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Identification of difficult topics in the teaching and learning of Chemistry in Irish schools and the development of an intervention programme to target some of these difficulties

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dc.contributor.advisor Childs, Peter
dc.contributor.creator Sheehan, Maria 2010-07-26T12:27:44Z 2010-07-26T12:27:44Z 2010
dc.description non-peer-reviewed en_US
dc.description.abstract The purpose of this investigation was to identify the topics in Chemistry that the majority of Irish pupils find difficult from Junior Certificate level right through to Third Level. It was then hoped to determine the reasons why pupils find these topics difficult. Finally it was intended to develop, implement and evaluate materials and strategies that aimed to alleviate difficulties in the learning and understanding of these topics for pupils studying Chemistry in Ireland. There were three distinct phases in this investigation. Phase one involved the development of four questionnaires: for pupils at Junior Cycle, Leaving Cycle, Leaving Certificate Chemistry teachers and third level science and engineering students. These questionnaires consisted of a list of the different Chemistry topics studied at each level attached to a Likert scale, which asked pupils to give their opinion on the level of difficulty of the Chemistry topics. The views of practicing Chemistry teachers were also sought as to the topics they think students find most difficult. Findings from this phase of the investigation indicate that pupils have difficulty with the majority of topics in the different Chemistry courses, and that these difficulties persist from Junior Certificate level right through to third level education. Phase two of this investigation involved the development and implementation of instruments that would determine why those studying Chemistry find these topics difficult. The instrument was a pen and paper tool and was fashioned to assess the cognitive development of Irish pupils and also to determine the type of chemical misconceptions Irish pupils possess about the difficult Chemistry topics identified in phase one of the investigation. The literature has identified the areas of cognitive development and alternative conceptions (misconceptions) as having a major effect on how easy or difficult pupils find Chemistry topics. Results from phase two indicate that the majority of pupils/students in this study were operating at the concrete operational stage of cognitive development and that they possessed many Chemical misconceptions relating to fundamental Chemistry topics such as the Mole and the Particulate Nature of Matter. Phase three of this investigation involved the development, implementation and evaluation of teaching strategies, activities and materials to alleviate difficulties pupils have with some of the identified difficult topics. This took the form of the ‘ITS Chemistry’ intervention programme, which addressed the Particulate nature of Matter and the Mole concept. Evaluation of the intervention programme ‘ITS Chemistry’ showed that, within the limitations of the evaluation, it did indeed have some positive effects on the cognitive development of participating pupils. It was also shown to have a positive effect in the reduction of the number of chemical misconceptions held by pupils. The results suggest that such a research-based intervention strategy can alleviate, at least partially, some of the factors that make Chemistry topics difficult. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher University of Limerick, Department of Chemical & Environmental Science en_US
dc.subject chemistry en_US
dc.subject education en_US
dc.subject Ireland en_US
dc.title Identification of difficult topics in the teaching and learning of Chemistry in Irish schools and the development of an intervention programme to target some of these difficulties en_US
dc.type Doctoral thesis en_US
dc.type.supercollection all_ul_research en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_theses_dissertations en_US
dc.type.restriction none en

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