Upper Secondary School and University Level Students’ Perceptions of Extractions in Context: Experiences from a Simple Laboratory Experiment

01 October 2021, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


We discuss the pedagogical challenges associated with the current way of introducing extraction in upper secondary school chemistry education. These challenges were identified based on a survey of upper secondary school textbooks and verified through a questionnaire study. To address the identified challenges, we introduce a simple and effective extraction experiment which focuses on building a deeper conceptual understanding of extraction processes. The operationally simple extraction experiment and the accompanying questionnaire revealed that while students have several chemical misconceptions arising from the use of superficial everyday examples, they have all the necessary knowledge for developing a deeper understanding of chemistry. Providing a suitable experimental platform for developing and re-evaluating their knowledge allows the students to reasonably independently re-conceptualize their thinking toward a more coherent view of the surrounding world and the related scientific models. Furthermore, the work analyses the challenges that can be encountered when using everyday examples in teaching, and demonstrates that student-discovered examples of chemical systems can be a powerful method for generating meaningful and relevant ways to introduce scientific phenomena in STEM education.


environmental chemistry
upper secondary school education
laboratory experiment
student-led concept discovery
hands-on learning

Supplementary materials

Supplementary material
S1 “Extraction of methylene blue from 1-octanol with water” - Student’s guide, S2 “Extraction of methylene blue from 1-octanol with water” - Instructor’s guide, S3 Questionnaire questions and response data


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