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Educational Package: basic rules to approach scientific contents in an amusing but rigorous way. L. Ricco, M. Alloisio, C. Artini, A. Borsese, A. M. Cardinale, M. M. Carnasciali, I. Parrachino Dipartimento di Chimica e Chimica Industriale - Università di Genova. Alex H. Johnstone

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Educational Package: basic rules to approach scientific contents in an amusing but rigorous way

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Educational package basic rules to approach scientific contents in an amusing but rigorous way

Educational Package:

basic rules to approach scientific contents in an amusing but rigorous way

L. Ricco, M. Alloisio, C. Artini, A. Borsese,

A. M. Cardinale, M. M. Carnasciali, I. Parrachino

Dipartimento di Chimica e Chimica Industriale - Università di Genova


Educational package basic rules to approach scientific contents in an amusing but rigorous way

Alex H. Johnstone

(Centre for Science Education – University of Glasgow)

Useful considerations in the teaching-learning process

  • What is learned is controlled by what you already know and understand.

  • How you learn is controlled by how you learned in the past (related to learning style but also to your interpretation of the “rules”).

  • If learning is to be meaningful, it has to link on to existing knowledge and skills, enriching both.

  • The amount of material to be processed in unit time is limited.

  • Feedback and reassurance are necessary for comfortable learning, and assessment should be humane.

  • Cognisance should be taken of learning styles and motivation.

  • Students should consolidate their learning by asking themselves about what goes on their own heads – metacognition.

  • There should be room for problem solving in its fullest sense.

  • There should be room to create, defend, try out, hypothesise.

  • There shoud be opportunity given to teach (you don’t really learn until you teach).

(L. Cardellini, “An Interview with Alex H. Johnstone”, J. Chem. Educ., 2000, 77, 1571-1573)


Educational package basic rules to approach scientific contents in an amusing but rigorous way

Interviews to Adults

1. Why have you decided not to continue your studies in the scientific field after upper secondary school?

2. What are the major difficulties have you found in studying chemistry at school? (lack of basic requisites, cognitive problems linked to some contents, other).

3. How would you assess your knowledge of chemistry? (poor, fair, good, very good).

4. Should you have any scientific curiosity, would you try to satisfy it? If so, how would you do it?

5. Do you think mass media provide access to suitable scientific information (particularly on chemistry) that you can understand?

6. What do you associate with the adjective “chemical”?

7. If you melt 5 grams of salt in 100 grams of water, the solution obtained will weigh:

105 grams; between 100 and 105 grams; 100 grams

8. We sometimes perceive the presence of some substances through the sense of smell, as they give off a characteristic scent.

9. Do you think it is made of material or immaterial particles?

10. Can you think of an example of a pure substance in solid state? And in liquid state? And in gaseous state?


Educational package basic rules to approach scientific contents in an amusing but rigorous way

Interviews to Teachers

1. Main difficulties in chemistry learning at school.

2. Main difficulties in chemistry teaching at school.

3. Identification of the main reasons why students do not choose to continue learning scientific subjects and chemistry in particular.

4. Identification of strategies to rise the number of students choosing to learn scientific subjects in higher education.

5. Description of initiatives known in the field of promoting lifelong learning.

6. Involvement in the initiatives in the field of promoting lifelong learning.

7. Suggestions.


Educational package basic rules to approach scientific contents in an amusing but rigorous way

Results about difficulties and obstacles of teachers and students in the teaching-learning process of chemistry

  • Chemistry has a bad image: it is associated with negative aspects of life and considered as the antithesis of what is natural.

  • Chemistry is considered a difficult subject because it makes use of difficult language, microscopic and macroscopic level at the same time, mnemonic concepts, models; moreover it seems to be abstract.

  • Chemistry teachers are not adequate: many of them are not graduated in chemistry and most of them did not attend a specific training necessary to ‘learn to teach’ .

  • Text books are too difficult.

  • Laboratory activities are absent or, in the best cases, sporadic or inadequate.

  • There is a lack of motivation: students and adults think that chemistry is an abstract subject and do not manage to see its connection with everyday life. Moreover they have a superficial knowledge of the job opportunities for a chemist.


Educational package basic rules to approach scientific contents in an amusing but rigorous way

Fundamental rules that have to be followed in order to produce a good educational package about scientific topics

What is an educational package?

  • a knowledge route on a specific topic addressed to people of different age, background and education degree

  • not a teaching course on a specific topic

  • not an up-to-date course.


Educational package basic rules to approach scientific contents in an amusing but rigorous way

Fundamental rules that have to be followed in order to produce a good educational package about scientific topics

  • The contents of the educational package should be topical…

  • …with links and examples in everyday life…

  • …and able to arouse curiosity and questions.

  • Content explaination should be provided in a rigorous but simple way…

  • ….in order to not discourage people having inadequate basic knowledge.

  • Content discussion should also stimulate the need to know more.

  • There should be the option to go deeper by gradually passing to higher levels of difficulty.

  • Pictures and figures (if possible not chemical formula) should be used to make easier the understanding of the text.

  • The proposal of interactive actions (activities to do at home, videos to look, exercices) has to stimulate the discussion in order to make the training less cold and more amusing.

  • Activities should be closely related to the contents and achievable with materials unexpensive and easy to get.

  • Exercices should be coherent with the level of given information.


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