Teachers can capitalize on the importance of chemistry in everyday life to engage their students. Teachers should follow through with opportunities for students to actively explore and struggle with new concepts in a way that allows them to embrace three-dimensional learning.
To motivate students and deepen their understanding of chemistry, instructors need to plan thoughtful lessons in advance and establish clear learning goals. Allowing students to reflect on their knowledge complemented by effective questioning from the instructor helps them solidify concepts.
Planning Is Crucial
Advanced planning is crucial for active student engagement. As guided by local and/or state curriculum guidelines, teachers should decide on the conceptual learning goals, with focus on chemical principles and concepts within the core ideas in chemistry.
Spiraling the curriculum (building on and making connections to what students have already learned) encourages student participation and understanding. Making the material relevant to students’ lives will also promote engagement in their learning.1
Teachers should highlight guiding questions at the beginning of each lesson to focus the attention of both teachers and students on the key learning objectives for the lesson. This pedagogical approach fosters participation and inclusion of learning via the three dimensions.
Several lesson formats such as guided inquiry, modeling, and investigating a problem promote deeper understanding by students.
Other Appropriate Formats
Other effective lesson formats appropriate for some topics in chemistry include role playing, manipulation of concepts via simulations, and differentiated instruction. Cognitive science discourages “teaching as telling,” therefore careful planning is necessary to avoid this pitfall. If a lecture format is decided to be the most effective way to teach a concept, allow students to preview the information and provide them in advance with organizers to maximize participation and promote student understanding.