Academic success in context-based chemistry : Demonstrating fluid transitions between concepts and context

King, Donna T. & Ritchie, Stephen M. (2013) Academic success in context-based chemistry : Demonstrating fluid transitions between concepts and context. International Journal of Science Education, 35(7), pp. 1159-1182.

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Curriculum developers and researchers have promoted context-based programmes to arrest waning student interest and participation in the enabling sciences at high school and university. Context-based programmes aim for student connections between scientific discourse and real-world contexts to elevate curricular relevance without diminishing conceptual understanding. This interpretive study explored the learning transactions in one 11th grade context-based chemistry classroom where the context was the local creek. The dialectic of agency/structure was used as a lens to examine how the practices in classroom interactions afforded students the agency for learning. The results suggest that first, fluid transitions were evident in the student–student interactions involving successful students; and second, fluid transitions linking concepts to context were evident in the students’ successful reports.

The study reveals that the structures of writing and collaborating in groups enabled students’ agential and fluent movement between the field of the real-world creek and the field of the formal chemistry classroom. Furthermore, characteristics of academically successful students in context-based chemistry are highlighted. Research, teaching, and future directions for context-based science teaching are discussed.

Impact and interest:

9 citations in Scopus
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8 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 60653
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: context-based, sociocultural, dialectics, chemistry, science education
DOI: 10.1080/09500693.2013.774508
ISSN: 1464-5289
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Curriculum
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Copyright Statement: This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in International Journal of Science Education, 35(7), 2013 [copyright Taylor & Francis], available online at:
Deposited On: 06 Jun 2013 05:35
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2014 17:16

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