Thinking about practical work in chemistry: teachers' considerations of selected practices for the macroscopic experience
This study explores teachers’ thinking about practical work, especially in regards to the types of practical work they privilege in their teaching of chemistry to support students in their learning. It seeks to investigate the view that practical work, especially the type of practical work selected, is unthinkingly and uncritically selected by chemistry teachers. The study is conducted at the end of a five-year professional development initiative associated with the implementation of a new curriculum chemistry initiative for Grade 11 and 12 advocating for a ‘tetrahedral’ orientation to the teaching of chemistry emphasizing the ‘practical’ experience on the ‘macroscopic’ level as one of four essential dimensions of the chemistry learning experience. Responses indicate that teachers’ thinking is informed by pragmatic, philosophical and psychological considerations; the latter largely informed by an understanding of the importance of ‘multi-level’ chemistry experiences encouraged by the ‘tetrahedral’ model.