Evaluation of Cognitive Complexity of Tasks for the Topic Hydrogen Exponent in the Solutions of Acids and Bases

  • Saša Horvat University of Novi Sad Faculty of sciences Department of chemistry, biochemistry and environmental protection
  • Dušica D. Rodić University of Novi Sad Faculty of sciences Department of chemistry, biochemistry and environmental protection
  • Mirjana D. Segedinac University of Novi Sad Faculty of sciences Department of chemistry, biochemistry and environmental protection
  • Tamara N. Rončević University of Novi Sad Faculty of sciences Department of chemistry, biochemistry and environmental protection


The aim of this study was evaluation of cognitive complexity of tasks for the topic hydrogen exponent in the solutions of acids and bases and its validation. The created procedure included an assessment of the difficulty of concepts and an assessment of their interactivity. There were 48 freshmen students enrolled in the study program Basic academic studies in chemistry. As a research instrument for assessing performance, test of knowledge was specifically constructed for this research. Each task in the test was followed by a seven-point Likert scale for the evaluation of invested mental effort. The evaluation of cognitive complexity was confirmed by a series of linear regression analysis where high values of correlation coefficients are obtained among the examined variables: student’s performance and invested mental effort (dependent variables) and cognitive complexity (independent variable).


Alvarado, C., Cañada, F., Garritz, A. & Mellado, V. (2015). Canonical Pedagogical Content Knowledge by CoRes for Teaching Acid-Base Chemistry at High School. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 16, 603-618.

Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., Cocking, R. R., eds. (1999). How expertsdiffer from novices in How People Learn. National Academy Press, Washington D. C., 19-38.

Bieri J. (1955). Cognitive complexity-simplicity and predictive behavior. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 51, 263-268.

Cooper, M., M., Hovig, K., Underwood, S., M. (2016). Investigating Students’ Reasoning about Acid−Base Reactions. Journal Chemical Education, 93, 1703−1712.

Chetan, T., Goudar, A. & Nanny, A. (2005). A matlabToolbox for Solving Acid-Base Chemistry Problems in Environmental Engineering Applications. Computer Applications in Engineering Education, 13(4), 257 – 265.

Curtright R., Emry R., Heaton R. M. & Markwell J., (2004). Facilitating student understanding of buffering by an integration of mathematics and chemical concepts, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 32, 71-77.

Evans, J. D. (1996). Straightforward statistics for the behavioral sciences. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Halford, G. S., Wilson, W. H. & Phillips, S. (1998). Processing capacity defined by relational complexity: implications for comparative, developmental and cognitive psychology. Behavional & Brain Sciences, 21, 803-831.

Harris, J. Wiggins, M., Morrison, B. & and Morrison, N. (2013). Differentiating Cognitive Complexity and Cognitive Load in High and Low Demand Flight Simulation Tasks In: Wyeld, T. Calder, P. & Shen, H. (Eds.) Computer-Human Interaction Cognitive Effects of Spatial Interaction, Learning, and Ability, 133–152.

Horvat S., Segedinac D. M., Milenković D. D. & Hrin N.T. (2016). Development of procedure for the assessment of cognitive complexity of stoichiometric tasks. Macedonian Journal of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, 35, 275-284.

Johnstone, A. H. & El-Banna, H. (1989). Understanding learning difficulties a predictive research model. Studies in Higher Education, 14, 159-167.

Knaus, K., Murphy, K., Blecking, A. & Holme, T. (2011). A valid and reliable instrument for cognitive complexity rating assingment of chemistry exam item. Journal of Chemical Education, 88, 554-560.

Kalyga, S. (2009). Managing cognitive load in adaptive multimedia learning. Information Science Reference, New York.

Kelly G.A. (1955). The Psychology of Personal Construct. A theory of personality. New York: Taylor & Francis Group.

Loewenthal, K. M. (2004). An introduction to psychological tests and scales (2 ed). Hove, UK: Psychology Press.

Magone E. M., Cai J., Silver A. E. & Wang N. (1994). Validating the cognitive complexity and content quality of a mathematics performance assessment. International Journal of Educational Research, 21(3), 317-340.

Markić, S. & Childs, P.E (2016). Language and the teaching and learning of chemistry. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 17, 434-438.

Moss, S., Prosser H., Costello H., Simpson N., Patel P., Rowe S., Tuner & Hatton C., (1998). Reliability and validity of the PAS-ADD checklist for detecting psychiatric disorders in adults with intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 42, 173-183.

Niaz, M. (1996). Reasoning strategies of students in solving chemistry problems as a function of developmental level, functional M-capacity and disembedding ability. International Journal of Sciece Education, 18(5), 525-541.

Ouertatani, L., Dumonj, A., Trabel, M., A. (2007). SIand Mohamed Soudani. Acids and Bases: The appropriation of the Arrhenius model by tunisian grade 10 students. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 5, 483-506.

Pass, F. (1992). Training strategies for attarning transfer of problem solving skill in statistics: A cognitive load approach. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84(4), 429-434.

Paas, F. & van Merriënboer, J. J. G. (1993). The efficiency of instructional conditions: An approach to combine mental effort and performance measures. Human Factors, 35, 737 – 743.

Pass, F. & van Merrienboer, J. J. G. (1994). Variability of worked examples and transfer of geometrical problem solving skills: A cognitive load approach. Journal of Educational psycology, 86(1), 122-133.

Raker, J. R., Trate, J. M., Holme, T. A. & Murphy, K. (2013). Adaptation of an Instrument for Measuring the Cognitive Complexity of Organic Chemistry Exam Items. Journal of Chemical Education, 90, 1290–1295.

Sweller J. (1988), Cognitive Load During Problem Solving: Effects on Learning. Cognitive Science, 12, 257-258.

Sørensen, S. P. L. (1909). Enzymstudien. II. Mitteilung. Über die Messung und die Bedeutung der Wasserstoffionenkoncentration bei enzymatischen. Prozessen. Biochemische Zeitschrift, 21, 131–304, and 22, 352–356.

Towns, M. H. (2014). Guide To Developing High-Quality, Reliable, and Valid Multiple-Choice Assessments. Journal of Chemical Education, 91, 1426−1431.

Tümay, H. (2016). Emergence, Learning Difficulties, and Misconceptions in Chemistry Undergraduate Students’ Conceptualizations of Acid Strength. Science & Education, 25(1–2), 21–46.

Watters, D. J. & Watters, J. J. (2006). Student Understanding of pH. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 34(4), 278–284.

Wood, R. E. (1986). Task Complexity: Definition of the Construct. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 37, 60-72.

Xin, Z., & Chi, L. (2007). Indexes of cognitive complexity and their relationship Psychological Science, 30, 919–923.
How to Cite
Horvat, S., Rodić, D., Segedinac, M., & Rončević, T. (2018). Evaluation of Cognitive Complexity of Tasks for the Topic Hydrogen Exponent in the Solutions of Acids and Bases. Journal of Subject Didactics, 2(1), 33-45. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1238972