Acids and Bases: The Appropriation of The Arrhenius Model by Tunisian Grade 10 Students

  • Latifa Ouertatani
  • Alain DumonEmail author
  • Malika Ayadi Trabelsi
  • Mohamed Soudani


In this work, we propose to identify the knowledge that Tunisian grade 10 students build up concerning acids and bases. Thus, after learning, we have proceeded by giving a paper and pencil task to students of two levels of teaching. The results obtained allow us to say that the assimilated knowledge is transitory; that the students have a worse perception of the base than of the acid concept and these two concepts are independent; that they associate the acid or base strength to its concentration; that the pH is far from being a “tool” of estimation of the degree of acidity; and that the students have difficulty in linking the empirical and the models’ registers. Moreover, some alternative conceptions that can be harmful to the learning of Brønsted’s model appear.

Key words

Arrhenius model acid base conceptions empirical and models’ register 


  1. Besson, M.A. (1994). Approach of the notions of acid and base by the students at the end of the secondary. In Proceedings of the fourth national seminary of the research in didactics of the physical sciences, Amiens, France, (pp. 93–100), “Institut Universitaire de Formation des Maîtres” of Picardy.Google Scholar
  2. Botton, C. (1995). Collaborative concept mapping and formative assessment key stage 3: Understanding of acids and bases. School Science Review, 77(279), 124–130.Google Scholar
  3. Camacho, M. & Good, R. (1989). Problem solving and chemical equilibrium: Successful versus unsuccessful performance. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 26(3), 251–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cisse, Z. (1998). School knowledge and professional skills: The case of acids and bases in agriculture. Diploma of Detailed Studies of didactics of the scientific disciplines, Claude Bernard Lyon 1 University (France).Google Scholar
  5. Cros, D., Maurin, M., Amouroux, R., Chastrette, M. & Fayol, M. (1986). Conceptions of first-year university students of the constituents of matter and the notions of acids and bases. European Journal of Science Education, 8(3), 305–313.Google Scholar
  6. Davy, H. (1810). Research on the oxymuriatic acid, its nature and combination, and on the elements of the muriatic acid, with some experiments on sulphur and phosphorous. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 231–257Google Scholar
  7. De Vos, W. & Pilot, A. (2001). Acids and bases in layer: The stratal structure of an ancient topic. Journal of Chemical Education, 78(4), 494–499.Google Scholar
  8. Dori, Y. & Hameiri, M. (2003). Multidimensional analysis system for quantitative chemistry problem: Symbol, macro, micro and process aspects. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40(3), 278–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Driver, R., Squire, A., Rushworth, P. & Wood-Robinson, V. (1994). Making sense of secondary science. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Garnett, P.J., Garnett, P.J. & Hackling, M.W. (1995) Students’ alternative conceptions in chemistry: A review of research and implications for teaching and learning. Studies in Science Education, 25, 69–95.Google Scholar
  11. Hand, M.B. (1989). Student understandings of acids and bases: A two-year study. Research in Science Education, 19, 133–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hand, M.B. & Treagust, D.F. (1988). Application of a conceptual conflict teaching strategy to enhance student learning of acids and bases. Research in Science Education, 18, 53–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Harrison, A.G. & Treagust, D.F. (2000). Learning about atoms, molecules, and chemical bonds: A case study of multiple-model use in grade 11 chemistry. Science Education, 84, 352–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hawkes, S-J. (1992). Arrhenius confuses students. Journal of Chemical Education, 69(7), 542–543.Google Scholar
  15. Johnstone, A.H. (1980). Chemical education research: Facts, findings and consequences. Nyholm Lecture. Chemical Society Reviews, 9(3), 365–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Johnstone, A.H. (1991). Thinking about thinking. International Newsletter of Chemical Education, 36, 7–11.Google Scholar
  17. Lavoisier, A.L. (1789). Traité élémentaire de chimie, Cuchet Libraire, Paris, reproduction de l’édition originale, Culture et Civilisation, Bruxelles, 1965, Libraire Blanchard, Paris.Google Scholar
  18. Liebig, J. (1838). Lettre de Mr Liebig à Mr le Président. Comptes Rendus de l’Académie des Sciences, 6, 823–829.Google Scholar
  19. Martinand, J.L. (1992). Education and learning of the modelling in sciences. Paris: Institut National de Recherche Pédagogique/LIREST.Google Scholar
  20. Naklheh, M.B. (1994). Students’ models of matter in the context of acid-base chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education, 7(6), 495–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Nakhleh, M.B. & Krajcik, J.S. (1994). Influence of levels of information as presented by different technologies on students’ understanding of acid, base and pH concepts. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 31(10), 1077–1096.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ouertatani, L., Trabelsi-Ayadi, M., Dumon, A. & Soudani, M.L. (2005). Acids and bases: Between the common perception and the scientific models – the Tunisian pupils. In INRP (Ed.), Actes des Quatrièmes rencontres de lARDIST (pp. 273–276). France: Lyon.Google Scholar
  23. Oversby, J. & Spear, M. (1997). Progression in understandings of pH at secondary school: A study of a whole school. In Proceeding of the 4th ECRICE Conference York, UK, (pp. 9–12).Google Scholar
  24. Ross, B. & Munby, H. (1991). Concept mapping and misconceptions: A study of high-school students understanding of acids and bases. International Journal of Science Education, 13(1), 11–23.Google Scholar
  25. Taber, K. (2001). Building the structural concepts of chemistry: Some considerations from educational research. Chemistry Education: Research and Practice In Europe, 2(2), 123–158.Google Scholar
  26. Toplis, R. (1998). Ideas about acids and alkalis. School Science Review, 80(291), 67–70.Google Scholar
  27. Vinner, S. (1997). The pseudo-conceptual and the pseudo-analytical thought processes in mathematics learning. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 34, 97–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Zoller, U. (1990). Students’ misunderstandings and misconceptions in college freshman chemistry (general and organic). Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 27(10), 1053–1065.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© National Science Council, Taiwan 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Latifa Ouertatani
    • 2
  • Alain Dumon
    • 1
    Email author
  • Malika Ayadi Trabelsi
    • 2
  • Mohamed Soudani
    • 3
  1. 1.IUFM d’Aquitaine-DAESTMérignacFrance
  2. 2.ISEFCTunisTunisie
  3. 3.IUFM de LyonLyonFrance

Personalised recommendations