Contextual, relevant and practical chemistry teaching at upper secondary school level textbooks in Finland

  • Veli-Matti Ikävalko Unit of Chemistry Teacher Education, Department of Chemistry, University of Helsinki
  • Maija Aksela Unit of Chemistry Teacher Education, Department of Chemistry, University of Helsinki

Abstract

Contextual teaching approaches can motivate students, make chemistry learning more relevant and affect the students’ career choices later in life. This article presents the needs analysis section of a design research project. This needs analysis focused on the instructions for experimental tasks (N=160) found in Finnish upper secondary school textbooks and the STS (Science-Technology-Society) and everyday chemistry content in these instructions. It was found that the studied content can be divided into three levels: (II) context-based experiment instructions, (I) indirect contextual references and (0) no context. Over one third of the experiment instructions (37.5%) did not contain any context whatsoever. The content that did have a context mostly dealt with household chemistry related to everyday phenomena such as food and foodstuffs. The second most common themes in the instructions were: environment and nature and industry, technology and production. Most of the instructions were “recipe-like” and on the first level of Gilbert’s context model. In terms of relevance, most of the studied instructions focused on the individual level. In the future, experiment instructions should be developed to be more relevant at school level.

Published
2015-07-30
Section
Articles

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