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This article was originally published as:

de Berg, K. C. (2012). A study of first-year chemistry students' understanding of solution concentration at the tertiary level. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 13, 8-16. doi: 10.1039/c1rp90056k


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This paper reports on students’ understanding of sugar concentration in aqueous solutions presented in two different modes: a visual submicroscopic mode for particles and a verbal mode referring to macroscopic amounts of sugar. One hundred and forty-five tertiary college students studying some form of first-year chemistry participated in the study. For problems of a similar nature, students were much more successful in solving solution concentration problems that were presented verbally than were presented using a submicroscopic representation of particles. The implications of this for chemistry education are outlined in the paper. One contributing factor to the poor success rate with submicroscopic representations (SMR) was possibly the fact that the SMR were presented in multiple-choice format whereas the verbal representations required a short-answer response. While the multiple-choice format may prove deceptive, on account of the way students interpret alternatives containing visual images, students agreed it also proved instructive in highlighting the importance of accounting for volume change in concentration calculations. [from publisher's website].


Reproduced with permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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