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Development & application of a diagnostic instrument to evaluate secondary students' conceptions of qualitative analysis
Issue Date: 
Curtin University of Technology
The primary purpose of this study was to develop a two-tier multiple choice
diagnostic instrument to assess Singapore Grade 10 students' (15 to 17 years old)
understanding and alternative conceptions of qualitative analysis. Additional and
related purposes were to determine whether more advanced chemistry students,
for example, junior college (Grade 11 and 12) students, undergraduates and
graduate trainee-teachers have a better understanding of basic qualitative analysis
than secondary students, and to develop appropriate teaching strategies and
materials on qualitative analysis based on the findings of this study and a review
of the literature on practical work.
The results from the administration of the diagnostic instrument showed that
Singapore Grade 10 students had many alternative conceptions related to
qualitative analysis, and these were grouped under the headings of
‘Displacement’, ‘Redox’, ‘Dissolution’, ‘Addition of acid’ and ‘Heating’. The
cross-age study showed that the more advanced chemistry students generally had
a better understanding of basic qualitative analysis but had similar alternative
conceptions as the Grade 10 students. However, the alternative conceptions
identified were consistently held by only a small number of students across all
contexts examined in the diagnostic instrument, suggesting that a number of
students either had more than one conception for a particular concept or no
conceptions at all. The results from the trial of the qualitative analysis teaching
package indicated that the teaching package was feasible. Teachers involved in
the trial found it structured and comprehensive, and the students who experienced
the teaching package performed better on the diagnostic instrument than a
comparison group.
The study recommends that better ways of conducting qualitative analysis
practical work are required, and using the teaching package may be a step in this
direction. The study also raises questions about the value of teaching qualitative
analysis in secondary schools when important reactions involved in qualitative analysis are omitted from the syllabus, and when there is little incentive and time
in the school curriculum for learners to understand what they are doing in
qualitative analysis.
Issued Date: 
Call Number: 
QD49.S55 Tan
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