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Chemistry education research


Chemistry Education Research approaches the teaching of chemistry as a scientific problem. One of the major concerns in the chemistry community internationally has been the decline in the status of chemistry as an "enabling science" [1, 2, 3]. This deterioration has taken many forms, but the one that is most relevant to the teaching of chemistry in North American, European, UK and Australian universities is the decline in staff/student ratios and correlated funding. Although this problem has many facets, clearly two of the challenges are to teach chemistry in a comprehensible manner, as well as to attract and retain chemistry undergraduates.

Typical attitudes and approaches of students towards chemistry indicate that there is a need for change. Dedicated faculty who would like to attempt to address these concerns, however, usually do not have time to spend reading research articles on chemistry education. Often chemical education research is viewed as not being very "user-friendly", with the outcomes of that research appearing to have little immediate practical application to the classroom. The articles [4, 5] by Johnstone and de Jong offer insightful commentary on these issues.

These webpages are meant to help overcome this problem, and guide those who may be interested in the application of the results of Chemistry Education Research to the teaching of their undergraduate courses. The following material has been been organized around those issues that are relevant to various aspects of course design. The associated research papers, written in the language of the discipline, have been cited and chosen for their immediate accessibility. Discussions of many of the fundamental concerns in chemistry education research are given by Johnstone [6] and Gabel [7]; the essays by Stanitski [8] and Schwartz [9] give reviews of recent reforms. The review paper by Bailey et al. [10] gives a good overview of the field, and the article by Herron et al. [11] gives a perspective on the integration of the chemistry and education disciplines.

General References to the Theory and Practice of Chemical Education, Status and Reform:

  1. Chemical education research: where from here?, A. H. Johnstone, J. Chem. Ed. 4 (1), April 2000. Proceedings from Variety in Chemistry Teaching meeting, September 1999, organised by the Tertiary Education Group of the Royal Society of Chemistry in conjunction with the Education Research Group. Available here.
  2. Raising the Status of Chemistry Education , William S. Price and John O. Hill, U. Chem. Ed. 8 (1) 2004. Available here.
  3. Does Chemistry have a future?,Stephen W. Breuer, U. Chem. Ed. 6 (1), 2002. Available here.
  4. Chemistry Teaching--Science or Alchemy? 1996 Brasted Lecture , A. H. Johnstone, J. Chem. Ed. 74 (3), March 1997. Available here.
  5. Crossing the borders: chemical education research and teaching practice, Onno de Jong, J. Chem. Ed. 4 (1), April 2000. Available here.
  6. '...And some fell on good ground' , A. H. Johnstone, U. Chem. Ed. 1, September 1997. Available here.
  7. Improving Teaching and Learning through Chemistry Education Research: A Look to the Future , Dorothy Gabel, J. Chem. Ed. 76 (4), 548, April 1999. Available here.
  8. Chemical education: theory and practice, Patrick D. Bailey and John Garratt, U. Chem. Ed. 6 (2) 2002. Available here.
  9. Chemistry Education Reform in the 1990s , Conrad Stanitski, University of Central Arkansas. "Originally submitted for PKAL's 10th Anniversary Celebration in 1999, this brief review documents how chemistry evolved in the 1990's." (from the website). Available here.
  10. The Kinetics of Innovation in Chemistry Education: An Investigation of Catalysis and Inhibition, A. Truman Schwartz, Macalester College. "An update to Dr. Stanitski's history that examines more recent efforts in chemistry education reform." (from the website). Available here.
  11. Chemical Education Research: Improving Chemistry Learning (Viewpoints: Chemists on Chemistry) , J.D. Herron, S. Nurrenbern, J. Chem. Ed. 76 (10) 1999. Available here.