Practitioner development in organic chemistry: How graduate students conceptualize organic acids


Using a model-eliciting activity (MEA) focused on Brønsted acids, this study probed organic chemistry graduate students' mental models regarding one of the important theoretical constructs of their field. The salient finding of this work is that the graduate students in this study considered acidity primarily as a function of bond polarization. Furthermore, although they referred to resonance and inductive effects in their explanations, the participants had difficulty characterizing each phenomenon. Overall, the participants' expressed models suggested that they didn't have well-developed conceptions of acids in their minds; rather, their models reflected a rationalization of the data provided in MEA. As a result the participants' mental models (a) showed little evidence of the anticipated hybridization of theoretical constructs; (b) were not applicable beyond the MEA data; and (c) lacked the predictive capability needed to produce new science. © The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Document Type





CER, Organic acids and bases, Organic chemistry, Practitioner knowledge, Theories-in-use, model-eliciting activity (MEA)

Publication Date


Journal Title

Chemistry Education Research and Practice