Lifelong Learning Programme

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Students’ Motivation for Chemistry

M. De Kesel, B. Tinant

Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium)

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The youths’ disaffection for science in general and for chemistry in particular is widespread in Europe.
The situation is sometimes catastrophic: in Belgium at the UCL, 120 students graduated in chemistry in 1972 (called “licences” at the time); nowadays, there are only a dozen of them a year.

Everywhere, from Bulgaria to Spain, the same arguments come up; they can be divided in two categories:
- Society-related arguments.
- Subject-related arguments.

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Comments about this Paper

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2013.02.11

Posted by José Antonio Martín-Lagos Martínez (Spain)

Message: The document explains what the reasons for students´ generalized disinterest in the scientific disciplines, and more specifically in chemistry, might be. The article explains that chemistry is not appealing to students because they relate it to environmental pollution and because it is an experimental discipline that is taught from a very theoretical point of view in schools. The author reflects that the solution for the students to show more interest in the subject must come from the chemistry teachers themselves. Concepts such as the “mole” or specific chemical formulas are intangible for students. Therefore, it is necessary to devise new ways of reaching students, starting with an improvement of the facilities (laboratories). In addition, the teacher must win over students’ interest, trying to bring chemistry closer to the students’ everyday world. The article is interesting because it proposes ideas of how to improve a chemistry class, starting with an anecdote, presenting the concepts with diagrams and proposing problems or questions in order to integrate the concepts.

Date: 2013.02.04

Posted by Galina Kirova (Bulgaria)

Message: The paper provides results of a research concerning the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation of students for learning chemistry. It describes in details the causes for students’ motivation and reports a correlation between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The disturbing fact is that a small percentage of those surveyed find intrinsic motivation important, although they feel curious to learn and are aware of the significant role of chemistry for their future.
The belief that studying chemistry requires special talents is one of the reasons for students’ lack of motivation. This idea is often supported by some teachers as well. Not every student can perceive that the efforts they exert to learn will pay off later.
As it is in Bulgaria, theory-based lessons discourage students to a great extent. Experiments and demonstrations should cover most of the content. Students should be encouraged to apply their own initiative and creativity and stimulated to use their imagination and logical and critical thinking.
The author of the paper defines students’ desire of self-developing, gaining significant knowledge and improving skills as a type of intrinsic motivation. External factors, such as the choice of specific teaching methods and forms of teacher-student interaction, are also important. Great importance is placed on teacher’s personality as well. And I fully agree that teachers can inspire students and manage their motivation. They diagnose students’ needs and adapt the learning process to their interests. Since motivation is based on individual needs and interests, it is quite logical to conclude that successful learning depends on students’ desire to achieve it.
According to the Polish model, the transition from passive to active learning can be encouraged through small group discussions and involvement in more open-ended type of activities. I find these two approaches quite relevant to employ in our schools.
Another feature of the Polish model that appeals to me is the cooperation between high schools and universities and the way university teachers give lectures among secondary level students to popularize chemistry. The paper offers a useful approach to familiarizing students with the recent scientific achievements by visiting research centers and chemical plants.
What I find extremely important, as well as quite feasible is the integration of practical knowledge into the curriculum.

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.