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Students’ Motivation to Learn Chemistry: The Greek Case

Katerina Salta, Dionysios Koulougliotis

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

[email protected], [email protected]


Students’ motivation to learn chemistry and science in general is a complex construct that it can be conceptualized and assessed in at least five different dimensions. Research shows that motivation interacts closely with cognition and subsequently influences science learning and the level of scientific literacy. In this work, we make an attempt to identify factors that could positively influence students’ motivation to learn chemistry by focusing on research findings that are relevant to the Greek student population. Our analysis of the existing literature shows that these factors could be organized into three main categories: teaching approaches, educational tools, and non-formal educational material and activities. In addition, recent studies related to probing Greek students’ attitudes toward chemistry, indicate a low level of student motivation to engage in chemistry learning, a fact which could be related to the following issues: difficulty of the chemistry course, demanding curriculum in combination with little allocated teaching time, use of unattractive teaching methods, and lack of career opportunities. More in depth research is needed in order to directly assess students’ motivation to learn chemistry and quantify the relative importance as well as interrelation of the influencing factors proposed in this work.

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Comments about this Paper

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2014.04.10

Posted by Abdıllahı Hassan (Turkey)

Message: Thıs paper generally explains how to increase the motivation of students towards learning of chemistry.
In my opinion ,if it is applied as it is, it will constructively increase the motivation of students and hence it will minimize the misconceptions towards the context of chemistry.

Date: 2012.12.13

Posted by Antonio J. Torres Gil (España)

Message: This document presents a common problem in most of the European countries: a neutral
attitude towards the interest of the Chemistry course and a negative attitude regarding the
usefulness of the chemistry course for their future career. These facts show a low motivation
to learn Chemistry due to the usage of unattractive teaching methods, not enough time to
teach this subject and its difficulty. I see a lot of similar aspects to those in our country which
give an idea of a global problem.

I would like to remark that in this paper authors propose three ways to motivate students:
First of all, changing the teaching approaches, increasing the laboratory instruction. Like some
studies show us, experimental work increases students´ interest toward Chemistry and it
connects science and daily life. Another way to increase our students´ motivation is the usage
of ICT resources in our classrooms. And the last indicative factor of influencing students´
motivation is the non formal resources like: museum visits, science fairs and press science.
These three factors to motivate students are perfectly applicable to the situation of teaching
Chemistry in my country. Furthermore, most of us agree with the solutions proposed in my
environment suggesting that we are in the right direction.

Date: 2012.10.23

Posted by BRAJKOVIC Divna (HELMo-Liège) (BELGIUM)

Message: Students’ Motivation to Learn Chemistry: the Greek Case

Possible suggestions to consider for papers and publications:
 Why is this paper relevant?
This paper sums up the factors influencing students’ motivation to learn chemistry. In addition, it gives methodological indications and relevant ideas to increase motivation.

 Does the paper explain the causes for the students’ lack of motivation to study chemistry?
If yes, do you consider them relevant? Why?
Does the paper explain the students’ obstacles in addressing chemistry?
If yes, do you consider them relevant? Why?
The paper explains which intrinsic and extrinsic factors influence students’ motivation to learn chemistry.
The list of problems related to chemistry learning (difficulty of the chemistry courses, demanding curriculum considering the allocated time, unattractive teaching methods and lack of career opportunities) enables us to make a brief comparison with the Belgian situation.
On the whole, we face the same kind of problems in our country. The complexity of chemical concepts is a problem for many students. Furthermore, in mainstream education, demanding programmes, the number of students per class and the organisation of the schedule (50 minutes/lesson) do not allow to take the time to install some of those concepts. Indeed, it would be advisable to favour an inquiry-based approach in order to allow installing durably those concepts building them with the students.

 Does the paper / publication report successful experiences in motivating students to study chemistry?
If yes, do you consider them transferable to your situation? Why?

The publication reports a successful experience (using modules of the project PARSEL) and many methodological indications that would enable to increase students’ motivation. They recommend an experimental approach related with the student’s everyday life in a cooperative environment and in interdisciplinarity.
Educational tools such as ICT resources are also suggested for their motivating and attractive role in learning.
The authors also recommend other initiatives, such as extracurricular activities (visiting museums for instance) and using popularized science articles.
The ideas and hints mentioned seem relevant to me. Indeed, if the chemistry teacher builds the learning sequences implementing diversified and meaningful activities for the students, their motivation will be increased. From this perspective, the experimental approach is of course unavoidable. Applying laboratory sessions remains quite complex in certain courses of study in our secondary education. Nonetheless, an official directive currently establishes the number of students per class to organise the laboratory sessions more easily. In years to come we will be able to assess this measure.
However, interdisciplinarity seems to me more complex to implement within the framework of our science courses. Indeed, it would be interesting to make for cooperation between teachers of different subjects to carry out an interdisciplinary project with the students, but this kind of approach and supervision would require a new organisation of the science courses (number of hours, number of students/class, easy access to the specific premises [laboratory, premises with computers…]) and of the programmes.

Date: 2012.10.22

Posted by Sabine Jacquemin (Sartay-Liège) (BELGIUM)

Message: The motivation to learn chemistry: the Greek case.

The paper first emphasizes how important implementing and understanding key concepts of chemistry is to use them in order to identify important scientific questions, understand a scientific article or analyse information found in advertisements or on the Internet; thus to provide each and everyone with a certain scientific literacy.
The author points out that learning and motivation are explained in terms of mutual interactions involving personal, environmental and behavioural features.
It focuses then on students’ (de)motivation regarding sciences learning. Demotivation would be due to the difficulty of chemistry lessons, the obligation to comply with demanding curricula regarding the time dedicated to teaching, the use of little appealing teaching methods and the lack of career opportunities.
A better motivation to learn chemistry could be achieved acting on several factors:
- Teaching approaches: experimental work carried out by students themselves as soon as primary school helps to stimulate students’ interest and positively influence their attitude. It is even more so if the experiments are related to everyday life and carried out in cooperation. Interdisciplinary work is also a source of interest.
- Teaching tools: using interactive multimedia applications and teaching software make teaching material more appealing, stimulate interest and increase secondary students’ motivation.
- Activities: visiting museums and science exhibitions is stimulating, provided that the activities are well prepared. Contacts with the “community” (for instance the industry or university research units) could reveal career opportunities for students.

Students are motivated by what is relevant and of a perceptible interest for them. Thus teachers should make an effort to relate scientific concepts to students’ everyday and future life explaining the importance of “scientific literacy” and showing the numerous career opportunities in sciences.

Those reflections on the causes of demotivation and suggested solutions could be transposed to what we experience in Belgian schools. It is really interesting to make known the several initiatives implemented to help teachers in this respect … but some teachers could use some remotivation too!

Date: 2012.10.08

Posted by INFOREF (Belgium)

There’s a general disaffection among the youth for sciences and for Chemistry in particular.
Everywhere, from Bulgaria to Spain, the same arguments are mentioned.
• Society misinformation: “Chemistry is polluting”
• Low appeal of science courses of study: negative stereotypes, (too) difficult higher studies, chemistry is complex
• Unknown career prospects
• Few contacts with companies
• In secondary education,
• Teaching is often without context, little experimental “chemistry on paper”, “abstract and complex science, far from everyday life”
• The given time is too short
• No “great challenge” for chemistry

Looking for solutions:
- Importance of students’ alphabetisation in chemistry
Various factors that seem to positively influence students’ motivation to learn chemistry:
- educational approaches: using ICT (software, animations, 3D ...)

-non-formal educational tools: visiting museums, science exhibitions...

-experiments directly related to everyday life

Date: 2012.10.03

Posted by Murat DEMİRBAŞ (Turkey)

Message: This paper is relevant bacause it is about students’ motivation for studying chemistry with a general literacy references about the subject and also particular perspective for the Greek students.The motivation subject is discussed in many different theories and the paper has a brief information about the subject area,and this makes it persuasive.

The paper discssed the topic in four main factors and there are good examples in all factors. The study has unique conclusions for Greece. The study demonstrates that students have a negative attitude regarding the usefulness of the chemistry course to their future career,it points out that only four percent of school students want to study chemistry for their proffessional lives. When we look in studying chemistry for a career,it can be said that in Turkey chemistry is also not a popular area for proffessional life,people can not find good jobs after graudating universities. So it makes me curious about how the situations for other countries in the content of careers in chemistry.

The paper shows both the negative and positive factors that influences on Greek students in studying chemistry.The negative factors seems general like bad teaching methods and inoperative curriculum and also smattering career oppurtinities .These factors seems paralel with the situations in Turkey for me. And the paper also gives positive factors for the Greek students.

This paper is a brief guide for understanding the postive and negative factors that influence students for studying chemistry and it points out the problems for Greek students.

Date: 2012.10.01

Posted by MILENA KIROVA (Bulgaria)

Message: The paper provides a summary of research analyses concerning students’ motivation to learn chemistry. The information is organized in two parts.
The introductory part explains what motivation for learning is. It defines the relation between motivation and scientific literacy, and briefly surveys the social cognitive theory as regards to possibilities of fostering motivation for learning. The authors of the paper emphasize the relevance of science to students’ education and future career as an important motivational factor. The factors that determine motivation are grouped into five categories.
The second part of the paper deals with the research analyses carried out by Greek researchers. The researches are analyzed on the basis of their relation to one of the three groups of motivational factors indicated by the authors as most important, i.e. teaching approaches, educational tools and non-formal educational material and activities. These three groups combine results of twelve studies, which provide valuable experience and useful motivation-increasing practices that are relevant to any environment.
The teaching approach, as a motivational factor, refers to laboratory experiments, interdisciplinary teaching methods, problem-based learning, learning through research and understanding the interrelation between science and society. More laboratory-based activities need to be integrated into the curriculum. They not only stimulate students’ interest, but allows them interpret chemistry as a practical science with application relevant to everyday life, as stated in the paper.
The “educational tools” factor concerns mainly applications based on information and communication technologies. The paper presents two case studies conducted in Greece. One of them refers to the use of educational software in chemistry teaching, proved to positively influence students’ motivation. The other one is related to the multi-media applications, which arouse students’ interest in the subject of chemistry.
Non-formal educational material and activities include visits to museums, attending fairs of science, etc. The paper, however, does not present any detailed description of teaching practices and particular survey results of students’ attitude.
Apart from the three main motivational factors, the paper also focuses on the complex chemistry content, as influencing students’ interest, combined with little teaching time, unattractive teaching methods and few career opportunities.
The paper is a useful review of the Greek researchers’ studies discussing motivational factors of learning chemistry. The references provided can help the work of other researchers in the field.

Date: 2012.09.28

Posted by SAMIR NAIMOV (Bulgaria)

Message: The article is fused on the school students’ motivation in studding chemistry, and there I have found the paper relevant to the objectives of the project. Article is organized in two main sections: introduction and results. An introduction provides a broad overview of the topic supported by 13 literature citations. The results section by itself summarizes the data obtained during previous studies of the authors. Based on the author’s statements the study presented is unique for Greece. There are no systematic studies on measuring students’ motivation to learn chemistry. The study demonstrates that the measurement of high school students’ attitudes toward chemistry reveals a neutral attitude regarding the interest of the chemistry course and a negative attitude regarding the usefulness of the chemistry course to their future career. The paper also reviles that only four per cent of school students’ express the wish to study chemistry at University. The authors’ efforts are focused on examining work of Greek researchers in order to identify different factors that have been inferred to influence student motivation to learn chemistry. Paper also demonstrates that usage of more attractive approaches such as multimedia applications, problem-based learning may do stimulate student interest toward chemistry. Another reason for the recent student’s attitude toward learning chemistry In Greece is related to chemistry curricula which may need further optimization in order to make it more attractive for school students. In this regard I would state that the paper do give a kind of guide line for solving the problem. In the same time it is clearly stated that in order to direct measurement of the factors that influence student motivation to learn chemistry requires more in-depth research.

Date: 2012.09.27

Posted by Mairead Glynn (Ireland)

Message: This publication summaries and discusses research conducted in the area of student motivation to learn chemistry with particular reference to Greek students.
The author lists the factors that negatively influence the motivation of Greek students:
1. Presumed difficulty of the chemistry course.
2. Demanding curriculum with little allocated teaching time.
3. The use of unattractive teaching methods.
4. A lack of career opportunities.
There is no doubt that in Ireland chemistry is perceived as one of the more difficult science subjects. Approximately 13% of students opted to study chemistry for the leaving certificate compared with 53% opting to study biology. Many of my students associate chemistry with elite subjects such as honours mathematics and third level courses such as medicine, dentistry etc. This is an issue that can be addressed in transition year, however not all students avail of this option.
While the junior and senior cycle chemistry curriculum is demanding, adequate teaching time is allocated at the all levels. Consequently this should not be a factor that would negatively influence Irish students.
According to the publication, approximately 4% of Greek students wish to study chemistry at third level. One of the main reasons cited for this is a negative attitude towards the usefulness of chemistry in a future career and few career opportunities. In Ireland multinational investment is one of the few preforming areas of the economy. Jobs in this area offer excellent career opportunities and attractive salaries. Graduates in areas such as chemistry are highly sought after by these industries. There is a lack of knowledge and awareness amongst students regarding job opportunities available to students as a result of studying chemistry at second and third level.
The publication also discusses factors which positively influence Greek students’ motivation to study and learn chemistry. These factors are:
1. Teaching approaches.
2. Educational tools.
3. Non-formal educational material and activities.
The author discusses research findings that show laboratory based learning, in particular experiments linked with the everyday life of the student, stimulates interest and has a positive affect on students attitude. Particular emphasis is placed on the students conducting experiments themselves. This approach is already incorporated at junior and senior chemistry level. The current senior chemistry course consists of 28 mandatory experiments and the junior science curriculum consists of 30 such experiments- all of which are intended to be carried out by the student themselves.
Another aspect of teaching approaches discussed in this article is interdisciplinary teaching, commonly referred to in Ireland as cross-curricular planning. This is something that at first glance appears very achievable. However, from my experience, it is often aspired to by all subject departments within a secondary school and is rarely achieved. With the ever increasing demands on teachers within their own departments it is difficult to see how teachers would have the time or opportunity to liaise closely with teachers of other disciplines.
With €150m of government funding specifically targeted towards ICT in the classroom in 2009, ICT is more evident than ever in the classroom. Digital overhead projectors and laptops are now common-place in classrooms and science labs.
It is apparent that teachers have embraced the digital era. Despite this greater awareness, obtaining resources can be a time consuming and sometimes fruitless exercise.

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.