Chemistry and Education
Scientific skills are fundamental for the culture itself, the self-care, sight on issues of great social, environmental and ethical relevance for all scientists, stakeholders and common citizens. Research for an increasingly effective and inclusive teaching in all education degrees, the dissemination and the public engagement activities are therefore performed by the chemical community.
One of the research interests developed within the Chemistry Department - UniTO concerns the ways in which the chemical disciplines are taught at all school levels, from primary school to university.
Alongside the actual research, various initiatives are also active aimed at teacher training, dissemination of the research results of the department and the dissemination of cultural, disciplinary and thematic contents of the chemical field, addressed both to the general public and to students of the secondary school that must make choices about university studies to be undertaken.
The chemical discipline, like any discipline, rests on a complex system of concepts and theories that developed over time and is constantly evolving. Knowledge of the basic concepts of chemistry, of their historical origin and evolution, of their cognitive scope (which is constantly evolving) is part of the disciplinary research activity. Besides the knowledge system, the methods of construction of scientific knowledge evolve as well, being a collective enterprise governed by the sharing of contents and cognitive procedures. The new forms of communication are having a strong impact on the modality and purpose of scientific research, making reflection on these issues ever more necessary.
Chemistry, as a structured form of thought on the material world, presents philosophical and epistemological contents that are the object of research. In the Chemistry Department - UniTO, in particular, the processes of construction of scientific (chemical) knowledge are investigated, with particular interest in the relationship between material reality, scientific models, theories and laws; the basic concepts of chemistry (chemical element, mole, molecular structure, chemical equilibrium, etc.); the paradigm of complexity as a key to understanding chemical knowledge.
- The collective enterprise (Turco)
How the scientific knowledge is built (and why), what makes it reliable. Today's trends, the impact of communication technologies.
Teaching chemistry, learning chemistry, understanding chemistry: it is through these three activities that chemical knowledge is spread and transmitted within and outside the chemistry community. Each of these activities requires not only technical-disciplinary skills, but also pedagogical and didactic ones. In the Chemistry Department – UniTO several research groups are active and deal specifically with problems related to the educational transposition of the concepts of chemistry, to the development of educational sequences aimed at ensuring an effective understanding of these concepts, through the use of harmless chemical products and with reference to everyday life, to the use of the laboratory as a tool and learning environment, to the design of vertical didactic paths for teaching chemistry, to education to science in primary school and kindergarten.
Like any other aspect, digital technologies have also influenced the methods of teaching, learning and self-learning. Alongside valid tools and new platforms for teaching, new technologies have made it possible to independently access an immense and uncontrolled mass of information.
- Science and fake news (Turco)
The ability to easily make public any text without editorial scrutiny, consequent to the development of the web, has made the role of the scientists, like those of any other authority, not necessary as a cultural reference in the collective imagination. The task of the scientific community is to reflect on these issues, to disseminate and teach good practices.
Modeling software, virtual laboratories and e-learning. Computer tools available on the net or provided by publishers can support, and in some cases replace, traditional chemistry teaching practices. However, prizes and defects must be analyzed on the basis of the characteristics of the digital natives and the specific educational needs.
The Department of Chemistry carries out a dense activity of dissemination of science and chemistry, in activities of a third mission in which most of the personnel, each with its own peculiarities, is involved.
The activities carried out under the third mission can be summarized in two main strands, such as the economic exploitation of the knowledge and the cultural and social dissemination. In this context, the activity of school guidance towards secondary school students is intense, with a certain attention also to the lower levels.
- Public engagement
- Piano lauree scientifiche - Scuola di Scienze della Natura
- Progetto lauree scientifiche - Scienza e Tecnologia dei materiali
The assessment of the knowledge and skills constitutes a wide area of research for the teaching of every level and order, including the University. In parallel, the evaluation of the activities related to both teaching and research in the University is a topic of current relevance also in relation to the ministerial indications (MIUR, Anvur).
- Evaluation at the University (Operti, https://www.unito.it/ateneo/organizzazione/organi-di-ateneo/presidio-della-qualita)
The Presidio della Qualità (Quality Presidium) promotes the culture and continuous improvement of quality in the University and provides advice to the University governing bodies on quality assurance (QA) issues; in addition, it monitors the QA processes and supports the University structures in the management of the processes for the QA.
Gathering the indications of the European Parliament (2006), and in line with the National Curriculum Guidelines (MIUR 2012), the ways of assessing the skills achieved by students are proposed, based on the trend related to the "good" teaching practices