Using self-study to explore the teaching of topics perceived to be difficult by students in a high school chemistry classroom
Date of Award
Master of Education (MEd)
Institute for Educational Development, Karachi
This study describes best practices followed in my own classroom while teaching difficult concepts of organic chemistry to twelve grade students at a private high school in Pakistan using self-study research. The focus of the study is two difficult topics identified in literature and during my own teaching learning experiences including stability of carbocation and Isomerism. This self-study explores the best practices of teaching of topics perceived to be difficult by students using a relatively new genre of research. As mentioned by Loughran (2007) self-study scholars are interested in the resolution of current problems and in the achievement of short and long-term educational reformation. The main purpose of the study is my intrinsic motivation of improving my own classroom teaching. I am attracted towards self-study approach because I want to know more about myself as a teacher. Secondly, the identification of organic chemistry as a problem area in chemistry in Pakistan and elsewhere provides the rationale for this self-study. Moreover, it is very important for teachers to explore their own best practices that enhance student’s learning within their own classrooms and self-interactions. The discourse about best practices will help other teachers to learn what works best for them. The data collection procedures for this study involved my own reflective journal and my own teaching portfolio consisting of lesson plans, teaching resources and student’s reflection about teaching. The analysis of the data involved on going analysis of my reflective notes, critical analysis of the reflective journal and analysis of the student’s reflections using content analysis and method of constant comparison. The major findings of the study include an overarching theme of emotional pedagogy. It was found the emotional aspect of pedagogy needs to be fully understood and incorporated within whatever is taught and specially the difficult topics. Moreover, it was also revealed that teacher’s attitude towards a topic actually become a stimulus for student’s learning. It was found that students feel while they learn. So the pedagogies that are planned for teaching must involve both the aspects of student’s thinking and student’s feelings. Another very important finding about self-study is about using informal pedagogies such as going out of classroom settings also creates enabling environment for the student’s to grasp abstract and difficult concepts in a better way which actually decrease the anxiety among students and fear pertaining to the topic itself. However, a key finding of the self-study is improving the class ecology. The class ecology includes establishing a positive relationship between students and the topics prior to teach them formally. The relationship building phase involve sharing the examples from their own context as sharing examples from their own context will actually help to minimize the alien image of the topics. Finally, the study concluded with the idea of using contextually driven and widespread pedagogy for teaching abstract and topics perceived to be difficult by students as the students identified few very simple activities as best practices. It is very important to establish a positive relationship between students and the topics prior to teach them formally. The relationship building phase involve sharing the examples from their own context as sharing examples from their own context will actually help to minimize the alien image of the topics. Self-study is an effort to bring my own classroom on the bigger platform and present my own classroom for critique from wider community of chemistry teachers. It is an effort for discourse aimed at progress.
Kanwal, M. (2017). Using self-study to explore the teaching of topics perceived to be difficult by students in a high school chemistry classroom (Unpublished master's dissertation). Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan.