CLASSICAL VS. INSTRUMENTAL ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY: THE ROLE OF METACONCEPTIONS

Analytical chemistry can be considered as one of the essential branches of chemistry whose significance in the context of teaching chemistry has been largely recognized in recent educational research. Most analytical chemistry courses distinguish between ‘classical’ or ‘non-instrumental’ analytical chemistry and ‘modern’ or ‘instrumental’ analytical chemistry. In previous works, we have studied the influence of the so-called meta-conceptions, flexible conceptions adopted by the university students dealing with the semantic, operational, etc. aspects of analytical chemistry, in the understanding of instrumental analysis (Doménech et al. 2009, 2010). Such metaconceptions deal with the so-called analytical properties (accuracy and precision, reproducibility, etc.), operational concepts (separation, identification), mathematical tools (linear correlation, integration, derivation) which have to be integrated with social demands for structuring chemical analysis. Here, it is explored the influence of such metaconceptions in learning analytical chemistry with regard to the relations between classical and instrumental analytical chemistry using questionnaires and structured interviews on a sample of university students (Chemistry degree).

As a result, it is concluded that spontaneous reasoning of the students involves a sharp dichotomy between classical and instrumental analytical chemistry that are viewed as non-equivalent with respect to their methodology, analytical performance and even with regard to their ultimate aims. This differential view appears to be directly related with existing metaconceptions in the formal, operational, methodological and social dimensions of analytical chemistry and chemical analysis. Such metaconceptions could be related with a pseudo-empiricist view of science impregnating students’ learning which appears to be particularly pronounced in relation to chemical analysis.

References:
DOMENECH, A.; GIMENO, J.V.; BOSCH, F. 2009. Misconceptions and metaconceptions in instrumental análisis. Acta Scientiae, 11, 73-87.
DOMENECH, A.; GIMENO, J.V.; BOSCH, F. 2010. Black boxes in analytical chemistry: University students misconceptions of instrumental analysis. Journal of US-China Education Review, 7, 15-29.