ERIC Number: EJ1144450
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Aug
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 73
Who Says Organic Chemistry Is Difficult? Exploring Perspectives and Perceptions
O'Dwyer, Anne; Childs, Peter E.
EURASIA Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, v13 n2 p3599-3620 Aug 2017
Much research has identified organic chemistry as an area of difficulty for learners. There is also much literature pertaining to the factors that contribute to learners' difficulties. This paper explores the intersections of teachers' and learners' perceptions of teaching and learning organic chemistry respectively. Understanding these nuances has implications for all involved in the teaching and learning of organic chemistry. Teachers' understanding of their learners' perspectives has a critical influence on developing meaningful learning. This paper reports the perceptions of those teaching and learning organic chemistry at high school and university level. Surveys were used to gather data from four cohorts of participants. These included high school students (n = 276) and teachers (n = 79) from 73 high schools as well as university students (n = 121) and lecturers (n = 20) from 12 different universities in Ireland. While many of the learner participants enjoyed organic chemistry and found it interesting, the majority found it difficult to learn and understand. The learners' attitudes to organic chemistry was compared with their actual level of understanding. This comparison revealed some disparity. The teachers showed a relatively accurate perception of their learners' experience of organic chemistry. While there was broad agreement between the teachers' and learners' perceptions of organic chemistry, the discrepancies are explored to inform future teaching and learning. There were different reasons why teachers and learners identified topics as easy or difficult to teach or learn respectively. This paper provides a novel contribution to existing literature by investigating teachers' and learners' perspectives. There is evidence to suggest that these participants are not aware of the multitude of complex factors impacting their experiences. The participants' views are largely-dominated by external factors in the educational contexts. While these factors are significant, it is important also that teachers and learners become more aware of the intrinsic factors. In any case, educational change is a slow process, and tangible change can only happen within individual classrooms if driven by individual teachers and learners. Many of the extrinsic factors are beyond the control of teachers and learners. However, addressing some of the intrinsic factors is within the capabilities of teachers and learners who are willing to share and develop together. The critical role of teacher's empathy and other factors are identified and addressed in this paper.
Descriptors: Foreign Countries, Organic Chemistry, Science Instruction, High Schools, Secondary School Science, College Science, High School Students, College Faculty, College Students, Surveys, Attitude Measures, Knowledge Level, Coding, Likert Scales, Scientific Concepts, Misconceptions, Statistical Analysis
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Ireland