Teaching catalysis as a means to enhance scientific literacy amongst chemistry students in Dutch secondary education - An explorative investigation
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In order to develop scientific literacy, students should be encountered with relevant teaching material that is true to nature to the field of practice as it is today. Comparing a conceptual framework with an analysis of current Dutch teaching methods in secondary chemistry education showed that an incoherence has occurred between the fragmented and thinly approach to the concept of catalysis relative to the important factor it plays in the field of research. In an attempt to minimalize the mismatch between these aspects, prototypical educational material on the fundamental concepts of different types of catalysts has been developed and tested in a design based research in natural classroom setting. Using the jigsaw method, students were assigned to write an advisory report stating if either a heterogeneous-, homogeneous- or biocatalyst was most suitable to be used in the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide. The reports consisted of statements regarding one of five catalytic aspects: activity; availability; safety; stability and recovery, written in the style of Toulmin’s model of argumentation. Along with these statements, written answers on questions in the module and a short interview were used for qualitative data processing by means of open coding. Achieved learning outcomes were drawn up and compared to the intended outcomes. The module was found to be effective in developing conceptual understanding around the aspect of activity. Although discovering some misconceptions of several groups interpreting the following statement the wrong way around, most groups made correct statements such that a catalyst is most suitable to be used if it decreases more of the initial activation energy of the reaction. Though other aspects did not result to the intended outcomes, the exploratory module could be a useful start to a catalysis centralized approach which enables students to gain an in-depth conceptual understanding of the domain of catalysis and thereby becoming more scientific literate.