Computer simulation for teaching the structure of atoms and periodic table in secondary schools in Kenya: an action research

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Nicholas Wachira

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Fortidas Bakuza


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


Student engagement with learning is beneficial in improving conceptual understanding in chemistry. However, teaching and learning chemistry in Kenya reveals inadequate opportunity for secondary students to amply engage with learning. Traditional, teacher-centered, pedagogy is cited as the main cause of learner disengagement with abstract concepts in chemistry. This action research studied how Computer Simulation (CS) can be used to enhance teaching and learning the structure atoms and periodic table in secondary schools in Kenya through meaningful learner engagement. The study is guided by the question: How can I learn to teach the atomic structure of elements and periodic table using computer simulation? Data was collected using multiple methods such as document analysis, lesson observation, interview, and focus group discussion to allow for corroboration of findings. Findings from the study suggests that traditional, teacher-centered, pedagogy is predominantly practiced in teaching the structure of atoms and periodic table in chemistry. However, computer simulation (CS) is found to be an important intervention to the traditional practices in achieving high level student engagement with learning. Other findings include: Teachers’ must have technological-pedagogical knowledge to integrate CS in teaching and learning, both teachers and students are positive about the new experience of teaching and learning with CS, and non-supportive ICT policy remains a big challenge in implementing CS in teaching and learning. The study concludes by giving recommendations to schools and their management, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development and further areas of research.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library