Skip to main content

Full text of "ERIC ED595176: The Role of Educational Research in Teaching Chemistry"

See other formats

ISSN: 2230-9926 

Available online at 


International Journal of Development Research 
Vol. 09, Issue, 01, pp.25253-25257, January, 2019 



1,*Adolfo Eduardo Obaya Valdivia, ‘Yolanda Marina Vargas-Rodriguez, 
12Lucila Giammatteo and 3Citlali Ruiz Solérzano 

1Department of MADEMS (Chemistry), Chemical Science, FES-Cuautitlan UNAM, Mexico 
2Instituto Tecnoldgico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM), Mexico 
3CCH Naucalpan UNAM, Mexico 


Article History: 

Received 224 October, 2018 
Received in revised form 

19" November, 2018 

Accepted 13"" December, 2018 
Published online 30" January, 2019 

Key Words: 

Educational Research, Chemistry Teaching. 

An overview of the relationship between educational research and teaching chemistry is 
presented, covering the opportunity areas between production and science popularization 
(dissemination of scientific knowledge). Knowledge apprehension and appropriation are also 
discussed in the educational context of UNAM, in Facultad de Estudios SuperioresCuautitlan. 
Links between scientific and pedagogical training are defined by considering educational research 
as a means to broaden the theoretical and methodological options for chemistry teaching. 

Copyright © 2019, Adolfo Eduardo Obaya Valdivia et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which 
permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. 

Citation: Adolfo Eduardo Obaya Valdivia, Yolanda Marina Vargas-Rodriguez, Lucila Giammatteo and Citlali Ruiz Solérzano, 2019. “The role of 

educational research in teaching chemistry”, /nternational Journal of Development Research, 09, (01), 25253-25257. 


This paper provides an overview of certain opportunity areas 
related to chemistry teaching in the current educational 
context. If teaching processes are defined by content and ways 
of teaching, then the educational practice supposes getting to 
know reality, learning and the problems that arise within. This 
extends the analysis of the teacher’s role and consequently, the 
ways of educational research as a fundamental axis for teacher 
training (Bizcarra, 2009). By constructing an object of study 
that lays within real chemistry teaching processes, 
circumstances in which experiences and proposals redefine the 
teaching conditions are created. Having this in mind, it is 
evident that our academic work with high — school and college 
teachers needs to recognize the characteristics of teaching 
practices and the main theoretical, technical and 
epistemological issues. 

A series of opportunities areas have been identified 

e The social role of a science teacher 

*Corresponding author: Adolfo Eduardo Obaya Valdivia 
Department of MADEMS (Chemistry), Chemical Science, FES-Cuautitlan 
UNAM, Mexico. 

e Dissemination of scientific knowledge as information, 
learning and construction. 

e Lack of entailment between science teaching, history 
and scientific phylosophy. 

e Relationships between the teacher and educational 
research (knowledge accumulation). 

e Links between the teacher and _ the 
investigation processes. 

e Teacher’s efforts to 

e The attempts to establish links between didactics, 
scientific training and science production with a 
theoretic — methodological approach to teaching that if 
possible, guarantees the articulation to define new ways 
of teaching science in general, and chemistry in 


recognize teaching practice 

Scientific knowledge dissemination plays an essential role to 
replicate values, knowledge, abilities and attitudes that set up 
conditions and life expectations, as well as job related 
functions, investigation, and continuous feedback related to 
content and ways of learning in institutions (Varilla, Ramos 
and Carrizo, 2005). Teaching practice supposes being aware of 
the reality, learning and the problems that arise as a start-up 


point to elaborate, enrich and restore curriculum, demanding a 
commitment for didactics, reality being taken into account 
(Onwuegbuzie and Collins, 2007). Chemistry didactics, upto 
now, has been sheltered in the practice of educational models 
that seem to be efficient but that encases several difficulties in 
knowledge dissemination. This is due primarily to the lack of 
clear comprehension-explanation mechanisms for those 
theories that are being reproduced. A spectrum of obstacles is 
then built, especially when ways or organizing scientific 
rationality for knowledge dissemination are concerned (Obaya 
and Delgadillo, 2001). Scientific reasoning and knowledge 
accumulated by scientific research are key elements to 
incorporate into teaching. If one wants to disseminate 
organized information, it is necessary to teach people to think 
of what they are receiving (knowledge thinking). Scientific 
knowledge and its popularization acquire then relevance. A 
fundamental aspect is to reproduce scientific training, based 
upon reconstructing the logic beneath scientific thought. 
Eventhough this has always been present in the classrooms, it 
has been conditioned to the contents’ levels of information that 
are taught within teaching practice and according to our 
current reality (Olguin and Obaya, 2016). If all knowledge 
supposes the presence of a socio.historical context, it should be 
disseminated in such a way that the richness of the context in 
which knowledge was achieved is considered without leaving 
theory aside. Thus, the theoretical product and the logic with 
which it was created are integrated. Theory of knowledge 
considers that developing science means to accumulate 
concluding statements about reality, which are tested, verified 
or refuted. 

Learning and Knowledge construction in Teaching 

In Mexico, where most population is young, people need to be 
involved at schools to contribute in scientific training 
processes. When people learn to explain and apply their 
knowledge of the physical world by practical means, they 
extend an innate ability of perception and curiosity, 
incrementing their abilities and needs for thinking, creating 
and therefore, investigating. The protagonic responsability of 
the students activity as a key element to learning has been 
related to the tendency that considers the knowledge 
construction process as an individual act. As such, it becomes 
an exclusive product of the interaction between the subject and 
the object of study, relatively far away from the influence of 
other people, including teachers. Even if the self-structuring 
activity is the basis of knowledge construction and has its own 
intrinsic laws, it is not implied that the teachers functions and 
psychopedagogical interventions have to be left aside. It 
should be intrinsically linked to didactics so as to provide an 
operational direction. More over, there are reasons to establish 
that the teacher’s and the peers’influence make the student’s 
activity structurant, having a bigger influence over his learning 
(Espinoza and Salfate, 2006). This supposes displacing the 
focus of the structurant activity as the object of study to the 
interaction processes between the teacher, the students and the 
content that trigger and promote the activity, not limiting only 
to school learning but including change processes typically 
linked to evolutional development as well. This shift has a 
great relevance in the teacher’s role and his functions as a 
learning guide or facilitator, since it is his duty to create 
optimal conditions within the classroom. What should the 
teacher do, in concrete, to guide and facilitate learning through 
the problematization perspective? Despite the diversity of 
proposals that didactics offers nowadays, it is imposible to 

Adolfo Eduardo Obaya Valdivia et al. The role of educational research in teaching chemistry 

provide one right answer to this and other questions. In this 
way, difficulties that arise to implement and generalize 
pedagogical practices inspired in constructivist principles are 
evidenced in chemistry learning (GOmez-Moliné and Sanmarti, 
1996). How many areas of opportunity related to scientific 
training become apparent in chemistry didactics? How many 
tasks are opened to the concretion of this pedagogical 
discipline? It results evident that to generate a didactics 
construction of chemistry from this new perspective, we need a 
new learning proposal where dextresities, values, norms, 
attitudes, interests are captured (Parga and Mora, 2014). In 
many occasions, the student is pulled away from his own 
thoughts and discoveries from his own learning. The teacher 
not only does not precise the desired learning proposal, but he 
also manifests the willingness of not inciding over the students 
learning and gives way to his own learning process. By 
identifying the self-structuring activity as the individual 
activity, it is sometimes forgotten that the learning and 
teaching processes are in essence interactive, with three 
aspects that converge: the student that is involved in the 
learning process, the object(s) of study that constitute the 
learning content and the teacher that favors learning 
(Schmelkes, 2001). Considering these three aspects, the basic 
unit analysis of the learning-teaching process is not the 
student’s individual activity anymore. Rather than that, we 
need to consider the articulated activity of the student and the 
teacher as a means to perform learning activities (Lopez, 
Blanco and Serrano, 2017). The self-structuring activity of the 
student is generated, developed and occurs as part of an 
interpersonal activity. 

Hence, the student’s activity that is at the basis of the 
knowledge construction process is set within the interaction 
teacher — content — student (Parga and Mora, 2014). 
Educational research will then be confronted with two 
prioritary areas of opportunity: identifying the guidelines and 
interactive sequences that contribute to the knowledge 
construction process, and showing, if possible, the mechanisms 
by which the interaction teacher — student incides over the self- 
structuring activity of the student as a consequence of 
knowledge formal logic (Schmelkes, 1993). Thereby, in 
Piaget’s theory, the cognitive development is conceived 
fundamentally as the emergence of an individual’s internal 
plan (the balance of operational structures) in such a way that 
the interpersonal relationships, its characteristics and 
repercussions depend on the level achieved in that emergence, 
instead of being in its origin (Yilmaz, 2013). The challenge 
consists of integrating in the same explanatory frame the 
student’s self-structuring activity and the interactive processes. 
Even if it is perceived that both aspects are intertwined, they 
have not been integrated satisfactorily in an explanation of 
school learning (Tojar and Serrano, 2000). A new chemistry 
didactics should propose a pedagogical intervention that 
resolves the articulation between reality appropriation 
(apprehension) and knowledge appropriation (learning). 

Enfasizing the apprehension processes of the subject 
(student) implies 

e Contrarresting the tendencies of conceptual blockages 
and Foster the problematizing approach. 

e Favoring critics to the accumulated knowledge, being 
conscious that knowing a lot of theory does not 
necessarily implies thinking about reality. 

¢ Questioning scientific cosmovisions as an idea of a real 
or absolute explanation. 


e Developing the observation 
grouping that conducts to 

e Setting basis for new angles to observe reality, new 
concepts and ways of thinking as a product of 
interacting with reality in the sense of interpreting what 
is possible. 

e Discovering ruptures and lead to  gnoseological 
conditions and constructing scientific reality. 

in a _ methodological 
recognize limits of 

Possible relationships 

between content and _ teaching 

Undoubtedly, one of the most common problems that 
educational research does not consider are the links between 
content and teaching methods, not only in chemistry but 
education in general. It is a reality that after at least three 
centuries, the questions: What knowledge is needed to be 
disseminated? And How to disseminate it? are still a challenge 
among our socio-cultural-educational context. Nowadays, the 
relationship between content and teaching method includes 
and synthesizes all the pedagogical issues (Pérez and Pessoa 
de Carvalho, 2000). In the particular case of teaching 
chemistry, the answers presented upto now are far from being 
satisfactory. Paradogically, science has generated its own 
myths and rituals. An example of this is precisely teaching 
science, where the pretension of creating the scientific spirit in 
students is still a wish. Moreover, it is considered that teaching 
chemistry has not fulfilled its role and the gap between the 
chemistry being made and the one disseminated in schools is 
greater with time (Pérez y Pessoa de Carvalho, 2000). How do 
we pretend to create scientific thinking, if we, chemistry 
teachers settle with repeating knowledge without linking it to 
the method that originated it? Why is chemistry taought in a 
repetitive, memoristic and stereotyped way, forgetting its 
structure and history? The questions What to teach? and How 
to teach? cannot be posed without considering Why teaching? 
and What to teach for? Deep down, What to teach? and How 
to teach? are linked to what is knowledge? and How does a 
person disseminates, constructs or appropriates knowledge?, 
besides from What social and educational goals are met? 
What determines content and method? And Under which 
criteria is content selected and hierarched? 

Some content and method notions in teaching 

In order to understand the possible links between content and 
method in teaching, we take as an initial premise 
(Onwuegbuzie and Collins, 2007) that it is necessary to start 
with unfixed concepts or unschematized since we are in a 
dynamic situation at excellence. In this sense, we consider 
three elements or conceptual resources that are determinant for 
reflecting upon: 

e The links between content and method in teaching can 
be found in two essential moments: curricular and 

e The relationship between content and method can be 
seen through the successive transpositions that occur in 
the moments in which the knowledge that arises from 
investigation becomes part of teaching. 

e The dynamic between the links among content and 
method can be perceived in the intergame posed 
between two areas of rationality: the normativity and 
the susbtantial. 

International Journal of Development Research, Vol. 09, Issue, 01, pp. 25253-25257, January, 2019 

The first element makes reference to the situation previous to 
action, the formal curricular moment which is_ ideal, 
hypothetical and concerned to the planning task. The teaching 
moment constitutes the real and daily action, the in situ 
teaching event. In the second element, the concept of 
transposition allows us to observe that the content and method 
undergo a series of adjustments or adequations in the moments 
mentioned before, which include parameters such as the 
subjectivity within selection, hierarchy and organization, as 
well as the inerpretations that can be made in the planning and 
the teaching processes (Espinoza and Salfate, 2006). The third 
element is closely related to the previous one, allowing the 
identification of two schemes: the implicit normative 
rationality in the formal curriculum and the sustantive 
rationality displayed in school practice, given by the 
normativity. (Tojar and Serrano, 2000). Both schemes are 
usually in conflict due to the teacher’s interpretation of his 
daily tasks. 

Classroom moments 

The curricular proposal is reassessed in terms of the 
interpretation that the teacher does from his knowledge, 
experiences, the physical conditions of the classroom, the 
students’ individual characteristics and the — students 
heterogeinity during the pedagogical process (Giammatteo and 
Obaya, 2018). Another fundamental transposition is found 
here: the logic of the subject defined in the conceptual 
structure is presented as the formal factor that orients the 
process (Espinoza and Salfate, 2006). Nonetheless, even if not 
altered, this represents the external content object to 
communication and appropriation. This, in turn, is confronted 
with the accumulated content from both teacher and student, 
and it is this confrontation that defines the real logic of the 
process. As can be noted, the relationship between the 
subject’s logic and the process’s logic are presented as 
articulated but they are not the same. The first one orients the 
process and the second one determines the dynamic among 
knowledge dissemination and appropriation. The logic of the 
process is understood as a series of activities where 
interventions and interactions between teacher and students 
take place. These interactions are impossible to be predicted. 
In this real dynamic situation, it is possible to identify links 
between content and methods: from the teacher’s knowledge, 
where content is linked to a sui generis way of dissemination 
and the accumulated students‘knowledge, to sui generis 
construction or appropriation, where the congruence among 
both is more than ideal. We coincide with Gramsci in that “the 
most fascinating content and methods become inert if the 
teacher is not able to bring them to life”. We believe that 
different logics are involved in dissemination and 
appropriation, but both are articulated in a unique and lively 
process. The act of teaching is essentially a creative event, and 
therefore, original. 

Scientific rationality in teaching 

Considering the commitment to establish its own continuity, 
scientific knowledge popularization becomes one of the 
biggest problems in science. Therefore, getting someone closer 
to scientific knowledge, incorporating it into learning, 
facilitating its appropriation and internalization become 
fundamental purposes that provide themselves objects of study 
for scientific investigation which will require several levels 
and dimensions in teaching. 


In consequence for chemistry, both the investigation methods 
in teaching and cognitive methodologies and strategies for 
science popularization are fundamental (Obaya and Delgadillo, 
2001). In such a way, the problem of knowledge is not only the 
production or application of scientific research. Rather than 
that, the reflection for disseminating its contents in teaching, 
coming up with several strategies for its preservation and 
development, is required. Chemistry is rationally historical. 
The explanation of knowledge determinations and 
constructions within this discipline arises from the context in 
which they were originated, considering the conditions of 
rupture and continuity of scientific thought that are 
conceptually established in scientific revolutions. 

To establish the bonds between didactics and scientific 
training, it is fundamental to reflect upon 

e Scientific investigation 
e Scientific investigation training 
e Chemistry teaching 

Nowadays, educational research in science teaching represents 
the search for theoretical, methodological and _ technical 
options. This orients didactics to an articulation with rational 
processes which constructed science in differenet socio 
historical contexts. In this way, teaching which contrasts 
paradigms and gives answers to different questionings from 
epistemologists would favor its development. As a starting 
point, it is necessary to emphasize that educational research 
does not try to solve the problems within scientific 
investigation, but it does try to solve the following issues 
(Artigue, 2003): 

e Scientific knowledge popularization, supposing that 
both trainer and trainee in relationship with content will 
try to understand the rationale and formal logics of 
knowledge construction, considering the social context 
and reality conceptualization of the historic and 
epistemologic dimensions. 

e The problems related to search and theory specification, 
focused on an explicative and qualitative analysis that 
fulfills the basic theoretical investigations and 
prioritizing the concepts and knowledge production that 
the teacher generates in the classroom 

e The interest of finding new links between pedagogy and 
chemistry is due to the concerns that arise by observing 
the didactics implications with scientific training and 
knowledge popularization, recognizing that chemistry 
has specific knowledge and formal deductive logics that 
are configured by symbols, signs, signals, that establish 
a particular language (Gomez-Moliné and Sanmarti, 
2000) to which add up specific attitudes and abilities. 
This exclusive epistemological process has been 
scarcely revised in the different educational levels and it 
is evident that it requires a bigger training process. 

Based on the previous aspects, there are three elements to 
be considered simultaneously 

e To observe the students’ learning evolution within a 
didactic sequence, identifying the most relevant 
moments (progress, errors, blockages, restructurations, 
regressions, etc.) 

Adolfo Eduardo Obaya Valdivia et al. The role of educational research in teaching chemistry 

e To dispose of a model that describes the psychological 
processes implied in the students appropriation of the 
content. In other words, to have a cognitive functioning 
model that allows to formulate hypothesis regarding 
knowledge construction reflecte don the learning 
evolution. This element is key so that the interaction 
analysis overcomes the characterized description. To 
establish the interaction sequence that occurs during a 
didactic sequence, contemplating the psychological 
processes that occur in the cognitive functioning 
including the different interaction categories. 


The current panorama establishes a possible context for 
educational research in teaching chemistry since the 
dimensions and levels previously mentioned are an object of 
study that try to explain the relationships between them, 
considering the comprehension of historical conscience and 
the incorporation of scientific reasoning while empowering the 
sence of critical theory in its construction. This enhances the 
critical use of theory, highlighting the social needs for science 
popularization, diffusion and communications, tasks which are 
priorily educational. School and didactics should teach 
thinking, considering essential factors such as: curiosity, 
intuition, perception and imagination as basis for analysis and 
hypothesis construction (Burke and Onwuegbuzi,2004). 
Consequently, contrasting leads way to creativity, reality 
apprehension and knowledge appropriation to make scientific 
investigation formative processes from the most basic parts of 
the school system. In such a way, the dimension of teaching 
chemistry emphasizes diverse investigation processes in 
different school settings. As an example, the problems for 
restructuring divisions of chemical knowledge in the 
curriculum, the acknowledgment of procedures that select new 
contents in scientific investigation to be incorporated in the 
curriculum, the redefinition of science popularization 
conditions in chemistry, the processes of educational 
modernization among others were discussed. Among these 
options, one of the most interesting ones is the integrated 
teaching of chemistry that can adopt several forms and could 
be discussed further in another essay. 


Artigue, M. 2003. ;Qué se puede aprender de la investigacién 
educativa en el nivel universitario? Boletin de la Asociacion 
Matematica Venezolana vol. X, No. 2, 117-131 

Bizcarra, A.R. (Coordinador) 2009. Metodologia de la 
Investigacion Educativa. Ed. La Muralla S.A. Madrid 

Burke, J. and Onwuegbuzie, A.J. 2004. Mixed Methods Research: 
A Research Paradigm Whose Time Has Come.Educational 
Researcher, Vol. 33, No. 7, 14-26 

Epistemological, theoretical, and methodological differences. 
European Journal of Education, 48, 311-325. 

Espinoza, R. L. y Salfate, M.A. 2006. Transposicién didactica: 
una aplicacion a la Quimica. Educacion Quimica, 17 (3) 328- 

Giammatteo, L. and Obaya, A. 2018. Assessing Chemistry 
Laboratory Skills Through a Competency based Approach in 
High School Chemistry Course. Science Education 
International Volume 29, Issue 2, 103-109. 

Gomez-Moliné, M.R. y Sanmarti, N. 1996. La didactica de las 
ciencias: una necesidad, Educacion Quimica, 7, [3], 156-168. 


Gomez-Moliné, M.R. y Sanmarti, N. 2000. Reflexiones sobre el 
lenguaje de la ciencia y el aprendizaje, Educacioén Quimica, 
11, [2], 266-273. 

Lopez, G. M., Blanco, L.A. y Serrano, J.A. 2017. Valoracion de la 
utilidad de la Quimica por estudiantes de Ingenieria Mecanica: 
Efecto de una propuesta didactica. Educacioén Quimica, 28,(4) 

Obaya, A. y Delgadillo, G. 2001. La investigacion como principio 
didactico. Educacion Quimica 14, (1) 10-16 

Olguin, G. M.R. y Obaya, V.A. 2016. Desarrollo de habilidades 
de pensamiento cientifico con los elementos quimicos. 
EUTOPIA. Revista del Colegio de Ciencias y Humanidades 
para el Bachillerato. Cuarta época. Afio 9 No. 25. Julio- 
diciembre de 2016. 115-120 

Onwuegbuzie, A.J. and Collins, K.M.T. 2007. A Typology of 
Mixed Methods Sampling Designs in Social Science Research. 
The Qualitative Report Volume 12 Number 2 281-316. 

Parga, L. D. y Mora, P.W. 2014. El PCK, un espacio de 
diversidad tedrica: conceptos y experiencias unificadoras en 
relacion con la didactica de los contenidos en quimica. 
Educacion Quimica 25 (3) 332-342 

International Journal of Development Research, Vol. 09, Issue, 01, pp. 25253-25257, January, 2019 

Pérez, D.G. y Pessoa de Carvalho, A.M. 2000. Dificultades para 
la incorporacion a la ensefianza de los hallazgos de la 
investigacion e innovaciédn en didactica de las ciencias. 
Educacion Quimica11 (2) 244-251 

Schmelkes, S. 1993. Aspectos conceptuales y metodoldgicos de la 
investigacion educativa. Dimension Educativa, 1, 15-22. Julio- 

Schmelkes, S. 2001. La combinacion de estrategias cuauntitativas 
y cualitativas en la investigacion educativa: Reflexiones a 
partir de tres estudios. Revista Electronica de Investigacion 
Educativa 3, (2), 1-13 

Tojar, J.C. y Serrano, J. 2000. Etica e Investigacion Educativa. 
Revista ELectronica de Investigacion y EValuacion Educativa 
Vol 6No. 2, 2-5 

Varillas, A.E., Ramos, J.F. y Carrizo, M.A. 2005. Una propuesta 
didactica innovadora con enfoque ciencia, tecnologia y 
sociedad: el asbesto. Educacion Quimica16, (3) 450-455 

Yilmaz, K. 2013. Comparison of quantitative and qualitative 
research traditions. 

3 2 28s 2 2 2K ok