vailable online at www.sciencedirect.com
1877-0428 © 2010 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Investigation the effectiveness of laboratory works related to
“acids and bases” on learning achievements and attitudes toward
*, Burcin Acar Sesen
Education Faculty, Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, 35160, Turkey
Education Faculty, Istanbul University, Istanbul, 34452, Turkey
Received October 21, 2009; revised December 30, 2009; accepted January 12, 2010
This study aims to investigate the effectiveness of laboratory works related to ‘Acids and Bases’ over teacher centred traditional
approach on high school students’ learning achievements and attitudes toward chemistry laboratory. The effects of laboratory
works were assessed by the participations of 108 10
grade students from four classes in two high schools, which were were
randomly assigned to experimental (N
=32) and control (N
=31) groups. Before the instruction, the pre-
test (KR-20 = 0.81), applied on all the students to identify their prior knowledge about the basic subjects to learn ‘Acids and
Bases’, and no significantly differences were found between experimental and control groups in each school (p>0.05). While the
subject of “Acids and Bases” was taught supported with laboratory experiments in the experimental groups, traditional approach
was used in the control groups. The results of the post-test (KR-20 = 0.77), applied after the instruction, indicated that students,
who performed experiments was significantly higher mean scores than those of control groups (p<0.05). Students’ pre and post-
attitudes towards chemistry laboratory were assessed by using Attitude toward Chemistry Laboratory Scale (Į=0.87), and found
that mean scores of the experimental groups significantly increased from 77.29 to 96.00 and from 80.03 to 97.66 (p<0.05).
Students’ answers to the scale were analysed in four dimensions as (i) Laboratory environment and using equipments; (ii)
Experimental process in the laboratory; (iii) Assessment in the laboratory and (iv) Cooperative learning in the laboratory, and
significantly increases in the mean scores of experimental group were determined for all the dimensions in comparison with
control groups students (p<0.05).
Keywords:Acids and bases; attitude towards chemistry laboratory; constructivism; laboratory works; learning achievement.
Laboratory work as an active learning method, which require students to involve in observing or manipulating real
objects and materials, have a distinctive and central role for development of students’ understanding of scientific
concepts, improving cognitive skills as well as developing positive attitudes (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989;
Garnett, Garnett, & Hacking, 1995; Hofstein & Lunetta, 1982 and 2002; Lunetta, 1998; Tobin, 1990).
* Leman Tarhan Tel.: +90-232-4204882 / 1317
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 2 (2010) 2631–2636
© 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
2632 Leman Tarhana and Burcin Acar Sesen / Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 2 (2010) 2631–2636
Hofstein, Shore and Kipnis (2004) reported that by providing students with opportunities to engage in appropriate
inquiry-type experiments in the chemistry laboratory, their cognitive abilities would be improved. In the other study,
Hofstein, Navon, Kipnis and Mamlok-Naaman (2005) investigated the ability of high-school chemistry students,
who perform chemistry experiments related to acids–bases, stoichiometry, oxidation and reduction, bonding, energy,
chemical equilibrium, and the rate of reactions, to ask meaningful and scientifically questions related to their
observations and findings in an inquiry-type experiment. They found that students who perform inquiry-type
experiment had experience in asking questions in the chemistry laboratory outperformed the control grouping in
their ability to ask more and better questions. Hofstein and Walberg (1995) felt that inquiry-type laboratories are
central to learning chemistry since students are involved in the process of conceiving problems and scientific
questions, formulating hypotheses, designing experiments, gathering and analyzing data, and drawing conclusions
about scientific problems or phenomena. The reseaches show that laboratory experiments, especially in chemistry,
which has been regarded as abstract and difficult to understand, increase students cognitive abilities. Researches
indicated that students at the different level from elementary school to university have misconceptions about ‘Acids
and Bases’ (Cros et al., 1986; Demircioglu, Ayas & Demircioglu, 2005; Furio-Mas et al., 2007; Orgill & Sutherland,
2008; Sheppard, 2006; Schmidt, 1991). Therefore, it should be attempt to construct and use active learning materials
to enhance students’ scientific understanding and preventing misconceptions by developing their knowledge
(Demircioglu, Ayas & Demircioglu, 2005; Sisovic & Bojovic, 2000). Attitudes, like learning achievement, are also
important outcomes of science education (Cheung, 2009). For this reason, in this study, it was aimed to investigate
the affects of active learning material developed based on constructivism related to ‘Acids and Bases’ on freshmen’s
learning achievements and attitudes towards fundamentals of chemistry lesson.
2.1. Purpose of the Research
The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of instruction supported with laboratory works related to the
‘Acids and Bases’ over teacher centred traditional approach on high school students’ achievements and attitudes
This study was conducted with participation of 108 high school students (17 years of aged) from four classes in
two randomly selected high schools in Izmir, in Turkey. Both school had two classes which were randomly assigned
to experimental (N
=32) and control groups (N
=31) in each. While students in the
experimental groups taught acid and bases supported with laboratory works based on constructivism, control group
that was instructed in a traditional teacher-centred manner.
The pre-test by twenty-five multiple-choice items was developed to identify students’ pre-knowledge and
concepts that are basis for learning ‘Acids and Bases’ such as solubility, solution, periodic table, electronegativity,
chemical bondings, chemical reactions, thermodynamics, chemical equilibrium by considering students
misconceptions identified according to investigation of many research (Ebenezer & Gaskell, 1995; Griffiths &
Preston, 1992; Peterson, Treagust & Garnett, 1989). The contents of the tests were validated by four university
members and six high school chemistry teachers. The test was piloted with 148 11
grade students for the reliability.
After the item analysis the reliability coefficient (KR-20) of the test was found to be 0.81.
The post-test consisting of 10 items was also developed by considering students misconceptions (Schmidt, 1991;
Sheppard, 2006; Demircioglu, Ayas & Demircioglu, 2005; Nakhleh & Krajcik, 1994). After the test were validated
by four chemistry educators and six high school chemistry teachers, it was applied on 196 11
grade students for the
reliability and reliability coefficient (KR-20) was found to be 0.77.
To assess the variations of students’ attitudes towards chemistry laboratory, 5-point Likert type Attitude toward
Chemistry Laboratory Scale (ATCLS) with 27 statements were developed by considering literature reviews (Carlo
& Bodner, 2004; Freedman, 1997). For the validity, the scale had been reviewed by seven educators in the different
universities, and then it applied on 191 students. After the reliability analysis, the Cronbach’s alpha reliability
Leman Tarhana and Burcin Acar Sesen / Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 2 (2010) 2631–2636
coefficient was found to be 0.87. Students’ attitudes were investigated in four dimensions as; (i) Laboratory
environment and using equipments; (ii) Experimental process in the laboratory; (iii) Assessment in the laboratory
and (iv) Cooperative learning in the laboratory.
In this study, while the subject of “Acids and Bases” was taught in the experimental groups supported with
laboratory experiments, traditional approach was used in the control groups. The laboratory experiments related to
indicators, reactions of acids and titrations were developed based on constructivism by considering students’
learning difficulties and misconception determined in the literature. The laboratory worksheets were prepared as
including -Aims of the experiments, -Equipments and chemicals, -The warnings, –Experimental procedures, and –
Leading Questions. The leading questions in the experiments’ worksheets were constructed critically to encourage
students to research, connect their existing knowledge to new ones, discuss and share their knowledge in the groups.
The experiments were validated by four chemistry educators and then piloted with participation of 21 high school
students to ensure its reliability.
The laboratory experiments were conducted by participation of 108 high school students in this study. Students in
the two experimental groups were randomly stratified to their cooperative groups by considering their first term
chemistry scores and some abilities such as communication, using technology, leadership. Rules of working in a
group, students’ and teachers’ roles, and assessment strategies were also explained by the teacher. Before the
instruction in the experimental group students were informed about using laboratory worksheets, laboratory
equipments and materials, laboratory rules, data evaluation, report writing techniques and laboratory safety via a
preparatory lesson. All the experiments were done by students under the guidance of the teacher just after the related
subject that learned during the course time. While students were working, teacher observed all the groups, and
assessed their performance by asking some guiding questions about the experiments. Student groups were also
encouraged to prepare laboratory reports for each experiment including the aim of the experiment, short explanation
of the experimental procedure, results, evaluation and discussion of the results by associated with various sample,
response to the questions in the laboratory worksheet, and conclusion.
The results of pre-test that applied to identify students’ pre-knowledge about the basic concepts and subjects to
learn ‘Acids and Bases’, showed that the mean scores of experimental and control groups in the second high school
were significantly higher than those in the first high school (F
=14.23, p<0.05; Table 1). However, Scheffe test
indicated that there were no significant differences between experimental and control groups in both high school (p
Table 1. ANOVA Results of Pre-Test
Standard Deviation (SD) F p
21 40.14 3.69
24 41.92 3.59
32 55.62 11.73
31 53.03 15.00
108 48.82 12.36
Besides to the pre-test, 15 minute semi-structure interviews were accomplished to identify the reason of
students’ answers to the pre-test and found that students in all groups had some misconceptions related to the basic
subjects for learning ‘Acids and Bases’ such as periodic table, electronegativity, chemical bonding, inter molecular
forces, chemical equilibrium.
After the instruction, post-test was applied to all groups to determine students’ understandings of the concepts
and subjects related to the laboratory works. As seen in Table 2, the ANOVA results indicated that there were
significantly differences between groups (F
= 154.11, p<0.05). According to Scheffe test, these significant
differences were between experimental and control group in each of the high school (p<0.05). This situation
reflected that the mean scores of students, who performed laboratory experiments based on constructivism, were
significantly higher than those of control group students laboratory works were effective on increasing students’
learning achievements. The results of the achievement test and also 15-minutes individual interviews also reflected
that experimental group students had lower misconceptions and lack of knowledge comparison with control group.
2634 Leman Tarhana and Burcin Acar Sesen / Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 2 (2010) 2631–2636
Table 2. Mean Scores of Experimental and Control Groups in the Post-Test
Standard Deviation (SD) F p
21 30.81 5.06
24 15.96 3.39
32 33.41 4.18
31 14.84 3.95
108 23.69 9.54
Students’ pre- and post-attitudes towards chemistry laboratory were assessed by using ATCLS. The ANOVA
results of the pre-test indicated that there were no significantly differences between groups (F
= 1.142, p>0.05).
As seen in Table 3, the mean scores of the experimental groups significantly increased from 77.29 to 96.00 and from
80.03 to 97.66 (p<0.05), however there were no significantly differences in the mean scores of control groups
(p>0.05). The ANOVA results of the post-test also showed the significantly differences (F
= 33.610, p<0.05).
According to the Scheffe test, the significantly differences were between Exp-1 and Cont-1, Exp-2 and Cont-2
Table 3. Pre- and Post Mean Scores of Experimental and Control Groups in the ATCLS
Group N Test
Standard Deviation (SD)
Pre 77.29 5.24
Post 96.00 8.44
Pre 76.71 6.37
Post 77.38 6.12
Pre 80.03 12.28
Post 97.66 12.31
Pre 80.16 7.54
Post 81.00 7.84
Pre 78.80 8.71
Post 88.05 12.75
Students’ answers to the ATCLS were analysed in four dimensions as (i) Laboratory environment and using
equipments; (ii) Experimental process in the laboratory; (iii) Assessment in the laboratory and (iv) Cooperative
learning in the laboratory. The results showed that experimental groups students’ mean scores for all the dimensions
increased significantly comparison with control groups students (p<0.05). Although students’ negative attitudes
towards laboratory were decreased significantly after the laboratory works, it was also found that some of the
students still had negative thoughts. According to the obtained findings from the ATCLS and individual interviews,
the reasons of these negative attitudes were determined. The results indicated that students had a fear of breaking
and damaging experimental apparatus, did not believe laboratory safety (i); did not believe the importance and
necessity of laboratory works, and prefer theoretical lessons than performing experiments (ii); did not believe the
importance of obtaining correct experimental findings, and to worry about teacher’s alert and misinterpreting the
experimental findings (iii); thought teaching something related to the experiment to the group mates was loss of time
and did not believe group solidarity. During the individual interviews, it was found that the reasons of these negative
thoughts were related to; -inadequate resources in the laboratory, -lack of confidence about using laboratory
equipments, -lack of conscious about laboratory safety and rules, -believing laboratory works did not contribute
their problem solving skills and university entrance exam, - lack of knowledge, experience and skills to perform
experiment, record data, write laboratory report, - worry to incur teacher’s disfavour, and -prefer individual
competition in contrast to cooperation.
Research conducted to investigate the educational effectiveness of laboratory work in science education have
shown that laboratory applications provide students to collect and analyse data, reflect on findings, increase learning
achievement, investigate, think, discuss, develop hands-on skills, improve attitudes (Hofstein and Lunetta 1982;
Hofstein, Shore and Kipnis 2004; Lazarowitz and Tamir 1994; Lunetta 1998, Tobin 1990). The results of this study
also reflect that instruction supported with laboratory experiments based on constructivism increase students’
learning achievement in the subject of ‘Acid and Bases’, and positively effect students’ attitudes towards chemistry
Leman Tarhana and Burcin Acar Sesen / Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 2 (2010) 2631–2636
In this research, while students in experimental and control groups were taught the same learning objectives, the
laboratory experiments developed according to constructivism were only used in the experimental group. After the
instruction, the obtained data from the post-test showed that the mean scores of students in the experimental groups
were 30.81 and 33.41, and in the control group 15.96 and 14.84. The ANOVA and Scheffe test results indicated that
there were significant differences between experimental and control group in each of the high school (F
154.11, p<0.05). Besides the statistical analysis, students’ responses during individual interviews reflected that
laboratory works effective on students’ learning achievement and preventing misconceptions as mentioned by the
other researches (Hofstein, Shore and Kipnis 2004; Hofstein and Lunetta 2002).
The data from ATCLS and individual interviews showed that students began to realise that their achievements
increased by strengthen of the knowledge learned in the class during the experimental process and to prefer the
theoretical lesson than performing experiments in the laboratory. These results were also supported by post-test and
show the effects of laboratory experiments on students learning achievement as also indicated by Hofstein et al.
(2004) and Keys et al. (1999). The increasing of students’ thought about laboratory environment should be safe for
the experiments supported that before the laboratory experiments, students commonly did not know laboratory
process, and they become conscious. As claimed by Wong & Fraser (1996), students’ perceptions of their chemistry
laboratory classroom environment and their attitudes have a strong association, and if students felt safety in the
learning environment they would show high performance. The obtained findings from the ACLS and individual
interviews also reflected that students began to feel comfortable in the laboratory as mentioned by the other
researches which underline that laboratory experiments helped students to increase their self-confidence (Hofstein &
Lunetta, 1982; Hofstein & Lunetta, 1996).
In conclusion, according to the results of the study, application of laboratory works developed based on
constructivism had great role for increasing students’ learning achievements and developing students’ positive
attitudes towards chemistry laboratory, in contrast to traditional teacher centred approach. For this reason, it can be
suggested that laboratory works should be developed based on constructivism for all the subjects in the high school
chemistry curriculum, and used chemistry classes widely.
This study was supported by The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (Project Number:
Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18, 32–41.
Carlo, D. I., & Bodner, G. M. (2004). Students' perceptions of academic dishonesty in the chemistry classroom laboratory. Journal of Research in
Science Teaching, 41, 47-64.
Cheung, D. (2009). Students’ Attitudes Toward Chemistry Lessons: The Interaction Effect between Grade Level and Gender. Research in
Science Education 39, 75–91
Cros, D., Amouroux, R., Chastrette, M., Fayol, M., Leber, J., & Maurin, M. (1986). Conceptions of 1st Year University Students of the
Constitution of Matter and the Notions of Acids and Bases. Euro. Journal of Science Education, 8, 305-313.
Demircio÷lu, G., Ayas, A., & Demircio÷lu, H. (2005). Conceptual change achieved through a new teaching program on acids and bases. Chem.
Educ. Res. Pract., 6, 36-51
Ebenezer, J.V., & Gaskell, P.J.(1995).Relational conceptual change in solution chemistry. Science Education,79,1-17.
Freedman, M.P. (1997). Relationships among laboratory instruction, attitudes toward science, and achievement in science knowledge. Journal of
Research in Science Teaching, 34, 343-357.
Furió-Más, C., Calatayud M.L., & Bárcenas S.L. (2007). Surveying students’ conceptual and procedural knowledge of acid–base behavior of
substances. Journal of Chemical Education, 84, 1717-1724.
Garnett, P. J, Garnett, P.J., & Hackling , M.W. 1995. Alternative conceptions in chemistry: a review of research and implications for teaching and
learning. Studies in Science Education, 25, 69-96.
Griffiths, A. K. & Preston, K. R. (1992). Grade 12 students’ misconceptions relating to fundamental characteristics of atoms and molecules.
Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 29, 611–628.
Hand, B. & Treagust, D. F. (1991).Student achievement and science curriculum development using a constructive framework. Sch. Sci. and
Math., 91,172 -76.
Hofstein,A., & Lunetta,V.N. (1982). The role of the laboratory in science teaching: Neglected aspects of research. Review of Educational
Research, 52, 201–217.
Hofstein, A., Shore, R., & Kipnis, M. (2004). Providing high school chemistry students with opportunities to develop learning skills in an
inquiry-type laboratory: A case study. International Journal of Science Education, 26, 47–62.
2636 Leman Tarhana and Burcin Acar Sesen / Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 2 (2010) 2631–2636
Hofstein, A., Navon, O., Kipnis, M., & Mamlok-Naaman, R. (2005). Developing students' ability to ask more and better questions resulting from
inquiry-type chemistry laboratories. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(7), 791-806.
Hofstein, A. & Walberg, H.J. (1995). Instructional strategies. In B.J. Fraser & H.J. Walberg (Eds.), Improving science education (pp. 1-20).
Chicago, IL: National Society for the Study of Education.
Keys, C. W., Hand, B., Prain, V., & Collins, S. (1999). Using the science writing heuristic as a tool for learning from laboratory investigations in
secondary science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 36, 1065-1084.
Lazarowitz R., & Tamir, P. (1994). Research on using laboratory instruction in science. In D.L. Gabel (Ed.), Handbook of research on science
teaching (pp. 94–127). New York: Macmillan
Lunetta, V.N. (1998). The school science laboratory: Historical perspectives and context for contemporary teaching. In B. Fraser & K. Tobin
(Eds.), International handbook of science education (pp. 249–264). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.
Nakhleh, M. B. & Krajcik, J. S. (1994). Influence on levels of information as presented by different technologies on students' understanding of
acid, base, and pH concepts. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 31, 1077-1096
Orgill, M.K & Sutherland, A. (2008).Undergraduate chemistry students’ perceptions of and misconceptions about buffers and buffer problems.
Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 9, 131–143
Peterson, R.F., Treagust, D.F., & Garnett, P. (1989). Grade-12 students misconceptions of covalent bonding and structure. Journal of Chemical
Education, 66, 459-460.
Schmidt, H. J. (1991). A label as a hidden persuader: chemists' neutralization concept. International Journal of Science Education, 13, 459- 472.
Sheppard, K. (2006). High school students’ understanding of titrations and related acid-base phenomena. Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 7, 32-45
Sisovic, D. & Bojovic, S. (2000).Approaching the concepts of acids and bases by cooperative learning. Chem. Edu:Res.and Prac.in Europe, 1,
Tobin, K. G. (1990). Research on science laboratory activities: In pursuit of better questions and answers to improve learning. School Science and
Mathematics, 90, 403–418.