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Abstract

The study investigated the strategies used by 47 high school students to solve volumetric analysis problems in chemistry. Using the talking-aloud technique, the students were required to calculate the concentration of hydrochloric acid used in a titration with NaOH after having performed the titration themselves. Students were met individually and their verbalization audiotaped. After making this calculation, each student was asked to use the same data to predict the concentration of acid in three situations involving different mole ratios. It was found that two main strategies, Formula Approach and Proportional Approach with their variants, were employed by the students during the problem solving process. The Formula Approach was found to be used mainly by the students in the high ability group while students in the low ability group used the Proportional Approach. It was also found that problems involving 2:1 stoichiometric ratios presented a number of conceptual problems to the students. These conceptual problems were found to be related to their inability to write balanced equations or write correct formulas, focusing on only the strength of acid, inability to use the mole ratios in the calulations and deriving the mole ratios from the formulas of reactants.