(2023) Chemistry Teacher International. 5, 2, p. 107-111 Abstract
An understanding of how students learn chemistry and what can support better chemistry learning is a research field that has continuously developed during the last 50 years. Chemistry education researchers study how different teaching strategies either support or inhibit chemistry learning. They study the role of models and the process of modeling in chemistry learning and teaching. They examine ways in which technology can be integrated into chemistry teaching to surmount the difficulties associated with learning abstract chemistry concepts, which was recently demonstrated during the Covid-19 pandemic. They look for assessment approaches that can guide teaching, reflect goals, and promote learning of scientific concepts and skills. These studies, which enhance our understanding of learning and teaching chemistry, should be part of chemistry teachers toolbox and support their professional development. However, these studies seldom reach teachers and therefore are usually not put into practice as much as they should. In this special issue we aim to bridge this gap and to bring the contemporary studies in chemistry education, which were presented in the 15 ECRICE 2022 conference, the European Conference on Research in Chemical Education, which was held at the Weizmann Institute of Science in July 2022, to the international community of chemistry teachers. This collection of papers presents six contemporary issues in chemistry education research: teaching strategies, models and modeling, technology for chemistry teaching and learning, development of student skills, personalization of chemistry teaching for including a variety of students in the chemistry classroom, and finally, assessment, whichis an essential component of any learning process.
(2023) Amplifying Informal Science Learning. Diamond J. & Rosenfeld S.(eds.). 1st edition ed. New York: . p. 182-192 Abstract
This essay reviews the literature relating to the characteristics and learning outcomes of educational escape rooms (EsRms), in general, and presents the work of a research and development group devoted to the design, implementation, and research of chemistry escape rooms (ChEsRms), in particular. The administrative and pedagogical dimensions of recreational, informal, and formal EsRms are compared. A consensus emerges from the literature that educational EsRms are highly appealing to both students and teachers. The different learning outcomes can be classified in terms of affective outcomes, general skills, and content-specific knowledge and skills. The essay presents the research and development of six ChEsRms for different topics in the high-school chemistry curriculum, in three variations – mobile, do-it-yourself, and virtual – and discusses several design challenges, such as balancing the tension between maintaining a game-like atmosphere of informal learning while facilitating student learning. Research findings on student and teacher outcomes relating to the ChEsRms are summarized, leading to a four-stage implementation model that may contribute to teachers' willingness to invest their time and effort in these environments that bridge between formal and informal science learning.
"chemistry, climate and the skills in between": Mapping cognitive skills in an innovative program designed to empower future citizens to address global challenges(2023) Chemistry Teacher International. 5, 2, p. 143-154 Abstract
One of the primary objectives of an education system is to prepare students for their adult lives by imparting them with the requisite knowledge, qualifications, and skills that will enable them to confront future challenges effectively. A whitepaper published by the Israeli Ministry of Education titled "The Graduate's Image"stresses the importance of incorporating specific skills into the school curriculum. However, there is a lack of educational programs that can transform teaching skills into actual practice. In light of this conclusion, we developed the program "Chemistry, Climate & the Numbers in Between"to foster these skills and produce graduates with the ability to adopt a critical approach and a well-informed perspective toward the world. In this paper, we delineated the cognitive skills developed in the program. The results indicate that innovative program can be utilized to integrate several important skills into a chemistry lesson. The program has the potential to equip and empower future citizens to address and tackle global challenges while utilizing cognitive skills using chemistry knowledge. However, it is important to note that learning in this way requires much more time than a regular lesson does and requires a significant commitment and investment from the teacher.
Curriculum development for student agency on sustainability issues: An exploratory study(2022) Frontiers in education (Lausanne). 7, 871102. Abstract
Despite unprecedented global challenges to the environment, research show that many young people are pessimistic about their ability to address these challenges. This paper explores one approach designed to guide middle-school teachers and their students to develop and practice agency about sustainability issues: via a curriculum that challenges students to solve problems by analyzing real-world data and developing scientific arguments, as a basis for engaging in activism. The paper begins with an overview of the United Nation's Agenda 2030, its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the related aims of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), and a review of what is meant by student agency. Next, the goals and design features of a curricular initiative, "Speak to Me in Numbers," are presented with a brief presentation of two units, each based on a different SDG. The paper's research questions are (1) How were the design features of the curriculum perceived by the teachers? and (2) What were the preliminary outcomes of the curriculum in terms of student and teacher argumentation skills and student activism? To address these questions, we present an exploratory study: observations and comments from in-service teachers and participating students regarding preliminary outcomes of the curriculum that might be related to the development of student agency. In our concluding discussion, based on these findings and relevant literature, we suggest that a promising pedagogy to strengthen student agency on sustainability issues is a data-driven pedagogy that focuses on the development of scientific argumentation, mathematical thinking and activism.
What can be learned from lecturers’ knowledge and self-efficacy for online teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic to promote online teaching in higher education(2022) PLoS ONE. 17, 10, e0275459. Abstract
The experience of graduate degree lecturers in the natural sciences when they switched to online teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic is described. The shift to online teaching throughout the pandemic provided an opportunity to evaluate how lecturers integrate technology into their teaching and what they need to improve their remote teaching. This study used a twofold perspective of TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) and self-efficacy in online education. Its data were derived from pre-and post-questionnaires, comprising closed and open-ended questions, given at the start and end of the semester. We found that lecturers focused on learning and applying technological and techno-pedagogical knowledge but paid less attention to the integration of three components: technology, pedagogy, and scientific content. Although no statistically significant differences in lecturers’ perceived self-efficacy was found between the start and the end of the semester, at the end of the semester we found a statistically significant correlation between the variables involved in building self-efficacy in online teaching: (1) satisfaction with online teaching and the belief that (2) technology promotes teaching, student interactions, participation, and engagement. Our results enabled us to identify the knowledge aspects that lecturers implemented initiatively and to better understand what aspects required more professional development training. In addition, the results emphasized the importance of developing the lecturers’ self-efficacy for online teaching. These insights can help to improve and enhance online teaching in higher education.
(2022) Journal of Chemical Education. 99, 10, p. 3502-3509 Abstract
Chemical escape rooms (ChEsRms) are educational games in which students use their brain, chemical knowledge, intuition, and a bit of luck to solve a mystery. At the Weizmann Institute, we have developed ChEsRms that are implemented by teachers in their classes. Since the COVID-19 pandemic stopped all the educational activities that took place in physical space, we decided to design a virtual ChEsRm (VChEsRm) that is fully conducted in digital space. We describe the design principles that characterize the VChEsRm and present the students' and teachers' perceptions of the VChEsRm and how it differs from the ChEsRm. We describe "The Masked Scientist", a VChEsRm in which students must identify a scientist using their knowledge of basic topics in the chemistry syllabus: the model of the atom, radioactivity, and the periodic table. This VChEsRm has added values, a connection to history, human rights, and sustainability, as well as interesting and surprising chemical facts related to everyday life. Since it is conducted in virtual space, it could also include experiments, procedures, and materials that are dangerous and therefore forbidden in a physical ChEsRm or that could even change the course of history. Importantly, this 90 min activity includes the VChEsRm (9 puzzles) and a 45 min follow-up session that deals with the ideas behind the puzzles. It was translated from Hebrew to Arabic and English; therefore, high school and general chemistry teachers around the world can easily use the VChEsRm in their class after reading this paper by clicking on the link.
(2020) Journal of Chemical Education. 97, 9, p. 3278-3284 Abstract
In this Communication paper we describe how a research-based approach was applied in Israel to support high-school chemistry teachers, who continued to teach using technology during the COVID-19 pandemic. Within the TPACK (technological pedagogical content knowledge) framework for teachers’ knowledge in technological environments, we developed a questionnaire for chemistry teachers, with the goal to reveal the difficulties they encountered, their needs, and their means for sharing their knowledge, materials, and teaching strategies for online teaching. On the basis of the analysis of the collected data, we provided a research-based response that focused on the teachers’ needs when using technology to teach chemistry. Teachers’ needs, in terms of their knowledge, skills, and means of support, which were identified in the research and the activities that were developed in order to address them, are presented. We emphasized the research-based process that was applied to address teachers’ needs during the pandemic.
(2020) Engaging Learners with Chemistry. Apotheker J. & Simon S.(eds.). p. 135-153 Abstract
The Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel provides several programs, both for school students and teachers, to obtain insights and learn about modern research and analytical techniques. This chapter will provide an overview of three different programs and explore the approaches and their influence on the participating students (or teachers). The different programs differ in their goals and target population: religious students with no chemistry background, chemistry teachers and gifted students. The programs length varied from a two-day experience, two weeks in a research lab, or a year and eight months in a research lab for gifted students. We provide research results that helped us realize the different contributions of each program to the participants. Including three different programs in the same chapter provides the reader with different approaches of introducing students and teachers to active research chemistry laboratories that eventually support the outreach efforts of the research institute along with their educational contribution.
(2020) Journal of Chemical Education. 97, 1, p. 132-136 Abstract
This year (2019) represents the 150th year since the discovery of the periodic table of the elements (PTOE). In honor of this important event, we designed a PTOE chemical escape room (called ChEsRm) that is suitable for middle and high school chemistry students. The main idea behind this ChEsRm is that it is relatively easy and inexpensive for teachers to build in order to introduce the activity into as many chemistry classrooms as possible. The puzzles of ChEsRm include interesting facts regarding the elements, their every day use, and their properties, as well as the subatomic particles. Some involve actual experiments and other nonlaboratory activities. Participants are asked to solve a mystery: finding the cause of a mysterious death. Although most escape rooms use locks and keys, in this case the mechanism used to reveal the solution is different and more flexible. Here we provide a detailed description of all the puzzles and explain how to operate the escape room in a school lab.
Thou shall not try to speak in the Facebook language: Students' perspectives regarding using Facebook for chemistry learning(2017) Computers and Education. 114, p. 69-78 Abstract
Facebook is the most commonly used Social Network Site (SNS) in the world. In this paper we explore students' attitudes towards the use of SNSs as a platform for learning chemistry and provide recommendations based on students' preferences regarding what should be done in the Facebook groups and what the teachers should not do (Thou shall nots) in an educational Facebook group with their students. We evaluated the extent to which students use SNSs in general and their attitudes toward the presence of a medium for learning chemistry in their SNS in particular. We found that the active Facebook groups for learning chemistry are perceived overall as a contributing experience for students' learning, and there was a positive correlation between the chemistry learning activity in the groups and the attitudes of students toward using Facebook groups for learning chemistry. Both parameters have gradually increased over the two-year study period.
Assessing Attitudes about Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI): The Development and Use of a Questionnaire(2017) Sisyphus - Journal of Education. 5, 3, p. 122-156 Abstract
The purpose of this article is to trace the development, validation and use of a questionnaire for evaluating teacher and student attitudes regarding Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). RRI is a framework, developed by the European Union, which provides general standards to guide the development of trust and confidence of the public regarding advances in science and technology, and the development of their participation in these advances. The article traces the development of the RRI framework and focuses on its educational component, whose goal is to sensitize teachers and students into "RRI-based thinking" about past and current scenarios regarding the development of science and technology advances. The use of the RRI questionnaire is demonstrated through the presentation of teacher and student data taken before and after the implementation of RRI-based modules, developed in the EU-funded Irresistible Project. Based on this work, we suggest that the RRI questionnaire can be used to assess the development of attitudes regarding RRI across diverse populations of teachers, students, scientists, consumers and other members of the general public.
(2017) Education and Information Technologies. 22, p. 697-724 Abstract
The goal of this research was to examine how Israeli chemistry teachers at high school level use Facebook groups to facilitate learning. Two perspectives were used: Teachers' TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) and the self-efficacy beliefs of chemistry teachers for using CLFG (chemistry learning Facebook groups). Three different case studies were chosen and qualitative and quantitative research tools were used to learn about the teachers' self-efficacy beliefs and knowledge. More specifically, a validated questionnaire for measuring teachers' self-efficacy beliefs for using Facebook and for integrating Facebook into teaching was developed. We show that the initial beliefs (not based on a real acquaintance of Facebook) were replaced by more realistic efficacy-beliefs after the teachers started to work with the CLFG and that the technological support provided to each teacher, together with their mastery experience, supported the development of strong self-efficacy beliefs regarding the use of CLFG. Teachers' TPACK was investigated by analyzing their interviews and the interactions in their CLFG. We found that the notion regarding what constitutes learning in the CLFG had not changed during the experiment but rather, the teachers knew better how they can facilitate this leaning. In addition they better integrated links to videos and visualizations that supported understanding abstract chemistry concepts. Interestingly, the intervention that was conducted did not influence teachers' perceptions of learning; however, it was found to serve as an additional tool for supporting their self-efficacy beliefs by providing vicarious experience for the teachers. We therefore recommend performing a longer intervention in the future.
Introducing Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) into the secondary school chemistry classroom: the irresistible project(2017) Daruna - Scientific, Educational & Literary Journal. 44, p. 36-43 Abstract
(2016) Global Perspectives of Nanoscience and Engineering Education. p. 171-194 Abstract
The internet has influenced all aspects of modern society, yet likely none more than education-opening new possibilities for how, where, and when we learn. Nanoscience and nanotechnology have developed over a similar time frame as the rapid growth of the internet and thus the use of the internet for nanoscience education serves as an interesting paradigm for internet-enabled education in general. In this chapter we give an overview of use of internet in nanoeducation, first in terms of available resources, then by describing the technological, philosophical, and pedagogical approaches. In order to illustrate the concepts, we describe as example a for-credit nanoscience curriculum which the authors developed recently as part of an international team.
(2016) Journal of Science Education and Technology. 25, 1, p. 62-76 Abstract
We examined how social network (SN) groups contribute to the learning of chemistry. The main goal was to determine whether chemistry learning could occur in the group discourse. The emphasis was on groups of students in the 11th and 12th grades who learn chemistry in preparation for their final external examination. A total of 1118 discourse events were tallied in the different groups. We analyzed the different events that were found in chemistry learning Facebook groups (CLFGs). The analysis revealed that seven types of interactions were observed in the CLFGs: The most common interaction (47 %) dealt with organizing learning (e.g., announcements regarding homework, the location of the next class); learning interactions were observed in 22 % of the posts, and links to learning materials and social interactions constituted about 20 % each. The learning events that were ascertained underwent a deeper examination and three different types of chemistry learning interactions were identified. This examination was based on the theoretical framework of the commognitive approach to learning (Sfard in Thinking as communicating. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2008), which will be explained. The identified learning interactions that were observed in the Facebook groups illustrate the potential of SNs to serve as an additional tool for teachers to advance their students' learning of chemistry.
QUESTIONING BEHAVIOR OF STUDENTS IN THE INQUIRY CHEMISTRY LABORATORY: DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SECTORS AND GENDERS IN THE ISRAELI CONTEXT(2015) International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education. 13, p. 705-732 Abstract
The present research is part of a longitude research study regarding the questioning behavior of students in the inquiry chemistry laboratory in Israel. We found that students who were involved in learning chemistry by the inquiry method ask more and higher-level questions. However, throughout the years, we have observed that differences between the two groups of students, control and the inquiry, have been reduced. The results of our study indicated that the gap between the Jewish and Arab students regarding their questioning ability is minor and inconsistent. If we assume that the source of this difference lies in the culture and different standards for teachers' qualifications in the two sectors, our current results suggested that the differences between chemistry teachers in the two sectors are now diminished. Teachers from both sectors utilized the inquiry program as part of their teaching repertoire, and the students in the two sectors learned the inquiry skill of asking questions.
Can You Tube it? Providing chemistry teachers with technological tools and enhancing their self-efficacy beliefs(2013) Chemistry Education Research and Practice. 14, 3, p. 269-285 Abstract
The goal of this research was to examine the change in the skills, Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) and self-efficacy beliefs of chemistry teachers regarding video editing and using YouTube videos in high-school chemistry lessons, as a result of a professional development program that focused on editing YouTube videos and the accompanying teaching pedagogy. Sixteen experienced chemistry teachers participated in a professional development course regarding video editing skills and the use of videos in chemistry teaching in Israel. Research tools consisted of (1) a pre-post questionnaire, (2) interviews with teachers, (3) an analysis of the videos they edited (which were part of the course assignment), and (4) follow-up interviews conducted ten months after the end of the course. It was found that teachers improved their skills and developed a unique TPACK that combines videos with chemistry teaching needs. Self-efficacy beliefs were found to be high for most of the teachers: they all trusted in their ability to integrate videos in their chemistry teaching but not all of them were confident in their video editing skills.