Holistic and Inquiry-Based Education for Sustainable Development in Chemistry

by Marianne Juntunen

Institution: University of Helsinki
Department: Department of Chemistry
Year: 2015
Keywords: kemian opetus
Record ID: 1136120
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/154531


Chemistry plays an important role in making the future more sustainable and solving the related global issues. Curricula, national and international educational strategies, research literature and chemical industry are all focusing on sustainable development. We need more environmentally literate chemists, chemistry teachers and students future citizens, who are to solve the numerous environmental challenges that face the whole world. The main aim of this design research study was to find out what are the features of holistic and inquiry-based education for sustainable development in chemistry. At the same time, the aim was to foster students environmental literacy, argumentation skills and positive attitudes towards chemistry. Education for sustainable development in chemistry is related to socio-scientific issues, e.g., life-cycle thinking and green chemistry. Theoretical problem-analysis of the study was used to investigate the approaches that are of key importance to the study presented in this dissertation: sustainable development, green chemistry, the life-cycles of different products, environmental literacy, socio-scientific education, and the pedagogical methods of inquiry-based learning and argumentation. The empirical design phase sought an answer to the main research question: What are the main features of holistic and inquiry-based education for sustainable development in chemistry? The main focus of the research was in teaching life-cycle analysis, which is one of the key elements in the Finnish national curriculum. The design research project constituted of three phases, which were conducted during the years 2010 2014. The first empirical phase was conducted in four chemistry teachers in-service training courses. During these courses, a total of 20 chemistry teachers created new inquiry-based methods for teaching life-cycle analysis in chemistry. This development process was based on theoretical problem analysis. The second empirical phase focused on creating a collaboratively-developed design solution based on the teachers concepts and the effects of this solution. The participants in this second phase were 105 9th grade students, whose environmental literacy, argumentation skills and attitudes towards chemistry learning were evaluated. The third phase was theoretical. It consisted of comparing the gained empirical knowledge to theoretical literature in order to answer the main research question. The methods of data analysis included content analysis of texts, semi-structured interviews and quantitative surveys. The validity of the results of the conducted cyclic design research project is enhanced by theoretical literature analysis, methodological triangulation, researcher triangulation, the testing of the developed teaching concept in authentic environments and the systematic, visualised documentation of the design phases. The design phases resulted in three types of knowledge: 1) new chemistry teaching concepts for sustainability education that use life-cycle thinking and inquiry-based…