NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ923483
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 48
ISSN: ISSN-1756-1108
Students' Understanding of Acids/Bases in Organic Chemistry Contexts
Cartrette, David P.; Mayo, Provi M.
Chemistry Education Research and Practice, v12 n1 p29-39 2011
Understanding key foundational principles is vital to learning chemistry across different contexts. One such foundational principle is the acid/base behavior of molecules. In the general chemistry sequence, the Bronsted-Lowry theory is stressed, because it lends itself well to studying equilibrium and kinetics. However, the Lewis theory of acids/bases is more broadly applicable beyond general chemistry, especially in organic chemistry, where direct correlations can be drawn between Lewis acids/bases and the underpinnings of mechanistic prediction. This study reports the outcomes of an investigation of organic chemistry students' understanding and application of acid/base theories in organic chemistry contexts. Participants completed problem-solving interviews, which included tasks related to acid/base understanding such as predicting acid strength and explaining nucleophiles/electrophiles. The results indicated that most students maintain declarative knowledge rooted in general chemistry training related to acids/bases, but they can't apply it in problem solving tasks. This assertion held true for most participants, whether chemistry majors or pre-professional majors. Further, flaws in student conceptual understanding of acid/base chemistry principles were revealed. (Contains 1 table and 1 figure.)
Royal Society of Chemistry. Thomas Graham House, Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge, CB4 0WF, UK. Tel: +44-1223 420066; Fax: +44-1223 423623; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A