American Journal of Educational Research
ISSN (Print): 2327-6126 ISSN (Online): 2327-6150 Website: Editor-in-chief: Ratko Pavlović
Open Access
Journal Browser
American Journal of Educational Research. 2016, 4(7), 507-511
DOI: 10.12691/education-4-7-2
Open AccessArticle

Teaching Methods for Balancing Chemical Equations: An Inspection versus an Algebraic Approach

Nathan L. Charnock1,

1Hillsborough County Public Schools

Pub. Date: May 05, 2016

Cite this paper:
Nathan L. Charnock. Teaching Methods for Balancing Chemical Equations: An Inspection versus an Algebraic Approach. American Journal of Educational Research. 2016; 4(7):507-511. doi: 10.12691/education-4-7-2


In secondary chemistry education, there are two predominate teaching methods which are typically employed to convey a systematic method of chemical reaction balancing: by inspection or with a linear algebraic approach. The objective of this study was to determine the most effective method to teach the skill set needed to perform the task of chemical reaction balancing in the secondary education setting as measured by performance on a teacher-made summative assessment. The results clearly indicated that the algebraic approach to balancing both simple and advance chemical reactions typically encountered in the secondary chemistry classroom is superior to that of the inspection method. The algebraic method is not a new approach to employ in the systematic resolution of stoichiometric coefficients and the novelty of application makes it an attractive, effective, and efficient teaching and learning method in practice.

high school teachers general chemistry teaching methods stoichiometry/balancing equations

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Dalaklioğlu, S.; Demirci, N.; & Şekercioğlu, A. Eleventh Grade Students’ Difficulties and Misconceptions About Energy and Momentum Concepts. International Journal of New Trends in Education and Their Implications, 2015, 6; 13-21. 2015
[2]  Fach, M.; de Boer, T.; & Parchmann, I. Results of an Interview Study as Basis for the Development of Stepped Supporting Tools for Stoichiometric Problems. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 2006, 8; 13-31.
[3]  Özmen, H.; & Ayas, A. Students’ difficulties in understanding of the conservation of matter in open and closed-system chemical reactions. Chemistry Education: Research and Practice, 2003, 4(3); 279-290.
[4]  Abraham, M.; Williamson, V.; & Westbrook, S. A cross age study of the understanding of five chemistry concepts. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 1994, 31, 147-165.
[5]  Croeau, J.; Fox, W.; & Varazo, K. 2007. Mathematical Modeling of Chemical Stoichiometry. Problems and Issues in Mathematics Undergraduate Studies, 2007, 17; 301-315.
[6]  Herndon, W. On Balancing Chemical Equations: Past and Present. Journal of Chemical Education, 1997, 74; 1359-1365.
[7]  Porter, Spencer. How Should Equation Balancing Be Taught? Journal of Chemical Education, 1985, 62(6); 507-509.
[8]  Guo, C. A New and General Method for Balancing Chemical Equations by Inspections. Journal of Chemical Education, 1997, 74; 1365-1380.
[9]  Zoltán, T. Balancing Chemical Equations by Inspection. Journal of Chemical Education, 1997, 74(9): 1363.
[10]  Schmidt, H.; & Jignéus, C. Students’ Strategies in Solving Algorithmic Stoichiometry Problems. Chemistry Education: Research and Practice, 2003, 4(9); 305-317.
[11]  Artzt, A.; Armour-Thomas, E.; Curcio F; & Gurl, T. Becoming a Reflective Mathematics Teacher. New York: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates, 2008.
[12]  Bransford, J.; Brown, A.; & Cocking, R. eds. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. (Eds.). Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999.
[13]  Davidson, N. Cooperative Learning in Mathematics: A Handbook for Teachers. Eds. Menlo Park: Addison-Wesley, 1990.
[14]  Johnson, D.; & Johnson, R. Learning Together and Alone: Cooperation, Competition, and Individualization. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1975.
[15]  Shellard, E.; & Moyer, P. What Principals Need to Know About Teaching Math. Alexandria: National Association of Elementary School Principals and Education Research Service, 2002.
[16]  Baker, S.; Gersten, R; & Dae-Sik, L. A Synthesis of Empirical Research on Teaching Mathematics to Low-Achieving Students. The Elementary School Journal, 2002, 103, 51-73.
[17]  Baker, S.; Gersten, R.; Dimino, J.; & Griffiths, R. The Sustained Use of Research-Based Instructional Practice: A Case Study of Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies in Mathematics. Remedial and Special Education, 2004, 25, 5-24.
[18]  VanDerHeyden, A.; & Burns, M. Using Curriculum-Based Assessment and Curriculum-Based Measurement to Guide Elementary Mathematics Instruction: Effect on Individual and Group Accountability. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 2005, 30;15-31.
[19]  Niaz, M.; & Robinson, W. 1991. Teaching Algorithmic Problem Solving or Conceptual Understanding: Role of Developmental Level, Mental Capacity, and Cognitive Style, 1991, Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Lake Geneva.
[20]  Olson, J. An Analysis of the Algebraic Method for Balancing Chemical Reactions. Journal of Chemical Education, 1997, 74; 538-542.
[21]  Risteski, I. A New Approach to Balancing Chemical Equations, 2012; retrieved from: