Researches shows that students have lot of topic in chemistry with misconceptions and one such examined topic includes acids and bases (Demircioğlu et al., 2005). Many studies show that students have a lot of complexity in understanding the right concepts in acids and bases. Some of them include that students often fail to give examples of weak acids and bases and also claims that pH is the tool more measuring acidity. And students often refer acids as chemicals that are corrosive or chemicals that eat away everything. Furthermore students think that the more hydrogen ions present in a chemical the strength of its acidity increase. And such misconceptions make the topic acids and bases more abstract, boring and difficult to understand (Halim et al., 2010). This research is conducted to clarify students such misconceptions or alternative theories on the concept “Strength of acids and Bases” under the topic Acids and Bases. The misconceptions taken into consideration are: * Substances containing H are acidic and substances containing OH are basic * A strong acid doesn’t dissociate in water solution, because its intra-molecular bonds are very strong * Concentrated acids are dangerous but concentrated bases are not * As the value of pH increases, acidity increases

* As the number of hydrogen atoms increases in the formula of an acid, its acidity becomes stronger * All acids burn and melt everything
* All acids and bases are harmful and poisonous
* Alkalis are strong bases
* Strength and concentration mean the same thing
* The strongest acid is the most concentrated acid (Demircioğlu et al., 2005). Some important key term used in this research include misconceptions (defined in the first paragraph), Strong acid, weak acid, dilute acid, concentrated acid, This is a topic usually confused by students and most of the time they accidently confuse the specific terms such as “strong acid” with contracted acid or corrosive acid. In fact it means neither of those things. A strong acid is an acid which is fully ionized in solution and a weak acid is an acid which partially dissociates in solution. Similarly a strong base is base which ionizes fully in solution and weak bases get partially ionized in solution (Strong and Weak Acids and Bases, n.d). Concentrated acid has a relatively large amount of solute dissolved in the solvent. A dilute acid has a relatively smaller amount of solute dissolved in the solvent (Acid Strength, n.d)

In this research it is assumed that all the students who participated in the survey are students...
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