Chapter 11: Problems and Problem Solving in the Light of Context-based Chemistry
Published:17 May 2021
K. Broman, in Problems and Problem Solving in Chemistry Education: Analysing Data, Looking for Patterns and Making Deductions, ed. G. Tsaparlis, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2021, ch. 11, pp. 253-278.
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To achieve higher-order thinking and meaningful deep learning, problem solving is fundamental for students to master. If one wants to make students engaged in their own learning and their problem-solving process, interesting and relevant tasks are a fruitful way to increase students’ engagement. In this chapter, problems and problem solving are discussed emanating from context-based learning approaches, where open-ended problems focusing on higher-order thinking, and not merely recall of memorised factual knowledge, are explored. During two teacher conferences, Swedish chemistry teachers suggested contexts they thought their students would find interesting and relevant. These topic-related contexts, e.g., chocolate, doping, and dietary supplement, have been applied when designing ten everyday life, open-ended, context-based chemistry problems. Upper secondary students (n = 40) have worked with the problems and their responses from interviews have been analysed. The chapter discusses how to enhance student interest and perceived relevance in chemistry, and how students’ learning can be improved through the use of open-ended, context-based chemistry problems that demand higher-order thinking.