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ERIC Number: EJ1175937
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-Apr
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
Dissolving Salts in Water: Students' Particulate Explanations of Temperature Changes
Abell, Timothy N.; Bretz, Stacey Lowery
Journal of Chemical Education, v95 n4 p504-511 Apr 2018
This study investigates how students account for a macroscopic temperature change during the dissolution of ionic salts through particulate level explanations. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with general chemistry, physical chemistry, and biophysical chemistry students. During the interviews, students conducted hands-on tasks that included the touching of beakers containing exothermic or endothermic dissolution processes. Data analysis resulted in categorizing students into groups based on their ideas about bond breaking, bond making, and energy changes. Students' particulate understandings of the dissolving process did not appear to impact their explanations of the energy changes they observed. Only two students (one from general chemistry and one from biophysical chemistry) correctly described both the dissolving process and the macroscopic energy changes. No students invoked the concepts of potential energy, lattice energy, or enthalpy of hydration to explain their observations.
Division of Chemical Education, Inc and ACS Publications Division of the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-227-5558; Tel: 202-872-4600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Ohio
Grant or Contract Numbers: 1432466