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Journal ArticleDOI

The Effectiveness of Predict-Observe-Explain Technique in Probing Students' Understanding about Acid-Base Chemistry: A Case for the Concepts of pH, pOH and Strength

01 Jun 2013-International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education (Springer Netherlands)-Vol. 11, Iss: 3, pp 555-574

Abstract: The present study describes high school students’ conceptions about acids and bases in terms of pH, pOH, microscopic level, strength, and concentration. A total of 27 high school students participated in the study. The data was collected using 3 POE tasks and a semi-structured interview. The data analysis demonstrated that most of the students had poor understanding related to a drawing of weak and strong acids. In addition, the findings revealed that the POE’s were effective in terms of gathering students’ predictions and reasons for the prediction of outcomes in an open-ended format. The POE tasks also revealed that some of the students had misconceptions regarding pH and pOH. The students believed that pH was a measurement of the acidity, while pOH was a measurement of the basicity. The findings obtained have certain implications for the secondary chemistry program.

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NESLI KALA, FATMA YAMAN and ALIPAŞA AYAS
THE EFFECTIVENESS OF PREDICTOBSERVEEXPLAIN
TECHNIQUE IN PROBING STUDENTS UNDERSTANDING
ABOUT ACIDBASE CHEMISTRY: A CASE FOR THE CONCEPTS
OF PH, POH, AND STRENGTH
Received: 3 August 2011; Accepted: 20 June 2012
ABSTRACT. The present study describes high school students conceptions about acids
and bases in terms of pH, pOH, microscopic level, strength, and concentration. A total of
27 high school students participated in the study. The data was collected using 3 POE
tasks and a semi-structured interview. The data analysis demonstrated that most of the
students had poor understanding related to a drawing of weak and strong acids. In
addition, the findings revealed that the POEs were effective in terms of gathering
students predictions and reasons for the prediction of outcomes in an open-ended format.
The POE tasks also revealed that some of the students had misconceptions regarding pH
and pOH. The students believed that pH was a measurement of the acidity, while pOH
was a measurement of the basicity. The findings obtained have certain implications for the
secondary chemistry program.
KEY WORDS: assessment, misconceptions, pH, POE, pOH, strength
INTRODUCTION
In any teaching or learning approach enlightened by constructivism, it is
important to infer the students ideas of what is already known (Driver &
Scott, 1996). These ideas can sometimes be different from the commonly
accepted scientific knowledge, which is mostly referred to as a
misconception or an alternative conception. As students come to classes
with their own ideas related to the natural world, the instructors should be
aware of the students previous knowledge to plan their subsequent
learning experiences, which in turn helps to facilitate meaningful learning
(Kearney & Treagust, 2001; Kearney, 2004). Therefore, it is important to
determine the students misconceptions.
For many decades, there have been a number of studies that reported the
students misconceptions related to different scientific concepts, such as
equilibrium (Banerjee, 1995;Gussarsky&Gorodetsky,1990), particulate
nature of matter (Abraham, Williamson & Westbrook, 1994; Griffiths &
Preston, 1992; Ayas, Özmen & Çalık, 2010), electrochemistry (Garnett &
Treagust, 1992), and chemical bonding (Coll & Treagust, 2003).
International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education (2013) 11: 555Y574
#
National Science Council, Taiwan 2012

The subject of acids and bases is an important topic in the chemistry
curriculum of middle and upper high schools and the general chemistry
courses at universities. In this context, acids and bases have included
biological activities, those causing environmental problems, as well as
those that have become very common in everyday life. Therefore, acid
base chemistry is being taught at different education levels such as
primary school, high school, and university.
Thus , like other chemistry topics, several resea rch studies have
reported certain alternative conceptions relevant to acids and bases
(Boz, 2009; Bradley & Mosimege, 1998; Cros, Maurin, Amouroux,
Chastrette, Leber & Fayol, 1986; Demircioglu, Ayas & Demircioglu,
2005; Lin, Chiu & Liang, 2004; Nakhleh & Krajcik, 1994; Ross &
Munby, 1991; Schmidt, 1991, 1995; Sheppard, 1997, 2006). Techniques,
such as concept maps, word association tests, the predictobserveexplain
technique (POE), interviews about concepts and events, student journals
and diagnostic multiple-choice tests have been used to probe student
understanding (Duit, Treagust & Mansfield, 1996; White & Gunstone,
1992; Kearney, 2004). The pr esent study utilized POE tasks and
interviews to probe the students understanding.
The POE strategy has been used for eliciting students understanding
(Kearney, 2002, 2004), determining students alternative conceptions
(Champagne, Klopher & Anderson, 1980; Gunstone, Champain & Klopfer,
1981), and promoting conceptual understanding (Tao & Gunstone, 1999).
However, there have been limited studies related to evaluating students
responses given to the POE tasks. Hence, this study will contribute in
terms of the analyzing of POE tasks as well as students understanding
about acidbase chemistry. In this context, the purpose of the present
study is to investigate the Turkish High School students conceptions
related to acids and bases under three headings: (a) the concept of pH and
pOH, (b) microscopic understanding of strong and weak acids, and (c)
differences between the strength and concentration of acids and bases.
Accordingly, the literature review will be discussed under the above
mentioned three headings.
pH and pOH
While limited reported information related to pOH is available in the
literature, there has been some information related to the pH concept. The
study by Banerjee (1991), which was implemented with high school
chemistry teachers and undergraduate chemistry students, reported that
most of the students had certain incorrect ideas related to the pH concept
NESLI KALA, FATMA YAMAN AND ALIPAŞA AYAS556

and concentration. The students stated that even though a strong and a
weak acid had the same concentration, the pH of the weak acid could be
the same pH as the strong acid. Cros et al. (1 986) noted that
undergraduate students descriptive definition for pH demonstrated little
change, while comparing their explanations with a previous study. While
Bradley & Mosimege (1998) established that prospective teachers had
some difficulties in understanding the pH function, even though their
understanding of pH and acidity was relatively good, Ross & Munby
(1991) revealed that high school students showed a good understanding
of the pH concept. Schmidt (1995) reported that gram mar school
(Gymnasium) students in Germany were aware that every neutralization
reaction resulted in a neutral solution because of the term neutralization
that acted as a hidden persuader. In addition, the students also decided
that the products of every neutralization reaction had a pH of 7. In
addition, Pınarbaşı (2007) revealed that the Turkish undergraduate
students had some misconceptions, such as that the pH of an acid
solution that is excessively diluted could be over 7. Nakhleh & Krajcik
(1994) reported that some of the high school students established certain
unacceptable relations, such as the pH is inversely related to being
harmful.
Microscopic Understanding of Strong and Weak Acids
The macroscopic, microscopic, and symbolic levels have been used to
facilitate teaching the chemical events to the students. The macroscopic
levels include the events which are observable, while the microscopic
levels explain using the idea of molecules and atoms. The symbolic levels
are shown through the use of symbols, numerically, equations, etc. In this
context, it has been established that the students can meaningfully
construct their chemistry knowledge when they imagine the concepts at
the microscopic level. Be sides, they can a lso conceptualize their other
knowledge and establish a suitable relations hip between the conc epts
(Ebenezer, 2001; Özmen, Ayas & Coştu, 2002; Raviola, 2001). In
this cont ext, it is important to determine the students microsc opic
understanding.
There have been a limited number of studies reported in literature
related to the microscopic level of strong acids and bases (Nakhleh, 1994;
Smith & Metz, 1996). In a study which analyzed the students drawings
as to the particulate nature of matter, Nakhleh (1994) reported that most
students understanding was not adequate in relation to acidbase
chemistry. Besides, most students were unable to make connections
THE EFFECTIVENESS OF PREDICTOBSERVEEXPLAIN TECHNIQUE 557

between the different representational levels, such as the macro, micro,
and symbolic level. The study carried out by Smith & Metz (1996) tested
the undergraduate students as well as the facultys understanding of acid
strength and solution chemistry. In the above-mentioned study, the
students were required to select the best representation of HCl and HF
and were also asked to draw some microscopic representation of the
chemical reaction, such as the reaction of NiCl
2
with NaOH. It was
established that many students believed that the strong acids had strong
bonds while the weak acids had weak bonds. Thus, acids could be easily
separated into pieces. Besides, the students had some misconceptions
regarding the bonding as well as some misunderstandings related to the
solubility and the dissociation process, even though they could balance
the equation.
Differences Between Strength and Concentration of Acids and Bases
Sheppard (2006) stated that the high school students in the sample
described pH as a measurement of strength and understood that the more
acidic solutions had a lower pH. Boz (2009) noted that a majority of the
student teachers related the acid strength to the hydrogen ion concentra-
tion, even though they were not aware of the discrepancies between the
concentration and the strength of an acid. In addition, Ross & Munby
(1991) found that high school students had sufficient information related
to concentration and made a distinction between a strong acid and a weak
acid. However, the students stated that the strong acids had strong bonds
when compared with the weak acids. Lin, Chiu & Liang (2004) reported
that the high school students in Taiwan believed that the strength of an
acid was related to the number of hydrogen atoms in the molecule
formula.
T
HE METHODOLOGY
The present study used a case study because it enables the giving of
permission to make a searching investigation of an event, a fact, a situation,
and an individual or a group (Bassey, 1999;Stake,1995;Yin,1994).
The Sample
The sample in the present study consisted of 27 high school students who
were enrolled in the science and mathematics track in an Anatolian high
school in Trabzon, Turkey. The selected sample first studied the acid and
NESLI KALA, FATMA YAMAN AND ALIPAŞA AYAS558

base subject in the middle school (grades 6 8) in the eighth year. Later,
the acid and base topic was studied in high school. The present study was
implemented, based on the sample that completed the normal instruction
on the acid and base topic. The treatment was carried out individually
with the sample by using worksheets.
Instruments
POE tasks and semi-structured interviews were used to determine the
students understanding of the pHpOH concepts and the strength of the
acids. Two different instruments were used to obtain internal validity, as
well as the reliability of the study.
POE
POE tasks probe the students understanding using three different but
relat ed sequ ences, such as prediction, observation, and explanation
(White & Gunstone, 1992). In the first sequence, the students are
required to predict an outcome of an event, such as the sequence of pH
and pOH for certain acids and bases and to also justify their prediction. In
the second sequence, which is the required observation of the event, the
students observe or perform the event, such as observing the pH of a
certain acid and base using litmus paper. In the last sequence, the students
have to reconcile their prediction and observation to find out whether
there are any differences between the two (White & Gunstone, 1992).
Brief Description of POE Implementation. Before starting the POE
implementation, students were given information about the POE
sequences. Students were told that they would perform an experiment
and then be asked to write their predictions, along with reasons. Then
they would observe the experiment. Finally, they would comment on any
discrepancies between their prediction and their observation.
In the first task, the students were asked to predict the sequence of pH
and pOH of lemon, 1 M HCl, and tap water. In the second task, the
students were asked to predict the sequence of the pH and pOH of soap,
1 M KOH, and tap water. Finally, in the third sequence, the students were
requested to predict the pH of 10 ml of HCl, which was diluted from 1 ml
1 M HCl. As well, the students were also asked whether there was any
change in the pH of the HCl before and after the dilution. Worksheets
were then distributed to the students to write their prediction, the reason
for their prediction, observations, and then discrepancies between the
prediction and observations.
THE EFFECTIVENESS OF PREDICTOBSERVEEXPLAIN TECHNIQUE 559

Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
Neslihan Ültay1, Muammer Çalik2Institutions (2)
Abstract: Background:Inability to link the acid-base concepts with daily life phenomena (as contexts) highlights the need for further research on the context-based acid-base chemistry. In this vein, the aim of this study is to investigate the effects of different teaching designs (REACT strategy, 5Es learning model and traditional (existing) instruction) relevant with ‘acids and bases’ subject on pre-service science teachers’ conceptions and attitudes towards chemistry and to compare them with each other.Materials and methods:Within quasi-experimental research design, the sample comprised of 95 pre-service science teachers from Faculty of Education in Giresun University, Turkey. Three intact groups were randomly assigned as either experimental and control groups. To gather data, Acid-Base Chemistry Concept Test (ABCCT), Chemistry Attitudes and Experiences Questionnaire (CAEQ) and clinical interviews were used.Results:The results denote that REACT strategy is effective in helping the pre-service science teachers retain their gained conceptions in long-term memory whilst 5Es learning model is efficient in achieving conceptual learning.Conclusions:Finally, future studies should test the effects of REACT strategy and 5Es learning model on different variables (i.e. sample, subject, scientific process skills, scientific inquiry) over a longer period of time (i.e. one semester or one-year).

38 citations


Cites background from "The Effectiveness of Predict-Observ..."

  • ...Also, several of these studies emphasized that some alternative conceptions were still robust to change even after the instruction (Kala et al., 2013; Özmen, Demircioğlu, & Coll, 2009)....

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  • ...However, concept test as a cognitive measure (Bradley & Mosimege, 1998), interviews (Drechsler & Driel, 2008; Hand, 1989; Kala et al., 2013; Üce & Sarıçayır, 2002), and attitude or aptitude scales (i.e.Kılavuz, 2005; Üce & Sarıçayır, 2002) have been widely preferred to measure the sample’s…...

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  • ...However, concept test as a cognitive measure (Bradley & Mosimege, 1998), interviews (Drechsler & Driel, 2008; Hand, 1989; Kala et al., 2013; Üce & Sarıçayır, 2002), and attitude or aptitude scales (i....

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Abstract: The effect of teaching and learning strategies on learners’ performance is important in science education. This study explored the effect of the Predict-Observe-Explain (POE) strategy on Grade 10 Physical Sciences learners’ misconceptions on how salt dissolves in water. A quasi-experimental design was employed in collecting data from South Africa. A t-test and Analysis of Co-variance (ANCOVA) were used to analyse the data. The results show that learners in the experimental group (EG) taught using POE performed better in the post-test than their counterparts in the control group (CG) taught using traditional methods. Also, two new misconceptions were identified, namely: 1) salts dissolve in water when it is in ‘fine’ grains; and, 2) solid sodium chloride is not an ionic compound. These results highlight the need for educators and curriculum developers to include various elements of POE in the curriculum as a model for conceptual change in teaching science. DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n4p300

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Cites background from "The Effectiveness of Predict-Observ..."

  • ...Learners’ participation throughout the lesson is characterized by predicting, observing and explaining the learning processes (White & Gunstone, 1992; Assessment Resource Banks, 2007; Kala et al., 2013)....

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Abstract: Using a quantitative case study design, the Acids-Bases Chemistry Achievement Test (ABCAT) was developed to evaluate the extent to which students in Malaysian secondary schools achieved the intended curriculum on acid-base concepts. Responses were obtained from 260 Form 5 (Grade 11) students from five schools to initially create the two-tier multiple-choice items. After pilot testing, the final version of the ABCAT consisting of 19 items, 10 multiple-choice items and nine two-tier multiple-choice items, was administered to 304 students in Form 4 (Grade 10) from seven secondary schools when 12 alternative conceptions were identified by at least 10% of the students. Of these alternative conceptions, three were displayed by less than 15% of students. The two-tier multiple-choice items had a slightly higher internal consistency reliability (Cronbach’s alpha) of 0.54 than the multiple-choices items with a value of 0.42. The data from the study suggest that the ABCAT has shown the extent to which the teaching has reduced the incidence of students’ scientifically inappropriate understandings; for example, in nine of the 19 items, no alternative conceptions were displayed by the students.

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Cites background or result from "The Effectiveness of Predict-Observ..."

  • ...Concepts of acids and bases continue to be a problem for students at all levels of schooling as indicated by several past studies (e.g. Chiu, 2004; Demircioğlu, Ayas, & Demircioğlu, 2005; Huang, 2004: Kala, Yaman & Ayas, 2013; Sheppard, 2006)....

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  • ...Understanding of other acid-base concepts In another study using POE activities and interviews with 27 high school students, Kala, Yaman and Ayas (2013) investigated their understandings of acids and bases....

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  • ...…of acids and bases that were identified in this study is not surprising as other studies that have been conducted in different cultures as in Taiwan by Chiu (2004) and Huang (2004), in the US by Sheppard (2006) and in Turkey by Kala, Yaman and Ayas (2013) have all indicated related confusion....

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  • ...…several studies have been documented that refer to alternative conceptions about acids and bases that are held by students and teachers alike (Chiu, 2004, 2007; Demircioğlu, Ayas & Demircioğlu, 2005; Huang, 2004; Kala, Yaman & Ayas, 2013; Sheppard, 2006; Drechsler & Van Driel, 2008, 2009)....

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Journal ArticleDOI
Fatma Yaman, Alipaşa Ayas1Institutions (1)
TL;DR: Suggestions and implications for educators and researchers to improve the quality of concept map evaluation are suggested.
Abstract: Although concept maps have been used as alternative assessment methods in education, there has been an ongoing debate on how to evaluate students' concept maps. This study discusses how to evaluate students' concept maps as an assessment tool before and after 15 computer-based Predict–Observe–Explain (CB-POE) tasks related to acid–base chemistry. 12 high school students participated in this study. Students' concept maps were evaluated taking into account three parts: qualitative, quantitative and representational level. The results gathered from the quantitative analysis of the pre and post concept maps were analyzed using SPSS 17.0. The results showed that there is a significant difference between students' pre and post concept map scores (z = 3.05; p < 0.05). From the qualitative analysis of the concept maps, the majority of the students constructed their pre and post concept maps non-hierarchically; while they drew more interconnected concept maps after the CB-POE tasks. Regarding their representational level, the students used the macroscopic level more often than microscopic and symbolic levels in both their pre and post concept maps. Nonetheless, they increased the number of macroscopic, microscopic and symbolic level representations in their post concept maps. The paper concludes with suggestions and implications for educators and researchers to improve the quality of concept map evaluation.

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  • ...In traditional education systems, open/close-ended questions and multiple choice tests are most commonly used to assess students’ understanding (Kala et al., 2013)....

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Abstract: Elementary school students’ achievement in natural science in the academic year of 2015/2016 at Cluster V, Buleleng regency, Bali province was considerably low. An early observation also revealed low motivation, negative attitudes towards teachers, low self-esteem and low confidence in self-capability. Therefore, a breakthrough approach was urgently required to improve the students' performance in natural science learning. The current article aimed at investigating the effects of the (Nature of Science) NOS-oriented cooperative learning model with the Numbered Head Together (NHT) on the elementary school students’ achievement in natural science. The study was a quasi-experimental research adopting the post-test only control group design. The research conducted in elementary schools in Cluster V Buleleng sub-district, Buleleng regency, Bali, Indonesia. The research subject was 137 students in Grade 5 consisting of six classes from  5 elementary schools. The hypothesis was examined using an inferential statistics, the t-test. The results showed that there was a significant difference in the learning results of natural science between the students taught with the NOS-oriented cooperative learning model with the NHT type and those with the conventional learning model (t count = 7,048 >t table = 2,000). The students taught with the NOS-oriented constructive learning model with the NHT type achieved better than those with the conventional learning model. Therefore, it concluded that the NOS-oriented cooperative learning model with the NHT type gave positive effects on the fifth year students’ achievement in natural science learning.

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  • ...Teachers might choose to give scores to this understanding level in prediction and reasons for prediction sequences, such as a two tier test (White & Gunstone, 1992)....

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  • ...…as concept maps, word association tests, the predict–observe–explain technique (POE), interviews about concepts and events, student journals and diagnostic multiple-choice tests have been used to probe student understanding (Duit, Treagust & Mansfield, 1996; White & Gunstone, 1992; Kearney, 2004)....

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