Lifelong Learning Programme

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Motivating Students to Study Chemistry: Some Irish Initiatives

Marie Walsh

Limerick Institute of Technology (Republic of Ireland)

Marie.Walsh@lit.ie

Abstract

In recent years, several initiatives have been taken to motivate more students to study Science in general and Chemistry in particular. Industrial and governmental bodies have spoken repeatedly about the need for skill-building in the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, including Chemistry, that are seen as vital in underpinning the Knowledge Economy and aiding Ireland’s recovery from economic downturn.

Uptake of Chemistry as a subject for the terminal examination at second level in Ireland, the Leaving Certificate, has seen a slight increase to over fourteen per cent. However, this turnaround could be difficult to maintain due to a number of factors, not least the fiscal situation and its effect on school budgets for more expensive practical subjects, as well as allocation of subjects to students within timetabling constraints and choice by students of the science and technology subjects. The latter is further influenced by attitudes to, experiences of and perceived usefulness of Chemistry, both by students and their guardians. Teachers and school facilities have a central role to play in student motivation. A proposed new curriculum for second level Chemistry, with a more emphatic requirement for practical work, is currently in the post-consultation phase, and a new Chief Examiner for Chemistry at upper secondary level has recently been appointed.

This paper will present a review of the current status in Ireland for motivating more students to study Chemistry, and more teachers to keep apace of the changes in Chemical Education and Information and Communication Technologies which have become best practice internationally.

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National Reports on successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry The national reports on chemistry successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry are now available on the related section of the project portal. The reports presents examples of successful experiences in the partner countries and the results of testing of ICT resources with science teachers.

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