Science & Education

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 173–193 | Cite as

Instructional Misconceptions in Acid-Base Equilibria: An Analysis from a History and Philosophy of Science Perspective

  • Margarita Kousathana
  • Margarita Demerouti
  • Georgios Tsaparlis


The implications of history and philosophy of chemistry are explored in the context of chemical models. Models and modeling provide the context through which epistemological aspects of chemistry can be promoted. In this work, the development of ideas and models about acids and bases (with emphasis on the Arrhenius, the Brønsted–Lowry, and the Lewis models) are presented. In addition, misconceptions (alternative and instructional ones) on acid-base (ionic) equilibria are examined from the history and philosophy of science perspective. The relation between the development of the models and students’ misconceptions are investigated. Finally, the hypothesis that history and philosophy could help educators anticipate students’ misconceptions is examined.


instructional misconceptions acid-base chemistry acid-base equilibria ionic equilibria; history of chemistry philosophy of chemistry models for acids and bases 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Akeroyd, F.M. 1984‘Chemistry and the Popperism’Journal of Chemical Education61697698Google Scholar
  2. Armstrong, H.E. 1896‘Letters to the Editor’Nature5578Google Scholar
  3. Arons, A.B. 1990A Guide to Introductory Physics TeachingJohn WileyNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Arrhenius S.(1887) ’Uber die Dissociation der in Wasser gelosten Stoffe’, Zeitschrift fur Physicalische Chemie i, 631-648.Google Scholar
  5. Arrhenius, S. 1912‘Electrolytic Dissociation’Journal of the American Chemical Societyxxxiv353364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Benseghir A.(1989) Transition Electrostatique - Electrocinetique: Point de Vue Historique et Analyse des Difficultes des Eleves Ph.D. Thesis Universite Paris VII.Google Scholar
  7. Bent, H.A. 1977‘Uses of History and Philosophy in Teaching Chemistry’Journal of Chemical Education54462466Google Scholar
  8. Block, W.H. 1992The Fontana History of ChemistryFontana PressLondon5361Google Scholar
  9. Boas, M. 1956Achevéinternationale de histoire desSciences91328Google Scholar
  10. Brønsted, J.N. 1923‘Some Remarks on the Concept of Acids and Bases’Recueil des Travaux Chimiques des Pays-Bas42718728Google Scholar
  11. Brush, S. 1978‘Why Chemistry Needs History and How it Can Get Some’Journal of College Science Teaching7288291Google Scholar
  12. Brushan, N.Rosenfeld, S. eds. 2000Of Minds and MoleculesOxford University PressNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  13. Carr, M. 1984‘Model Confusion in Chemistry’Research in Science Education1497103Google Scholar
  14. Berg, K.C. 2003‘The development of the theory of electrolytic dissociation’Science & Education12397419Google Scholar
  15. Demerouti M.(2002) Misconceptions among Greek High School Students on the Subject of Ionic Equilibria (in Greek), Thesis for graduate diploma in Chemistry Education and New Educational Technologies (DiCheNET), University of Athens Athens.Google Scholar
  16. Duit R.(1994) ’Conceptual Change Approaches in Science Education’, Paper presented at the Symposium on Conceptual Change, 1-3, September Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena, Germany.Google Scholar
  17. Ellis, P. 1989‘Practical Chemistry in a Historical Context’Shortland, M.Warwick, A.( eds. Teaching the History of Science BasilBlackwellOxfordGoogle Scholar
  18. Erduran, S. 2000a‘Emergence and Application of Philosophy of Chemistry in Chemistry Education’School Science Review818587Google Scholar
  19. Erduran, S. 2000‘A Missing Component in the Curriculum?’Education in Chemistry37168Google Scholar
  20. Erduran, S. 2001‘Philosophy of Chemistry: An Emerging Field with Implications for Chemistry Education’Science & Education10581593Google Scholar
  21. Fitzerald, G.F. 1896‘Helmholtz Memorial Lecture’Journal of the Chemical SocietyLXIX885912Google Scholar
  22. Garnett, P.J., Garnett, P.J., Hackling, M.W. 1995‘Students’ AlternativeMisconceptions in Chemistry: A Review of Research and Implications for Teaching and Learning’Studies in Science Education256995Google Scholar
  23. Gilbert, J., Boulter, C. 1997‘Learning Science Through Models andModeling’Frazer, B.Tobin, K eds. The International Handbook of Science EducationKluwer Academic PublishersDordrechtGoogle Scholar
  24. Glynn, S., Britton, B.K., Semrud-Clikeman, M., Muth, K.D. 1989‘Analogical Reasoning and Problem Solving in Science Textbooks’Glover, J.A.Ronning, R.R.Reynolds, C.R. eds. Handbook in CreativityPlenum PressNew York383398Google Scholar
  25. Griffiths A.K. (1994). ’A Critical Analysis and Synthesis of Research on Students’ Chemistry Misconceptions’. In: Schmidt H.J.(eds). Problem Solving and Misconceptions in Chemistry and Physics ICASE, pp. 70-79.Google Scholar
  26. Grosslight, K., Unger, C., Jay, E., Smith, C. 1991‘Understanding Models and their Use in Science: Consertions of Middle and High School Students Experts’Journal of Research in Science Teaching29799822Google Scholar
  27. Hankins, T.L. 1989Science and the EnlightenmentCambridge University PressCambridgeGoogle Scholar
  28. Heeren, J.K. 1990‘Teaching Chemistry by the Socratic Method’Journal of Chemical Education67330331Google Scholar
  29. Herron, J.D. 1977‘The Place of History in the Teaching of Chemistry’Journal of Chemical Education541516Google Scholar
  30. Herroun, E.F. 1896‘Letters to the Editor’Nature55152Google Scholar
  31. Hodson, D. 1988‘Towards a Philosophically More Valid Science Curriculum’Science Education721940Google Scholar
  32. Idhle A.J. (1984). The Development of Modern Chemistry Dover Publications Inc., pp. 12, 199-201, 547-548.Google Scholar
  33. Jaffe, B. 1938‘The History of Chemistry and its Place in the Teaching of Chemistry’Journal of Chemical Education15383389Google Scholar
  34. Jensen, W.B. 1998‘Logic History, and the Chemistry Textbook’Part I Journal of Chemical Education75817828Google Scholar
  35. Justi, R., Gilbert, J. 1999‘A Cause on Ahistorical Science Teaching: Use of Hybrid Models’Science Education83163167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kauffman, G.B. 1989‘History in the Chemistry Curriculum’Interchange20163177Google Scholar
  37. Kesidou, S., Duit, R. 1993‘Students’ Conceptions of the Second Law of Thermodynamics - An Interpretive Study’Journal of Research in Science Teaching3085106Google Scholar
  38. Kuhn, T. 1970The Structure of Scientific Revolutions2University of Chicago PressChicagoGoogle Scholar
  39. Leisten, J. 1994‘Teaching Alchemy?’Chemistry in Britain30552Google Scholar
  40. Lewis, E.L., Linn, M.C. 1994‘Heat Energy and Temperature Concepts of Adolescents Adults, and Experts: Implications for Curricular Improvements’Journal of Research in Science Teaching31657677Google Scholar
  41. Lewis G.N.(1938) Journal Franklin Inst. 226, 297.Google Scholar
  42. Lincoln, Y. 1989‘Trouble in the Hand: The Paradigm Revolution in the Academic Disciplines’Smart, J.C. eds. Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and ResearchAgathon PressNew York57133Vol. VGoogle Scholar
  43. Liodakis, S., Gakis, D., Theodoropoulos, D., Theodoropoulos, P. 2002Chemistry for Twelfth Grade (Positive Branch) (in Greek)OEDBAthensGoogle Scholar
  44. Liodakis, S., Gakis, D., Theodoropoulos, D., Theodoropoulos, P., Kallis, A. 2003Chemistry for Eleventh Grade Positive Branch) (in Greek)OEDBAthensGoogle Scholar
  45. Liodakis, S., Gakis, D., Theodoropoulos, D., Theodoropoulos, P., Kallis, A. 2003Chemistry for Tenth Grade Positive Branch) (in Greek)OEDBAthensGoogle Scholar
  46. Lowry, T. M. 1923‘The Uniqueness of Hydrogen’Chemistry and Industry424347Google Scholar
  47. Matthews, M.R. 1998‘In the Defense of Modest Goals when Teaching about the Nature of Science’Journal of Research in Science Teaching35161174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McComas, W.F., Almazroa, H., Clough, M.P. 1998‘The Nature of Science in Science Education: An Introduction’Science and Education7511532CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Nagel E.(1961) The Structure of Science Harcourt, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  50. Nakiboglu C.(2003) ’InstructionalMisconceptions of Turkish Prospective Chemistry Teachers about Atomic Orbitals and Hybridization Chemistry Education: Research and Practice 4, 171-188 [].Google Scholar
  51. National Research Council1996National Science Educational StandardsNational Academy PressWashington, DCGoogle Scholar
  52. Niaz M. & Rodriguez M.(2000) ’Teaching Chemistry as a Rhetoric of Conclusions or Heuristic Principles - A History and Philosophy of Science Perspective’, Chemical Education: Research and Practice in Europe 1, 315-322. [].Google Scholar
  53. Niaz M. & Rodriguez M.(2001) ’Do we have to Introduce History and Philosophy of Science or is it already inside Chemistry?’, Chemical Education: Research and Practice in Europe 2, 159-164 [].Google Scholar
  54. Nye, M.G. 1993From Chemical Philosophy to Theoretical ChemistryUniversity of California PressBerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  55. Oppe, G. 1936‘The Use of Chemical History in the High School’Journal of Chemical Educaton13412414Google Scholar
  56. Paraskevopoulos N.I.(1993) Methodology of Scientific Research Volume 1 & 2 (in Greek), Self- Publication Athens.Google Scholar
  57. Pickering, S. 1897‘Letters to Editor’Nature55223Google Scholar
  58. Raoult F.M.: 1882a, Comptes Rendus 94, 1517.Google Scholar
  59. Raoult F.M.: 1882b, Comptes Rendus 95, 1881.Google Scholar
  60. Raoult F.M.(1884) Annales de Chimique Physique 2(vi), 66.Google Scholar
  61. Rodriguez, M.A., Niaz, M. 2002‘How in Spite of the Rhetoric History of Chemistry has been Ignored in Presenting Atomic Structure in Textbooks’Science & Education11423441Google Scholar
  62. Russell C.A.(1985) Recent Developments in the History of Chemistry Royal Society of Chemistry, Whitstable Litho Kent.Google Scholar
  63. Sammis, J.H. 1932‘A Plan for Including Biographical Material into Science Courses’Journal of Chemical Education9900902Google Scholar
  64. Scerri, E. 1991‘Chemistry Sprectroscory and the Question of Reduction’Journal of Chemical Education68122126Google Scholar
  65. Scerri, E. 1994‘Predictions of the Nature of the Hafnium from Chemistry Bohr’s Theory and Quantum Theory’Annals of Science51137150Google Scholar
  66. Scerri, E.R. 2000‘The Failure of Reduction and How to Resist the Disunity of Science in Chemical Education’Science & Education9405425Google Scholar
  67. Scerri E.(2001) ’The New Philosophy of Chemistry and its Relevance to Chemical Education’, Chemical Education: Research and Practice in Europe 2, 165-170. [].Google Scholar
  68. Scerri, E.R., McIntyre, L. 1997‘The Case of Philosophy of Chemistry’Syntheses111213232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Schmidt, H.-J. 1991‘A Label as a Hidden Persuader: Chemists’ Neutralization Concept’International Journal of Science Education13459471Google Scholar
  70. Sequeira, M., Leite, L. 1991‘Alternative Conceptions and History of Science in Physics Teacher Education’Science Education754556Google Scholar
  71. Seroglou, F., Koumaras, P. 2001‘The Contribution of the History of Physics in Physics Education: A Review’Science & Education10153172Google Scholar
  72. Sevros, J.W. 1996Physical Chemistry from Ostwald to PaulingPrinceton University PressPrinceton135Google Scholar
  73. Shiland, T.W. 1998‘The Atheoretical Nature of the National Science Education Standards’Science Education82615617CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Siegel, H. 1978‘Kuhn and Schwab on Science Texts and the Goals on Science Education’Educational Theory28302309Google Scholar
  75. Skelly K.M. & Hall D.(1993) ’The Development and Validation of a Categorization of Sources of Misconceptions in Chemistry’. Paper presented at the Third International Seminar on Misconceptions and Educational Strategies in Science and Mathematics IthacaGoogle Scholar
  76. Suckling, C.J., Suckling, K.E., Suckling, C.W. 1978Chemistry Through ModelsCambridge University PressCambridgeGoogle Scholar
  77. Stinner, A. 1992‘Science Textbooks and Science Teaching: From Logic to Evidence’Science Education76116Google Scholar
  78. Tomasi, J. 1988‘Models and Modeling in Theoretical Chemistry’Journal of Molecular Structure (Theochem.)48273292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Trindle, C. 1984‘The Hierarchy of Models in Chemistry’Croatica Chemica Acta571231Google Scholar
  80. Tyson, L.M., Venville, G.J., Harrison, A.G., Treagust, D.F. 1997‘A Multidimensional Framework for Interpreting Conceptual Change Events in the Classroom’Science Education81387404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Van Brakel J.(1994) ’On the Neglect of Philosophy of Chemistry’, Paper presented at the First International Conference On Philosophy of Chemistry London.Google Scholar
  82. Brakel, J. 2000The Philosophy of ChemistryUniversity of Louvain PressLouvainGoogle Scholar
  83. Driel, J.H., Vos, W., Verloop, N. 1998‘Relating Students’ Reasoning to the History of Science: The Case of Chemical Equilibrium’Research in Science Education28187198Google Scholar
  84. Wandersee, J.H. 1985‘Can the History of Science Help Educators Anticipate Students’ Misconceptions?’Journal of Research in Science Teaching23581597Google Scholar
  85. Wasserman E., Schaefer H.F. (1986) ’Methylene Geometry’ Science 233.Google Scholar
  86. Weck M.A.(1995) ’Are Today’s Models Tomorrow’s Misconceptions?’, Proceedings of the Third International History and Philosophy and Science Teaching Conference Vol. 2, University of Minnesota Minneapolis, pp. 1286-1294.Google Scholar
  87. Whiteley, P. 1993‘The History of Physics - Its Use in a Caribbean Physics Syllabus’School Science Review75123127Google Scholar
  88. Wiser, M., Carey, S. 1983‘When Heat and Temperature were One’Gentner, D.Stevens, A.L. eds. Mental ModelsLawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers HillsdaleNJ/LondonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margarita Kousathana
    • 1
    • 2
  • Margarita Demerouti
    • 2
  • Georgios Tsaparlis
    • 3
  1. 1.Experimental Secondary SchoolUniversity of AthensGreece
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry, Graduate Programme DiCheNETUniversity of AthensGreece
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryUniversity of IoanninaGreece

Personalised recommendations