New perspectives on context-based chemistry education : using a dialectical sociocultural approach to view teaching and learning

King, Donna T. (2012) New perspectives on context-based chemistry education : using a dialectical sociocultural approach to view teaching and learning. Studies in Science Education, 48(1), pp. 51-87.

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Context-based chemistry education aims to improve student interest and motivation in chemistry by connecting canonical chemistry concepts with real-world contexts. Implementation of context-based chemistry programmes began 20 years ago in an attempt to make the learning of chemistry meaningful for students. This paper reviews such programmes through empirical studies on six international courses, ChemCom (USA), Salters (UK), Industrial Science (Israel), Chemie im Kontext (Germany), Chemistry in Practice (The Netherlands) and PLON (The Netherlands). These studies are categorised through emergent characteristics of: relevance, interest/attitudes motivation and deeper understanding. These characteristics can be found to an extent in a number of other curricular initiatives, such as science-technology-society approaches and problem-based learning or project based science, the latter of which often incorporates an inquiry-based approach to science education. These initiatives in science education are also considered with a focus on the characteristics of these approaches that are emphasised in context-based education. While such curricular studies provide a starting point for discussing context-based approaches in chemistry, to advance our understanding of how students connect canonical science concepts with the real-world context, a new theoretical framework is required. A dialectical sociocultural framework originating in the work of Vygotsky is used as a referent for analysing the complex human interactions that occur in context-based classrooms, providing teachers with recent information about the pedagogical structures and resources that afford students the agency to learn.

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19 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 48956
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: context-based, chemistry education, dialectics, sociocultural, structure \ agency, agency \ passivity, HERN
DOI: 10.1080/03057267.2012.655037
ISSN: 1940-8412
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Science Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy (130212)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Teacher Education & Leadership
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Routledge (Taylor & Francis)
Copyright Statement: This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in the [Studies in Science Education] © [2012] [copyright Taylor & Francis]; [Studies in Science Education] is available online at:
Deposited On: 04 Mar 2012 22:24
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2013 05:18

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