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Dr. Robert E. Belford
The commemoration of 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry (IYC) has been heralded as a remarkable success. Throughout 2011, the IUPAC successfully linked people together, from across the globe, in recognition and celebration of chemistry's achievements and contributions. In addition, specific activities highlighting the important role of chemistry in today's world were directed at the media, policy makers, general public, school teachers, students, and industries that provided numerous opportunities for people on different continents to appreciate chemistry locally, nationally, and internationally. Although the IYC has ended, we should consider the end of 2011 as the beginning of sustainable collaborations both locally and globally for chemistry education. Therefore, there are three challenging issues that we have to ponder in order to sustain the accomplishments of the IYC. They are: (1) How can we build upon the lessons learned from the IYC? (2) What strategies can we develop to keep the momentum started from the IYC moving locally and internationally? and (3) As a member of the IUPAC, what roles and priorities should the CCE adopt in order to continue to contribute to chemistry education? Possible answers for these questions might be (1) to disseminate findings of chemical education research, and their implications for classroom practice, (2) to take advantage of chemists' and chemistry educators' involvement and expertise as well as other divisions and committees of IUPAC to generate a resource database for public use, (3) to continue developing worldwide experiments and activities to bring people together through sharing similar experiences and achieving similar goals, and (4) to build international standards for chemistry education that are applicable for developing and developed countries. Maintaining the focus on "Chemistry-Our Life, Our Future" will help people everywhere to value chemistry as a human enterprise that supports not only our present way of life but also holds the promise for improving our collective future. Improving chemistry education is at the center of this focus.
Virtual Colloquium ICCE 2012
National Taiwan Normal University, Professor
Committee on Chemistry Education, Chair
The proclamation of 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry (IYC) has been heralded as a remarkable success. Throughout 2011, the IUPAC successfully linked people together, from across the globe, in recognition and celebration of chemistry's achievements and contributions. In addition, specific activities highlighting the important role of chemistry in today's world were directed at the media, policy makers, general public, school teachers, students, and industries. These activities provided numerous opportunities for people on different continents to appreciate chemistry locally, nationally, and internationally. Although the IYC has ended, we should consider the end of 2011 as the beginning of sustainable collaborations both locally and globally for chemistry education. Therefore, there are three challenging issues that we have to ponder in order to sustain the accomplishments of the IYC. They are: (1) how can we build upon the lessons learned from the IYC to make chemistry education efforts sustainable, (2) what strategies can we develop to keep the momentum from the IYC moving locally and internationally, and (3) as a member of the IUPAC, what roles and priorities should the CCE adopt in order to continue to contribute to chemistry education? Answers to these questions include: (1) continuously develop worldwide experiments and activities to bring people together through these shared experiences and similar goals, (2) enrich the collaborative interaction between chemists and chemistry educators in developing innovative curriculum and useful resources, (3) disseminate findings from chemistry education research to motivate student learning and promote teacher professional development, and (4) build international standards for chemistry education that are applicable for developing as well as developed countries. Maintaining the focus on the IYC theme, "Chemistry-Our Life, Our Future" will help people everywhere to value chemistry as a human enterprise that supports not only our present way of life but also holds promise for improving our collective future. Improving chemistry education is at the center of this focus.
As an international organization, involving more than 50 societies in chemistry from all over the world, IUPAC has a global vision and mission to fulfill. Improving chemistry education is at the center of this vision. If globalization is our mission, what should we do to accomplish this mission? In this presentation, I not only highlight the activities conducted during the IYC but also explore what can be done specifically to promote globalization in a manner that both motivates young students and links international students, teachers, chemists, and chemistry educators together in order to extend the impact of the IYC. As a professional community, we need to work together to improve chemistry education and elicit people’s chemistry literacy for facing this century and beyond.
1. To continuously develop worldwide experiments and activities to bring people together through these shared experiences and common goals
The successful Global Water Experiment (GWE) was initiated to celebrate the IYC (see http://www.chemistry2011.org). Since launching the GWE on World Water Day in March 2011 in South Africa, 128,330 students and 2,354 teachers (as of 1 April, 2012) from over 80 countries have participated (Martinez & Sigamoney, 2012; also see the first 3 presentations of this virtual colloquium). Also, 97 countries have registered over 1,400 activities on the IYC website as of the end of 2011, including Women Sharing a Chemical Moment in Time, UNESCO-L’Oreal Prize, and in the Footsteps of Marie Curie (Sigamoney, 2012). In addition, other international activities (such as stamp and cartoon competitions presented in this virtual colloquium) are valued highly to involve international students, teachers, and public and to raise people’s appreciation of chemistry. These open a great avenue for students, researchers, and educators to interact with others, both locally and globally, to broaden their views of chemistry, and to echo the reform of learning chemistry in context. In particular, the design of these global water experiments share some basic components in order to achieve their goals across the globe, namely, easy access, obvious connection to everyday life diverse values of chemistry in contexts, gender and race free, low-cost for chemicals and equipment, and provide inquiry opportunities for all students. Through global experiments, students not only gain greater understanding about the content and values of chemistry, but they also increase their interest and motivation in learning chemistry and even the public's understanding about how chemistry plays a role in our lives. This task of involving diverse people with a variety of chemistry backgrounds poses a tremendous challenge, but it also allows global people to work together to achieve similar goals in chemistry education.
2. To disseminate findings from chemistry education research such that it motivates students and empowers teachers.
Opening more channels for teachers and students to interact with professional chemists would bolster both teaching and learning. However, many professionals in educational settings find it difficult to persuade students to choose chemistry majors. Effective incentives to correct this situation may include providing more funding for studying chemistry and developing lab skills, and more opportunities for internship experiences. As Moreau pointed out in this virtual colloquium, IUPAC has recognized the importance of encouraging and fostering the career development of young scientists around the world. Identifying and supporting students interested in science careers is a universal challenge for many countries.
With a decreasing percentage of students majoring in chemistry, a continuous effort to motivate and stimulate learners’ interest in chemistry is an inevitable action to take and a currently pressing challenge. Several possible channels to be considered include emphasizing visualization in chemistry (Mahaffy, 2012, also see the 7th presentation in this virtual colloquium), inquiry-based curricula (Krajcik & Sutherland, 2010), linking school learning with industry via collaboration between school teachers and experts in chemistry (e.g., Popularity and Relevance of Science Education for Scientific Literacy, a close cooperation with science educators from several countries sponsored by the EU), and learning chemistry in context (Parchmann, Gräsel, Baer, Nentwig, Demuth, Ralle, & the ChiK Project Group, 2006). All these approaches allow researchers and practitioners to identify what has been missing in school instruction, what has yet to be learned, and what has been achieved (Chiu, 2012).
In addition, domestic, regional, and international conferences are the common means for researchers and educators to share and distribute research findings in chemistry education particularly. For instance, the Network of Inter-Asian Chemistry Educators (NICE) was initiated by Taiwan, Korea, and Japan in 2006 and held biennially in different countries. NICE has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of participants over the past few years. Experiences in education in one country can contribute to the teaching and learning in another country. Of course, specific cultural and societal factors should be taken into account when generalizing experiences and policies from other countries. At the global level, the International Conference on Chemical Education (ICCE) sponsored by IUPAC is held biennially to allow researchers to interact and to share experiences in teaching chemistry. The IUPAC CCE is a model for how an international organization whose membership reflects diverse levels of chemistry expertise can make a significant and lasting impact and support chemistry teaching and leaning on a local and global scale.
Since school teachers tend not to attend academic conferences on a regular basis, it is the researcher's responsibility to transform research findings into practical documents in order to change the school climate. This research-based approach needs more effort by researchers. In addition, developing mutual interest in conducting research across countries is valuable in broadening ourselves, our teachers, and our students’ views about chemistry. As Chiu and Duit (2011) pointed out, international cooperation between science [including chemistry] (added by the author) educators in addressing the globalization of science education research is still a challenge and should be promoted in order to integrate the richness of different views of science [chemistry] (added by the author) education in the various cultures around the world.
Besides the activities mentioned above, two CCE projects initiated in 2004 and 2005 respectively also contributed to chemistry education worldwide. The first is Young Ambassadors for Chemistry that launched in 12 countries across different continents with students, teachers, and the general public (Information about this successful project is available from presentation 4). CCE also launched the Flying Chemists Program (FCP) initiated by Peter Atkins in 2005. Ever since, it has become one of the major projects for promoting chemistry education in less economically advantaged countries. In the past few years, the FCP visited India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Croatia, and Ethiopia and will visit Mexico and Panama in 2012. With these visits, resource persons bring expertise in chemistry education to emerging countries and address the specific needs of each country's chemistry education system.
For both YAC and FCP, the greatest challenge is how to maintain the activities and reforms in chemistry education after the resource persons leave the country. Without considerable passion and long-term commitments for promoting chemistry education by the host organizers, it is hard to conduct these activities in a sustainable manner. Although continuous support to the host countries was provided through informal means, consistent, systematic, and sustainable support and advice from the committee or from the organization may be necessary and should be considered.
Another issue (not discussed specifically in this VC) is the translation of materials to be shared globally. As identified by Cardinilla (nd), 70% of the translation of a textbook from English to Italian was correct. In other words, 30% of the text that the students used to learn chemistry was translated incorrectly. In this technological era, how do we eliminate the barrier between English and a native language so that texts and other literature and materials may be effectively disseminated? Takeuchi, Ito, and Yoshida (2001) advocated that the globalization of chemistry education can be done and should be done with the aid of the Internet under the condition that all materials disseminated via the Internet should be available in two languages: English and the first language of the user. This condition may be achieved by the effective use of machine translation. Tsaparlis (2003) addressed how incompetence of language use prevented scholars from nonwestern countries from participating in the mainstream in research. Knowing how best to disseminate chemistry knowledge in a global world is not an easy task.
3. To enrich the collaborative interaction between chemists and chemistry educators via involvement and expertise in developing innovative curriculum and useful resources
In the series of presentations comprising this virtual colloquium, several projects involved collaborations between IUPAC divisions and CCE (such as the GWE and Holden and Coplen’s periodic table of isotopes project). The future impact of CCE on chemistry education involves extending the collaboration among divisions and committees as well as with other chemistry education associations.
4. To build international standards for chemistry education that apply for developing and developed countries (an issue we must address for the future)
An educational movement in establishing curriculum standards in different countries emphasizes different disciplines and competencies depending upon the emerging needs of each country. With international assessments (such as TIMSS and PISA) showing discrepancies among countries, more and more countries are considering forming curriculum standards for students in grades K-12.
Although this was not the focus of this virtual colloquium, it is an issue we must address for the future success of chemistry education. I would like to draw your attention to some statistics that I analyzed for this discussion. These statistics are drawn from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).
Instead of using individual country as the unit of analysis, I use continent as the unit of analysis to see what patterns we have across the world. I took all the participating countries on each continent into consideration and used the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Human Development Index (HDI) as a reference to compare different continents. The results show that there are no significant differences among different continents if HDI is larger than .8 which is defined as developed countries. In other words, as long as a country is ranked as a developed country, it is not significantly different from other developed countries in science in PISA (See Table 1 below). This holds true for developing countries too. But, there is a significant difference between developed and developing countries in terms of student performance in science on the PISA which suggests that developing countries need more attention from developed countries to support their educational growth.
Table 1. Student performance on PISA 2006 science by continent (Chiu, 2012)
Similarly, across continents, we do not find significant differences among developed countries in terms of student performance on science or chemistry in TIMSS 2007 (see Table 2). This holds true for developing countries too. But, again, there are significant differences between developed and developing countries on each continent. More support in the form of resource people, supplies, and programs like the Flying Chemistry Program sponsored by IUPAC (see http://old.iupac.org/standing/cce/FCP.html), are necessary to promote and help equalize student learning outcomes and teacher instructional quality in developing countries.
Table 2. Eighth grade student performance on science and chemistry of the TIMSS 2007 by continent.
Do we need an international standard for chemistry education in order to raise the world's basic literacy and competence in chemistry? It is a question to ponder. No country wants to be marginalized, and as we ponder the future one thing is clear: the world is becoming more interdependent with the outcomes of one country having a sharp impact on the outcomes of other countries. In order to establish a good quality of life for global citizens, I believe raising the basic knowledge and skills in chemistry that an individual possesses might be one of the most powerful strategies that we can pursue. International chemistry education standards might offer a possible avenue for reaching this goal.
Figure 1 depicts potential elements of the globalization of chemistry education (Chiu, 2012). In terms of geography, Figure 1a shows the relations among countries, regions, and the world. Figure 1b shows the interaction between countries, their relations within a specific geographical region, and the center is the interaction among the countries and regions. For each region, countries might share similar cultural, societal, educational, and historical features that they could use to bridge educational experiences and expectations. Figure 1c outlines the components to be covered in the ICES. However, in considering international standards for chemistry education, we have to also consider the values, expectations as well as the limitations of each country and then find the common core literacy for all global citizens. Figure 1 proposes the directions for developing international standards for chemistry education. However, we need to keep in mind, as Fensham (2011, p.706) pointed out, “there are key questions for science education in some countries that are not issues at all in the educational systems of Western countries.” Therefore, how to find the balance between global demand and national emergence requires some wisdom on the part of our educational leaders.
Figure 1. The framework for international chemistry education standards (Chiu, 2012)
High resolution image of Figure 1 (opens in new window)
In this series of talks over the past month, we have highlighted crucial issues in chemistry education. Each presentation offers a unique perspective and contributes to chemistry education by pinpointing problems in present-day chemistry education and practice along with possible solutions. We continuously strive to raise people’s awareness of the contributions of chemistry and to promote chemistry literacy and sustainability across the globe.
Finally, I would like to show my respect to Madame Marie Curie who never regretted relinquishing her patent and who believed that science was the key to improving the quality of life for all people.
Look for the clear light of Truth;
Look for the unknown, new roads…
Even when man’s sight is keener far than now,
Divine wonder will never fail him…
Every age has its own dreams,
Leave, then, the dreams of yesterday;
You---take the torch of knowledge,
Perform a new work among the labors of the centuries
And build the palace of the future…
(Marie Curie, cited in E. Curie, 1937, p.55; cited in Chiu & Wang, 2011)
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Robert Belford, Fabienne Meyers, Liberato Cardellini, and Mustafa Sözbilir for organizing this virtual colloquium to allow people to express and share their professional opinions regarding CCE’s activities. I also extend my thankfulness to the presenters of this virtual colloquium for their contribution and effort to enrich the IYC 2011.
Chiu, M. H. (2012, July issue). Localization, regionalization, and globalization of chemistry education. Australian Journal of Education in Chemistry.
Chiu, M. H., & Duit, R. (2011). Globalization: Science education from an international perspective. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(6), 553-566.
Chiu, M. H. & Wang, N. Y. (2011). Marie Curie and science education. In M. H. Chiu, P. J. Gilmer, & D. F. Treagust (eds.), Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Madame Marie Sklodowska Curie’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry (pp. 9-39). The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
Curie, E. (1937). Madame Curie: A biography. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc.
DeBoer, G. E. (2011). The globalization of science education, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(6), 567-591.
Fensham, P. J. (2011). Globalization of science education: Comment and a commentary. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(6), 698–709.
Krajcik, J. S., & Sutherland, L. M. (2010). Supporting students in developing literacy in science. Science, 328, 456-459.
Martinez, J. G., & Sigamoney, R. (2012). The global experiment of the international year of chemistry, water: A chemical solution. Chemistry International, May-June, 14-17.
Parchmann, I., Gräsel, C., Baer, A., Nentwig, P., Demuth, R., Ralle, B., & the ChiK Project Group. (2006). Chemie im Kontext—a symbiotic implementation of a context-based teaching and learning approach. International Journal of Science Education, 28(9), 1041-1062.
Takeuchi, Y., Ito, M. M., & Yoshida, H. (2001). Strategy for globalization of chemical education based on the Internet. Pure Appl. Chem, 73(7), 1125-1135.
Tsaparlis, G. (2003). Globalisation in chemistry education. Research and Practice Chemistry Education, 4(1), 3-10.