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What Constitutes a Successful Experience in Teaching Chemistry? Characteristic Examples from the Greek Educational Context

Katerina Salta, Dionysios Koulougliotis

Technological Educational Institute (TEI) of Ionian Islands
Zakynthos, Greece

ksalta@chem.uoa.gr, dkoul@teiion.gr

Abstract

In the first part of this work, a brief literature review is made on the issue of what is meant by “successful teaching experience”. Research has provided evidence for specific components that influence “success” namely beliefs for self-efficacy, feedback, possibility for student self-regulation and active participation, possibility for inquiry, collaboration, differentiation in ways of students’ learning. Subsequently, in the second part of this work a set of five examples of successful chemistry teaching experiences is briefly presented and critically analyzed. In all cases, the “success” of the presented teaching strategies is justified via educational research. Among the selected successful chemistry teaching experiences, one refers to primary school (use of particulate nature of matter for teaching phase changes), one refers to lower secondary school (use of different types of 3D visualizations for teaching mixtures’ separation methods), two refer to upper secondary school (parallel use of laboratory experiment and ICT for teaching physicochemical properties of fatty acids, minimizing working memory load for teaching atomic and bonding theory) and one refers to teaching at university (blended learning -hybrid instructional model for teaching molecular symmetry and group theory). The Greek examples provide evidence for the need of concurrent use of a carefully selected variety of teaching strategies, techniques and materials in order to readily enhance the effectiveness of chemistry (and science) teaching.

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Comments about this Paper

Your comments are welcome


Date: 2014.04.06

Posted by Elif Tuğçe KARACA (Turkey)

Message: The paper consists of two sections.In the first part of the paper what is successful experience is discussed. Comparing to the other articles about successful experiences,this one has a different perspective about the deep meanings of successful experience term. Some theoritical links are given like the relationship between self efficacy and successful experience. It seems that high self efficacy results with more successful experiences in chemistry classes. In the second part of the paper consist different successful experience happened in Greece.Researches from primary level to secondary students level are given and discussed according to successful teaching experiences. It seems that ICT becomes more imortant in Greece in chemistry classes. Like other papers,technology integration is mentioned and some beneficial researches are conducted in Greece especially about 3d animation using. As a result,the paper gives us information about terminological cases about successful experiences and also some practices done in this topic.

Date: 2014.04.03

Posted by Mária Fabianová (Slovakia)

Message: Paper describe five successful experiences for the teaching of chemistry in Greece. The brief descriptions of this five experiences mention characteristics of teaching methods that should stimulate teachers to upgrade. Great attention is given to the use of ICTs in the teaching of chemistry.This experiences address the development of visuospatial thinking capabilities of chemistry students and examine attempts at integrating educational technology into teaching and learning of chemistry.Five experiences are:
- undergraduate course in molecular symmetry and group theory which combined face-to-face instruction with an online web-enhanced learning environment
- developing multimedia learning environments where various combinations of 3D visualizations accompanied by narration and text was applied to the specific topic of separation of mixtures
- using software simulation to assist students’ understanding of melting and evaporation below boiling point.
- using a microcomputer based laboratory system in an experiment examining the relationship of molecular weight of fatty acids to their freezing point, which enhanced learning outcomes and increased enjoyment of the experiment.
- making chemistry more accessible to all students involved developing a new instructional model for teaching atomic and molecular theory. It aimed to present the material in a more stepwise manner, and used illustrations, diagrams, dialogue boxes and so on to explain the concepts. The paper is relevant from the point of view of the project.

Date: 2014.03.31

Posted by Nadia Zamboni (Italy)

Message: In the first part of the work the authors make a review on the meaning of ‘successful teaching experience’ and in the second one they describe some examples of successful teaching experiences at different school levels, from the Primary school to the University.
In this paper the authors present the meaning of a ‘successful teaching experience’. According to the ‘self efficacy theory’ a successful experience provides a sense of being able to cope in stressful situation. This self-efficacy can be fostered through observing success, experiencing success, positive emotional tone, but also personal and environmental factors influence the formations of self-efficacy beliefs.
In all cases students with relative high self-efficacy have better performance in chemistry.
Students learn science in a variety of ways, so, to gain important goals in students’ learning , teachers must use different strategies, concurrently; for example they can use:
- Instructional technologic strategies to enhance context of learning
- Well-designed laboratory experiences, including inquiry and manipulations strategies
However, every kind of teaching strategies needs evaluation in order to be characterized as a successful experience.
Research has shown that rote-learning, in which students are mostly passive and employ traditional “D static illustrations, poses large difficulties in students’ comprehension of chemical concepts.
A research project, lasted 3 years, at different levels of school, confirmed that an hybrid combination of traditional ‘face to face’ instruction and an online-web learning environment can improve the quantity and the quality of students’ involvement and learning process.
This hybrid instructional model gives students the possibility for self-regulation, i.e. they seem to take responsibility for their own learning.
Briefly this experiences confirmed that the combination of multimedia application, with 3D interactive animations and visualizations, accompanied with narration and text contribute, improve the effectiveness of every teaching/learning process
I consider this publication useful to understand the importance of interactive online resources and teacher’s way to develop activity in the class, at the same time. Besides, this paper confirmes teachers’ work is a complex achievement that must be well-designed and planned carefully step by step, according to the answer of the classes, mainly when you try to use a combination of innovative and traditional tools.

Date: 2014.03.10

Posted by Alberto Regis (Italy)

Message: The publication lists five successful experiences for the teaching of chemistry in Greece. These were carried out in primary school, secondary school, first and second grade and college. It is significant that the article highlights which factors should be taken into account to determine if an experience can be considered a successful experiences.
It is specified that, in all the considered cases, the success of the teaching strategies is justified by the research in education. According to the authors, the examples give evidence of the need to select and simultaneously make use of multiple instructional strategies, techniques and materials in order to improve the effectiveness of chemistry (science) teaching. The brief descriptions of the five experiences mention characteristics of teaching methods that should stimulate teachers to upgrade. Great attention is given to the use of ICTs in the teaching of chemistry.
But the great importance given to the study of the variables introduced by the educational multimedia tools seems to generate some ambiguity. For example, there is confusion between teaching strategy and technology tools. The use of a multimedia tool can improve the quality of a representation of the reality and then promote the proper use of an interpretative model (for example, the particle model); but a multimedia tool can not make you see what is not perceptible by the senses, that is, it can not make you see the particles.

Date: 2014.03.10

Posted by Iwona Krawczyk (Poland)

Message: The first part of the document can be treated as a set of links to related works, which enable to aswer a question what a successful teaching experience is. The answer is very important in the context of the current phase of Chemistry is All Around Network Project. Authors try to summarize conclusions from the related documents, so it is easy to get all of them in concise and easy to understand form. In the second part they present several successful experiences in Greek chemistry classrooms. First, they focus on a role of visuospatial thinking in order to fully understand several fundamental chemistry topics. The “Molecular symmetry and Group Theory” undergraduate chemistry course seem very interesting example of modern methods of teaching, which (among others) demonstrates successful teaching strategy called “hybrid instructional model”. Next, the authors consider the role of multimedia learning in several aspects. The special attention is paid to ICT solutions. In the last part of the document the authors cite a document which contains very relevant comparison between "traditional" and "modern" teaching, with credible valuations. In the conclusions it is noted that the results reached and the proposals made in relation with curriculum re-design and adoption of new teaching strategies could be applied to other countries as well. The paper is relevant from the point of view of the project. Both teachers and researchers can find it helpful in their tasks.

Date: 2014.02.26

Posted by Kathleen Lough (Ireland)

Message: This paper initially attempts by means of a literature review to define what a successful experience of teaching chemistry might be, with teacher belief in self-efficacy, recognition and acceptance of diversity in students’ learning styles, opportunities for active participation in learning and provision of feedback all noted as components of success. The necessity of evaluation of any proposed teaching strategy is also stressed.
A useful summary is then given of five initiatives in the teaching of chemistry in Greece, spanning a variety of ages/levels, from primary to university level. The initiatives address the development of visuospatial thinking capabilities of chemistry students and examine attempts at integrating educational technology into teaching and learning of chemistry. One initiative relates to an undergraduate course in molecular symmetry and group theory which combined face-to-face instruction with an online web-enhanced learning environment, with the added flexibility increasing student motivation and allowing self-paced learning. Another initiative relevant for teachers developing multimedia learning environments is cited, where various combinations of 3D visualizations (interactive animation, animation and static illustration) accompanied by narration and text was applied to the specific topic of separation of mixtures. An initiative trialled in primary school examined the benefits of using software simulation to assist students’ understanding of melting and evaporation below boiling point. Another involved using a microcomputer based laboratory system in an experiment examining the relationship of molecular weight of fatty acids to their freezing point, which enhanced learning outcomes and increased enjoyment of the experiment. An initiative aimed at making chemistry more accessible to all students involved developing a new instructional model for teaching atomic and molecular theory. It aimed to present the material in a more stepwise manner, and used illustrations, diagrams, dialogue boxes and so on to explain the concepts. Student interaction was facilitated through use of questions and simple calculations and the project involved group work.
All of the initiatives described provide models that could be used in an international context.

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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