Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Faculty

Education and Arts

First Advisor

Professor Mark Hackling

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Karen Murcia

Abstract

The quality of the teaching and learning of chemistry in Nigeria is of great concern to parents, teachers, and students and has been tied to various factors such as a lack of teaching resources, learning materials and well qualified teachers, large class sizes and poor funding. This resulted in poor student performance and lack of interest in chemistry. Also, learning chemistry concepts tends to be by rote and memorising of content, and as such, students do not perceive learning chemistry as relevant to their lives. These issues motivated the Researcher to explore how teaching and learning of chemistry could be reformed in low resource Nigerian secondary schools. This study focussed on enhancing teachers‘ pedagogical knowledge and beliefs about using multiple representations in chemistry education through a professional learning program. Participating teachers attended a series of professional learning workshops on how to construct, interpret and use multiple representations to teach chemistry concepts in ways that more actively engage students in learning. The study employed a mixed method approach that included descriptive and interpretive methods. Forty senior secondary chemistry teachers completed a questionnaire to gather background data about difficulties of teaching chemistry effectively and their existing teaching practice and beliefs. Fifteen of these teachers then participated in three days of professional learning workshops and three of the participating teachers at the workshop were the subjects of a case study to evaluate the impact of the professional learning on their practice and beliefs. Students also completed a questionnaire about their experiences of learning chemistry and some students in case study classes participated in focus group discussions The research involved both qualitative and quantitative methods. The qualitative data were sourced from teacher interviews, student focus group discussions and direct classroom observation. Quantitative data, on the other hand, were collected through questionnaires administered to both participating teachers and students. The mixed data sources were triangulated to ensure confirmability of findings The study enhanced the teaching of the rate of reactions and collision theory, and water pollution and solubility concepts by using various student constructed representations such as concept maps, particulate representations, graphs, role-plays, flowcharts, and 3D physical models. The professional development intervention impacted on the teachers‘ beliefs about the nature of effective teaching and learning of chemistry. The study also enriched teachers‘ pedagogical content knowledge for actively engaging students in constructing their own representations. As an outcome from the project, a professional learning module has been developed that can be used to enhance the teaching and learning of chemistry in low resource Nigerian schools. In addition, new knowledge has been produced in relation to the to the use of multiple representations for effective chemistry teaching and learning in schools with limited resources.

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