This report presents reviews of research on students’ misconceptions in eleven conceptual areas of chemistry

 “Beyond appearances” began because the Royal Society of Chemistry in London considered there was a need to bring together research on students’ misconceptions in chemistry. The report presents reviews of research on students’ misconceptions in eleven conceptual areas of chemistry. These are: states of matter; particle theory; changes of state; distinguishing between elements, compounds and mixtures; physical and chemical change; open and closed system chemical events; acids, bases and neutralisation; stoichiometry; chemical bonding; thermodynamics and chemical equilibrium. In the intervening time between the first edition and this one I have had the opportunity to think more and to publish ideas, many of which I have used in classrooms, about how misconceptions may be addressed.

The second edition came about by the kind invitation of José Antonio Chamizo Guerrero at the National University in Mexico City to translate the first edition into Spanish for publication in Mexico. Nearly four years have passed since the first edition was placed on the website, so I decided to update the original by combining work on strategies and key difficulties into the first basic report. Hence the second edition. The premise for “Beyond Appearances” is that many students aged 11-18 are likely to have misconceptions in the basic areas listed above, as they struggle to come to terms with the abstract ideas comprising chemistry.

The most significant misconceptions are described and discussed, together with, where possible, indications about the origins of these. Achieving good, chemically accurate understanding of the concepts comprising chemistry presents teachers with a significant challenge. If this is not taken seriously chemistry will remain a mystery for many. Hence the inclusion of activities at the ends of most sections. These are intended to provide ideas for further development, but most have been tried and tested in a range of educational settings. The final discussion makes suggestions for future work. Among the points made is a need to establish an understanding of how teachers teach, in order to share what “works”, and to develop improvements in our practice.

Please see the “Download” section for a full list of references used in Beyond Appearances by Vanessa Kind