Development and Validation of a Four-Tier Diagnostic Instrument for Chemical Kinetics (FTDICK)

Habiddin Habiddin(1*), Elizabeth Mary Page(2)

(1) Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Mathematics and Science, Universitas Negeri Malang, Jl. Semarang No. 5, Malang 65145, East Java, Indonesia
(2) Department of Chemistry, University of Reading, Whiteknights Park, Reading RG6 6AD, United Kingdom
(*) Corresponding Author


The present study outlines the development and validation of a four-tier diagnostic instrument to explore first year undergraduate students’ understanding of chemical kinetics (FTDICK). The four-tier instrument is a recent format and has been applied only sparsely in a limited number of subject areas, not including chemical kinetics. This study confirms the importance of a four-tier approach in fully investigating students’ poor knowledge and understanding. The FTDICK described here involves 20 questions with a confidence level linked to both the question tier and the reason tier. The development of the instrument followed the procedure used for the two-tier instrument developed by Treagust and involves (1) testing & interviewing, (2) identifying & collecting students’ unscientific ideas, (3) developing the prototype FTDICK, (4) validating the prototype FTDICK, and (5) developing the final FTDICK. The initial steps revealed a number of areas of misconceptions to be explored in the final instrument. The instrument has been developed and the prototype tested using international cohorts of students from the University of Reading, UK and two Indonesian Universities. Comprehensive item analysis on the results showed the instrument to be valid and reliable and suitable for identifying students’ understanding of chemical kinetics. This study confirms the importance of a four-tier approach for investigating students’ prior knowledge and understanding.


validation; four-tier instrument; Four-Tier Diagnostic Instrument for Chemical Kinetics (FTDICK)


[1] Hailikari, T.K., and Nevgi, A., 2010, How to diagnose at-risk students in chemistry: The case of prior knowledge assessment, Int. J. Sci. Educ., 32, 2079–2095.

[2] Seery, M.K., 2009, The role of prior knowledge and student aptitude in undergraduate performance in chemistry: a correlation-prediction study, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 10 (3), 227–232.

[3] Bennett, J.M., and Sozbilir, M., 2007, A study of Turkish chemistry undergraduates’ understandings of entropy, J. Chem. Educ., 84 (7), 1204–1208.

[4] Caleon, I., and Subramaniam, R., 2010, Development and application of a three-tier diagnostic test to assess secondary students’ understanding of waves, Int. J. Sci. Educ., 32 (7), 939–961.

[5] Carson, E.M., and Watson, J.R., 2002, Undergraduate students’ understanding of entropy and gibbs free energy, Univ. Chem. Educ., 6, 4–12.

[6] Treagust, D.F., 2002, “Teaching and Learning About Chemical Compounds” in Chemical Education: Towards Research-based Practice, Eds., Gilbert, J.K., De Jong, O., Justi, R., Treagust, D.F., and Van Driel, J.H., Springer, Netherlands, 187–188.

[7] Taştan, Ö., Yalçinkaya, E., and Boz, Y., 2010, Pre-service chemistry teachers’ idea about reaction mechanism, J. Turk. Sci. Educ., 7 (1), 47–60.

[8] Habiddin, 2018, Development of a Four-Tier Diagnostic Instrument in Chemical Kinetics (FTDICK) to Investigate First-Year Students’ Understanding and Misconceptions in the Area, Thesis, University of Reading, United Kingdom.

[9] Osborne, R.., and Gilbert, J.K., 1980, A method for investigating concept understanding in science, Eur. J. Sci. Educ., 2 (3), 311–321.

[10] Novak, J.D., 1990, Concept mapping: A useful tool for science-education, J. Res. Sci. Teach., 27 (10), 937–949.

[11] Peterson, R.F., Treagust, D.F., and Garnett, P., 1989, Development and application of a diagnostic instrument to evaluate grade-11 and -12 students’ concepts of covalent bonding and structure following a course of instruction, J. Res. Sci. Teach., 26 (4), 301–314.

[12] Taber, K.S., 1999, Ideas about ionisation energy: A diagnostic instrument, Sch. Sci. Rev., 81 (295), 97–104.

[13] Kinchin, I.M., 2000, Using concept maps to reveal understanding: A two-tier analysis, Sch. Sci. Rev., 81 (296), 41–46.

[14] Chandrasegaran, A.L., Treagust, D.F., and Mocerino, M., 2007, The development of a two-tier multiple-choice diagnostic instrument for evaluating secondary school students’ ability to describe and explain chemical reactions using multiple levels of representation, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 8 (3), 293–307.

[15] Towns, M.H., and Robinson, W.R., 1993, Student use of test-wiseness strategies in solving multiple-choice chemistry examinations, J. Res. Sci. Teach., 30 (7), 709–722.

[16] Peşman, H., and Eryilmaz, A., 2010, Development of a three-tier test to assess misconceptions about simple electric circuits, J. Educ. Res., 103 (3), 208–222.

[17] Dindar, A.C., and Geban, O., 2011, Development of a three-tier test to assess high school students’ understanding of acids and bases, Procedia Soc. Behav. Sci., 15, 600–604.

[18] Treagust, D.F., 1988, Development and use of diagnostic tests to evaluate students’ misconceptions in science, Int. J. Sci. Educ., 10 (2), 159–169.

[19] Tan, K.C.D., Goh, N.K., Chia, L.S., and Treagust, D.F., 2002, Development and application of a two-tier multiple choice diagnostic instrument to assess high school students’ understanding of inorganic chemistry qualitative analysis, J. Res. Sci. Teach., 39 (4), 283–301.

[20] Tan, K.C.D., and Treagust, D.F., 1999, Evaluating students’ understanding of chemical bonding, Sch. Sci. Rev., 81 (294), 75–83.

[21] Tyson, L., Treagust, D.F., and Bucat, R.B., 1999, The complexity of teaching and learning chemical equilibrium, J. Chem. Educ., 76 (4), 554–558.

[22] Hasan, S., Bagayoko, D., and Kelley, E.L., 1999, Misconceptions and the Certainty of Response Index (CRI), Phys. Educ., 34 (5), 294–299.

[23] Voska, K.W., and Heikkinen, H.W., 2000, Identification and analysis of student conceptions used to solve chemical equilibrium problems, J. Res. Sci. Teach., 37 (2), 160–176.

[24] Arslan, H.O., Cigdemoglu, C., and Moseley, C., 2012, A three-tier diagnostic test to assess pre-service teachers’ misconceptions about global warming, greenhouse effect, ozone layer depletion, and acid rain, Int. J. Sci. Educ., 34 (11), 1667–1686.

[25] Loh, A.S.L., Subramaniam, R., and Tan, K.C.D., 2014, Exploring students’ understanding of electrochemical cells using an enhanced two-tier diagnostic instrument, Res. Sci. Technol. Educ., 32 (3), 229–250.

[26] Sreenivasulu, B., and Subramaniam, R., 2013, University students’ understanding of chemical thermodynamics, Int. J. Sci. Educ., 35 (4), 601–635.

[27] Bain, K., and Towns, M.H., 2016, A review of research on the teaching and learning of chemical kinetics, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 17 (2), 246–262.

[28] Caleon, I., and Subramaniam, R., 2010, Do students know what they know and what they don’t know? Using a four-tier diagnostic test to assess the nature of students’ alternative conceptions, Res. Sci. Educ., 40 (3), 313–337.

[29] Sreenivasulu, B., and Subramaniam, R., 2014, Exploring undergraduates’ understanding of transition metals chemistry with the use of cognitive and confidence measures, Res. Sci. Educ., 44 (6), 801–828.

[30] Cakmakci, G., and Aydogdu, C., 2011, Designing and evaluating an evidence-informed instruction in chemical kinetics, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 12 (1), 15–28.

[31] Yan, Y.K., and Subramaniam, R., 2016, Diagnostic appraisal of grade 12 students’ understanding of reaction kinetics, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 17 (4), 1114–1126.

[32] Kolomuç, A., and Tekin, S., 2011, Chemistry teachers’ misconception concerning concept of chemical reaction rate, Eurasian J. Phys. Chem. Educ., 3 (2), 84–101.

[33] Lundeberg, M.A., Lundeberg, M.A., Fox, P.W., Brown, A.C., and Elbedour, S., 2000, Cultural influences on confidence: Country and gender, J. Educ. Psychol., 92 (1), 152–159.

[34] Bain, K., Rodriguez, J.M.G., and Towns, M.H., 2018, Zero-order chemical kinetics as a context to investigate student understanding of catalysts and half-life, J. Chem. Educ., 95 (5), 716–725.

[35] Stankov, L., and Crawford, J.D., 1997, Self-confidence and performance on tests of cognitive abilities, Intelligence, 25 (2), 93–109.

[36] Cakmakci, G., 2010, Identifying alternative conceptions of chemical kinetics among secondary school and undergraduate students in Turkey, J. Chem. Educ., 87 (4), 449–455.

[37] Hackling, M.W., and Garnett, P.J., 1985, Misconceptions of chemical equilibrium, Eur. J. Sci. Educ., 7 (2), 205–214.

[38] Bilgin, I., and Geban, O., 2006, The effect of cooperative learning approach based on conceptual change condition on students’ understanding of chemical equilibrium concepts, J. Sci. Educ. Technol., 15 (1), 31–46.

[39] Cakmakci, G., Leach, J., and Donnelly, J., 2006, Students’ ideas about reaction rate and its relationship with concentration or pressure, Int. J. Sci. Educ., 28 (15), 1795–1815.

[40] Turányi, T., and Tóth, Z., 2013, Hungarian university students’ misunderstandings in thermodynamics and chemical kinetics, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 14 (1), 105–116.

[41] Yalçınkaya, E., Taştan-Kırık, Ö., Boz, Y., and Yıldıran, D., 2012, Is case-based learning an effective teaching strategy to challenge students’ alternative conceptions regarding chemical kinetics?, Res. Sci. Technol. Educ., 30 (2), 151–172.

[42] Kingir, S., and Geban, O., 2012, Effect of conceptual change approach on students’ understanding of reaction rate concepts, Hacettepe Univ. J. Educ., 43, 306–317.

[43] Van Driel, J.H., 2002, Students’ corpuscular conceptions in the context of chemical equilibrium and chemical kinetics, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 3 (2), 201–213.

[44] Kousathana, M., and Tsaparlis, G., 2002, Students’ errors in solving numerical chemical equilibrium problems, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 3 (1), 5–17.

[45] Holme, T., Luxford, C., and Murphy, K., 2015, Updating the general chemistry anchoring concepts content map, J. Chem. Educ., 92 (6), 1115–1116.

[46] Bektasli, B., and Cakmakci, G., 2011, Consistency of students’ ideas about the concept of rate across different contexts, Educ. Sci., 36 (162), 273–287.

[47] Suruchi, S., and Rana, S.S., 2014, Test item analysis and relationship between difficulty level and discrimination index of test items in an achievement test in biology, PIJR, 3 (6), 56–58.

[48] DiBattista, D., and Kurzawa, L., 2011, Examination of the quality of multiple-choice items on classroom tests, CJSoTL, 2 (2), 4.

[49] Airasian, P.W., 1994, Classroom Assessment, Eds., Arkers, L., and Rosenberg, E., Mcgraw-Hill, Singapore.

[50] Kimberlin, C.L., and Winterstein, A.G., 2008, Validity and reliability of measurement instruments used in research, Am. J. Health Syst. Pharm., 65 (23), 2276–2284.


Article Metrics

Abstract views : 10311 | views : 5565 | views : 2422

Copyright (c) 2019 Indonesian Journal of Chemistry

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Indonesian Journal of Chemistry (ISSN 1411-9420 /e-ISSN 2460-1578) - Chemistry Department, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia.

Analytics View The Statistics of Indones. J. Chem.