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Svatava Janoušková, Václav Pumpr, Jan Maršák
Metodický portál rámcových vzdělávacích programů (
Web Article
3 – 10 pages
The article deals with the motivation of secondary schools students to chemistry. Chemistry is subject considered to be unpopular, unattractive, often only part of integrated subject such as “Basic Natural Sciences”.
It stars with the review of definition of basic terms such as motivation itself, inner and outer motivation, positive and negative outer stimuli. Authors ask the question – how shell I positively motivate students in classroom? Offered possibility is to solve “common life tasks”.
The offered tasks are exclusively of open character and are divided into eleven thematic sections: 1. Introduction to chemistry study, 2. Chemical substances and their mixtures, 3. Water and air, 4. Chemical elements, 5. Oxides, 6. Inorganic acids and hydroxides, 7. Salts of inorganic acids, 8. Hydrocarbons, 9. Hydrocarbon derivatives, 10. Natural substances, 11. Chemistry in life.
The tasks are in written in two versions – shorter (a couple of sentences) and extended (pseudo-dialogue with student). The solution of all tasks is also available.
The possibilities of application of tasks in classroom are following:
1. Less active classes
a) The lesson is started with a simple question, follows answer by teacher. It is known that the interest of students is increased after such question.
b) Start with a short discussion (max. 10 mins). Secondary school students like discussions and often have strong opinions. These answers often converge to real life explanation.

2. More active classes
a) Common finding of solution (more time space) – 5 mins for thinking about the problem followed by moderated discussion. Teacher directs students to the correct solution. Students positively reflect their own contribution to lesson.
b) Tasks used as evaluation tool – (i) give longer version of task as homework to one or two students. Teacher afterwards evaluates and corrects their solution; (ii) students can select the tasks according to their interest. They present the solution within special „report lesson“. The evaluation is done not only by teacher but also by three “student opponents”.

Conclusion: The presented method helps not only motivate students but also develop skills necessary for future professional and personal life such as ways of communication, presentation skills and formulation of comprehensive arguments.
The main topic of the article is to offer chemistry teachers at secondary schools an alternative method how to work with attractive and useful themes. It correctly states the importance of connection between chemistry and daily life. It doesn’t offer only method of using or teaching such topics but also gives the examples of particular tasks ordered in eleven thematic groups. Every task is presented in two levels which allow to be used in classes with different level of students’ knowledge/abilities. There are two major contributions of published document. (i) It stresses that the way how to turn attention of students to chemistry is the use of tasks and examples those they are familiar with from daily life, (ii) it provides particular tasks in two levels which can be directly used in classes. It also proves the known fact that students like to discuss and if they get feeling of active participation on the class they are more interested in discussed subject and the perception of knowledge is also increased. Some of the tasks are bound to Czech environment and therefore their use after potential translation is limited.
Institute of Chemical Technology Prague

Comments about this Publication

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2013.07.16

Posted by Marcela Grecová (Czech Republic)

Message: The article deals with motivating high school students to study chemistry. Definition of motivation is discussed in the introduction: internal and external motivation, positive (increasing confidence) and negative motivation (feeling of threat and frustration). The authors write about motivation from the perspective of students. According to the authors, chemistry is perceived as a secondary subject by many students, and so they do not pay enough attention.

The authors describe several thematic sections of chemistry that could be hard for the students to absorb. Several examples and experiments are provided for each section, offered in various timeframes and ability levels (and also including solutions to all problems posed), so that they can be readily used in classes and (possibly all) students will be interested. I would like to highlight this individual approach.

This is a very useful contribution in my opinion. There are many useful examples that can be directly applied in practice. I did read it all with great interest. I find the topics and examples inspiring and motivating (not only for students, but also for chemistry teachers).

Date: 2012.10.03

Posted by Silvana Saiello (Italy)

Message: The paper is particularly relevant than others. Chemistry is the main topic and working methods to be used in the classroom to engage students are presented to improve students' motivation to learn It starts from the definition of motivation, by analyzing the internal motivation and external stimuli external positive and negative. Then, the authors pose the question - how can I motivate students in the classroom? One possible answer is to propose problems of daily life.
The suggested activities are grouped into eleven thematic sections: 1. Introduction to the study of chemistry, 2. Chemicals and mixtures thereof, 3. Water and air, 4. Chemical elements, 5. Oxides, 6. Inorganic acids and hydroxides, 7. Salts of inorganic acids, 8. Hydrocarbons, 9. Derivatives of hydrocarbons, 10. Natural substances 11. Chemistry in life.
There are two important contributions of this paper.
1. It points out that the way to turn students' attention to chemistry is the use of tasks and examples that are familiar with from everyday life
2. It provides specific tasks that can be used directly in the classroom in two levels. It also demonstrates the known fact that students prefer to discuss and, if they are encouraged to participate actively in the work of the class, their interest and their perception of knowledge increases
The causes are almost always the same, Chemistry is considered to be unpopular, unattractive, and unimportant also because only few hours are provided for this discipline and often it is only part of integrated subject such as “Basic Natural Sciences” .
The distinction between internal and external motivation presented in this article allows the reader to identify general causes of lack of motivation of the students in different contexts.
The main purpose of this article is to provide chemistry teachers in secondary schools an alternate method of work. It rightly affirms the importance of the connection between chemistry and everyday life. It offers not only method to use or teach these subjects, but also provides examples of specific tasks. Each task is presented in two levels that allow it to be used in classes with different levels of students' knowledge / skills. Although some activities are closely related to the Czechoslovak situation and therefore their use even after the translation may be limited.

Date: 2012.10.01

Posted by KRASIMIRA TOMEVA (Bulgaria)

Message: The paper focuses exclusively on secondary school students’ motivation to study chemistry.
It explores ideas for enhancing motivation with the use of common life tasks.
It explains the meaning of motivation and defines it as “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” without mentioning the reasons for its lack.
The publication focuses on the ideas and solutions to motivating students rather than on the obstacles in addressing chemistry.
It reports successful experiences which can be transferred to school curriculum. It also offers ideas of relating chemistry knowledge to everyday life, as a way to increase students’ motivation. It provides teaching approaches, a variety of tasks and solutions.
A great deal of the students find chemistry content difficult and do not see the use of chemistry knowledge. Classes include students of different interests and level of motivation. So, the experience reported in the publication can be very useful in such environment.
The publication does not discuss difficulties that teachers encounter. It only provides ideas and teaching approaches to both less and more actively participating students. The real-life tasks it offers increase students’ interest which leads to a greater motivation and participation.
The approach that the publication offers is really effective as it provides practical tasks suitable for students of different level of activity and motivation.
The good practices of motivation and encouragement of active learning among students make the resource very useful. The classification of tasks allows convenience and successful teaching. The tasks, divided into eleven thematic groups, are of open character. They have two versions, concise and extended, which can be used both in class and as a homework assignment. The solutions of the tasks are also available.
The resource offers methods for teaching more or less active students, sequence of activities and task solutions. It describes teacher’s approaches to motivating and stimulating students, too. It not only helps to enhance the interest in chemistry, but also contributes to developing communication skills, applying knowledge and formulating arguments.
The enhanced motivation and interest in chemistry leads to increased participation of students in class activities.
Yes, the resource proposes an innovative approach using differentiated method of teaching dependent on students’ persistence and interest.

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.