When knowing less means learning more: the paradox of implementing enquiry-based learning activities in chemistry education

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Abstract

This chapter looks at the potential role of open-ended problems, both within a problem-based learning context and in other contexts, in promoting learning by chemistry students. It contrasts problem-based, and other enquiry-based, approaches with the requirements for very precise evidence of success in an education system that is held highly accountable to funders and regulatory bodies. Whilst educators feel that giving verifiable learning outcomes is increasingly required of us in an age of performativity and managerialism, few of us were ourselves motivated by the prospect of meeting a checklist of learning intentions. I will outline two examples which show how it was possible to reconcile the need to demonstrate that learning had taken place with a complex, open-ended activity, and, importantly, to evaluate the impact of such activities. It will describe how these experiences have influenced my own teaching. The chapter will conclude with guidance on how people might generate suitable tasks to enhance their teaching whilst ensuring that essential learning about chemistry is not compromised.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTeaching Chemistry in Higher Education
Subtitle of host publicationA Festschrift in Honour of Professor Tina Overton
EditorsMichael K. Seery, Claire McDonnell
Chapter16
Pages225-236
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • chemistry education
  • enquiry based learning
  • teaching

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