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The Effect of a Visually-Based Intervention on Students’ Misconceptions Related to Solutions, Solubility, and Saturation in a Core Materials Course

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Interactive Approaches to Teaching Materials Fundamentals

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1189.1 - 23.1189.15

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Paper Authors


Stephen J Krause Arizona State University

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Stephen J. Krause is professor in the School of Materials in the Fulton School of Engineering at Arizona State University. He teaches in the areas of bridging engineering and education, capstone design, and introductory materials engineering. His research interests include evaluating conceptual knowledge, misconceptions and their repair, and conceptual change. He has co-developed a Materials Concept Inventory for assessing conceptual knowledge of students in introductory materials engineering classes. He is currently conducting research on misconceptions and development of strategies and tools to promote conceptual change in materials courses.

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Omowunmi Isaacs-Sodeye Arizona State University

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Omowunmi Isaacs-Sodeye is a Ph.D. graduate student of Curriculum and Instruction in Engineering Education program at the Teachers College of Arizona State University. She is interested in how students learn engineering concepts and the translation of curricular to different settings. Her research is in understanding students’ misconception in engineering sciences and best practices for teaching engineering education at the k–12 setting.

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The Effect of a Visually-Based Intervention to Address Students’ Misconceptions Related to Solutions, Solubility and Saturation in a Core Materials CourseStudents’ understanding of the concepts of unsaturated, saturated and supersaturated solutionshas been widely studied. Findings reveal that students arrive in core materials courses withmisconceptions about solutions and solubility from prior instruction. One study revealed that,while the majority of students are able to correctly define the concepts, less than 17% correctlymatched the definitions with the corresponding pictorial representation of the concepts. There aretwo common misconceptions found in the literature. One is that students mistake a saturatedsolution for a supersaturated solution when they see precipitates present in a solution. The otherone is that when students see a visual representation of a solution with excess solute in thesolvent, they mistake this for saturated solution instead of the supersaturated solution that itactually is. This research investigates the effect of a visually-based instructional interventionaimed at addressing these misconceptions. Data from this study (2012) were compared with theprior year (2011) when phase diagram graphs were used for instruction. The interventionconsists of a two- part worksheet based activity. Part one consists of sugar that has been added towater in stages while part two consists of a saturated solution which is left to evaporate in stagesthus producing a supersaturated solution. To this supersaturated solution is then added a smallamount of solute, which causes the excess solute in solution to precipitate out. followed with theadding of a small amount of solute. At each stage, students were allowed to arrive at their ownmeaning of the concepts and were also encouraged to explain their reasoning. Before and afterinstruction on the topic of solutions, phases, and phase diagrams students were given pre andpost topic quizzes. The scores for percent correct answers as well for as a quantitative rubric forexplanations were tallied and evaluated. Explanations were scored with a rubric and and mappedinto categories defined by emergent theme analysis. Results showed average post test scores of75% in 2012 (N= 26) and 64% in 2011 (N = 28). The unsaturated solution was the easiest todefine; having similar post-test scores for correct answers of 88% and 81% in 2012 and 2011respectively. Students’ explanations were correct 41% (2012) and 25% (2011) of the time.Analysis of post-test incorrect explanations revealed that they map into different categories for2012 compared to 2011. The main categories of mistakes that the majority of students in 2011mapped to were those of Incorrect Definitions and Misunderstanding of Solubility Concepts. In2012, the majority of mistakes mapped into a newly emergent category, Relative Comparisons ofSolution Concentrations. Overall, the visual intervention to build understanding of solutions andsolubility was moderately more successful that the previous year's graphical intervention thatused the phase diagram of salt and water. This may be correlated to students' earlierdemonstrated uncertainty about reading and interpreting graphs. More detail and results will bepresented in the paper.

Krause, S. J., & Isaacs-Sodeye, O. (2013, June), The Effect of a Visually-Based Intervention on Students’ Misconceptions Related to Solutions, Solubility, and Saturation in a Core Materials Course Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia.

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