Lifelong Learning Programme

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Student’s Motivation to Study Chemistry:
some Insights into the Portuguese Case

O. Ferreira1, A. Silva2 and M.F. Barreiro1

1Polytechnic Institute of Bragança and Laboratory of Separation and Reaction Engineering (Portugal)
2Agrupamento de Escolas Abade de Baçal (Portugal)

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected]


Chemistry is universally assumed as one of the most difficult and demanding science subjects. It is recognized as involving difficult concepts, specialized terminology and mathematics. Moreover, some chemistry curricula are considered quite apart from students’ interests, every-day life contexts and technological issues. Context-based chemical education has then emerged as a highly valuable strategy worldwide being presently also followed in the Portuguese educational system. Nevertheless this positive aspect, chemistry is nowadays facing several constraints in the Portuguese context, particularly in the 12th grade, namely by the reduction of the total teaching time, the fact of becoming an elective course, and the reduction of the teaching time devoted to experimental activities. With the present work we intend to give an overview of the Portuguese situation concerning student’s motivation to study chemistry addressing the following points: (1) Chemistry in the Portuguese educational context, (2) Analysis of national reports/initiatives; and (3) Analysis of the Chemistry is all around Portuguese teachers’ opinion. Concerning this last point, one important issue is the generalized acceptation that a motivated and well prepared teacher is the key for the success. The implementation and use of ICT-based resources in schools is seen as a powerful auxiliary tool to teach and learn science. Nevertheless, the chosen ICT-based resources must be centered on the student, motivating an autonomous thinking/learning process. Teaching resources could not be seen as a teacher substitute. It is generally accepted by the Portuguese involved teachers that students like and privilege the direct contact with the teacher.

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Comments about this Paper

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2013.06.04

Posted by Yiannis Sarigiannis (Greece)

Message: This paper describes the current situation in Portuguese high schools. Most students actually deny to study chemistry or other related sciences. There is an overview of the recent changes in the Portuguese legislation and how these affect the Chemistry weekly teaching time.
As it is pointed out, until the age of 12 chemistry is not a single course but the young students are taught some aspects of chemistry through other courses (Environmental Study or Natural Sciences). Later, at the secondary education chemistry is part of Physics and Chemistry course. In fact, Chemistry is a pure course only in the 12th grade as an elective course, at the end of high school courses. This is an assured reason for the reduced motivation of students.
Moreover, this paper presents the results of a broad study among the students explaining the main reasons for the lack of motivation to study Physics and Chemistry. The difficulty of the subject at the 12th grade and the possibility to fail at the exams for the university classification, discourage the young students to choose chemistry as an elective course. In addition, the effect of a motivated teacher to the teaching of chemistry is discussed.

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.