Chemistry Education for Citizenship and Sustainability

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Chemistry Education for Citizenship and Sustainability

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Publication Conference Poster
Title Chemistry Education for Citizenship and Sustainability
Author(s) Sjöström, Jesper
Date 2013
English abstract
Chemistry is considered abstract, difficult and unpopular by many students. One reason is that traditional school chemistry is weakly connected to everyday life, technology, society, chemical research, and history and philosophy of science (Van Berkel, 2005). Chemistry education research has shown that if chemistry is placed in relevant everyday-life contexts, more students appreciate it (Eilks & Hofstein, 2013). What does it mean to teach chemistry for citizenship and sustainability, or in other words, what characterizes ESD-driven chemistry education? It includes not only content knowledge in chemistry, but also knowledge about chemistry, both about the nature of chemistry and about its role in society (Sjöström, 2011). Some important aspects are the synthesizing (and therefore technological) nature of chemistry and its ethical and environmental consequences (Sjöström, 2007). The public needs to be literate both in and about chemistry to be able to be actively involved in product choices and democratic processes. Mahaffy (2004) has suggested a tetrahedron model based on Johnstone’s (1991) chemical triangle. The latter represents the formal aspects of chemistry teaching (macro, submicro, and symbolic) and the top of the tetrahedron represents a human element. I have suggested the following subdivision of the top (starting from the bottom): (1) applied chemistry, (2) socio-cultural context, and (3) critical-philosophic approach (Sjöström, 2011). Especially the latter approach is important for understanding uncertainties, and balancing benefits and risks of chemistry and its applications. In the poster I will present and relate some examples of my research in progress to the general perspective on chemistry education, i.e. chemistry education for citizenship and sustainability. In one study we analyses thematic and contextualised chemistry videos, aimed for use in chemistry classrooms. Another study concerns the science informed argumentation of teacher students when choosing between different products, where the products have important differences regarding health and environmental aspects. Product choices are suggested to be used in ESD-driven chemistry education as authentic and everyday life socio-scientific issues. A third study is about “chemicals education”, which includes understanding the term “chemical”, natural vs. synthetic substances, doses, learning about “the chemical society” and appropriate teaching methods, such as use of authentic media and cooperative learning. References: Eilks, I. & Hofstein, A. (Eds.) (2013) Teaching Chemistry – A Studybook, Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Johnstone, A. H. (1991) “Why is science difficult to learn? Things are seldom what they seem” Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 7, 75-83. Mahaffy, P. (2004) “The Future Shape of Chemistry Education” Chemistry Education: Research and Practice, 5(3), 229-245. Sjöström, J. (2007) “The Discourse of Chemistry (and Beyond)” HYLE – International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, 13(2), 83-97. Sjöström, J. (2011) “Towards Bildung-oriented chemistry education” Science & Education, online first, doi 10.1007/s11191-011-9401-0 Van Berkel, B. (2005) The structure of current school chemistry. A quest for conditions for escape, PhD Thesis, Utrech University.
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::NATURAL SCIENCES
Note Gordon Research Conference : Chemistry Education Research and Practice : Strengthening the Pillars of Scholarly Work in Chemistry Education, Newport, Rhode Island, USA, June 9-15, 2013
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