Title

Teaching industrial chemistry concepts, through activity theory approach for relevance at secondary school in Karachi

Date of Award

8-1-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)

Department

Institute for Educational Development, Karachi

Abstract

This study examined how Chemistry as a subject could be made more relevant to real world of the learners. The motivation for the study was that chemistry has been seen as an unpopular and irrelevant subject in the eyes of many school students. This is, basically, due to the complications generated by Chemistry courses and textbooks in Pakistani context that are, only in name, designed to develop students' conceptual understanding of the subject. The courses require students to learn a large volume of non-contextual scientific vocabulary and process skills, without much appreciation of, how they will apply acquired knowledge in their personal or future professional lives. The society demands to see the products of Chemistry education beyond scores and grades in the daily life of students. As a result, students are often demotivated to succeed in the classroom. The purpose of this study was to present Chemistry as a relevant subject to the student's person, profession and society. The only way to create relevance between Chemistry and contextual needs was through developing relevant curriculum with contextual needs and teaching students in such a way that they could transfer scientific knowledge, skills and attitudes acquired in their daily life practice. This study is an action research to improve upon teaching concepts of industrial Chemistry at grade IX (age 14-15 years) through activity theory (AT) approach in one of private schools of Karachi. Action research methodology is based on Aalsvoort (2004) activity theory model. The study is carried out in three cycles: each cycle consists of planning, action, operations, and reflection on products. Data are collected through interview tool, classroom observations, reflections and developing relevant curriculum with activity theory approach, stimulating the environment for actions and operations through video clips and factory model and reflecting on the results and products. Various teaching strategies and classroom organizations were used to promote students' conceptual understanding and motivation towards learning concepts of industrial Chemistry. The result of this study confirms lack of curriculum relevancy especially in contents that are usually drowned in a sea of dull and abstract in which even good students/swimmers may lose sight of the underpinning Chemistry concepts. Furthermore, this study found activity theory integrated model for relevancy of teaching concepts of industrial chemistry.

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