Students' dilemmas in reaction stoichiometry problem solving: deducing the limiting reagent in chemical reactions

Chandrasegaran, A. L. and Treagust, David F. and Waldrip, Bruce G. and Chandrasegaran, Antonia (2009) Students' dilemmas in reaction stoichiometry problem solving: deducing the limiting reagent in chemical reactions. Chemistry Education Research and Practice , 10 (1). pp. 14-23.


A qualitative case study was conducted to investigate the understanding of the limiting reagent concept and the strategies used by five Year 11 students when solving four reaction stoichiometry problems. Students’ written problem-solving strategies were studied using the think-aloud protocol during problem-solving, and retrospective verbalisations after each activity. Contrary to several findings reported in the research literature, the two high-achieving students in the study tended to rely on the use of a memorised formula to deduce the limiting reagent, by comparing the actual mole ratio of the reactants with the stoichiometric mole ratio. The other three average-achieving students, however, generally deduced the limiting reagent from first principles, using the stoichiometry of the balanced chemical equation. Overall, the students displayed limited confidence during problem-solving to determine the limiting reagent and to perform related computations.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher copyright policy.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Education
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2011 10:30
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2014 02:21
Uncontrolled Keywords: limiting reagent; reasoning strategies; retrospective verbalisations; stoichiometry problem solving; think-aloud protocols
Fields of Research : 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1702 Cognitive Sciences > 170202 Decision Making
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
03 Chemical Sciences > 0306 Physical Chemistry (incl. Structural) > 030601 Catalysis and Mechanisms of Reactions
13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130106 Secondary Education
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970103 Expanding Knowledge in the Chemical Sciences
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1039/B901456J

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