ICT for chemistry education: A design research approach
University of Helsinki, Finland
The main aim of the present study was to develop information and communication technology (ICT) based chemistry education. The goals for the study were to support meaningful chemistry learning, research-based teaching and diffusion of ICT innovations. These goals were used as guidelines that form the theoretical framework for this study. This Doctoral Dissertation is based on eight-stage research project that included three design researches. These three design researches were scrutinized as separate case studies in which the different cases were formed according to different design teams: i) one researcher was in charge of the design and teachers were involved in the research process, ii) a research group was in charge of the design and students were involved in the research process, and iii) the design was done by student teams, the research was done collaboratively, and the design process was coordinated by a researcher.
The research projects were conducted using mixed method approach, which enabled a comprehensive view on education design. In addition, the three central areas of design research: problem analysis, design solution and design process were included in the research, which was guided by the main research questions formed according to these central areas: 1) design solution: what kind of elements are included in ICT-based learning environments that support meaningful chemistry learning and diffusion of innovation, 2) problem analysis: what kind of new possibilities the designed learning environments offer for the support of meaningful chemistry learning, and 3) design process: what kind of opportunities and challenges does collaboration bring to the design of ICT-based learning environments? The main research questions were answered according to the analysis of the survey and observation data, six designed learning environments and ten design narratives from the three case studies. Altogether 139 chemistry teachers and teacher students were involved in the design processes. The data was mainly analysed by methods of qualitative content analysis.
The first main result from the study give new information on the meaningful chemistry learning and the elements of ICT-based learning environment that support the diffusion of innovation, which can help in the development of future ICT-education design. When the designed learning environment was examined in the context of chemistry education, it was evident that an ICT-based chemistry learning environment supporting the meaningful learning of chemistry motivates the students and makes the teacher s work easier. In addition, it should enable the simultaneous fulfilment of several pedagogical goals and activate higher-level cognitive processes. The learning environment supporting the diffusion of ICT innovation is suitable for Finnish school environment, based on open source code, and easy to use with quality chemistry content.
According to the second main result, new information was acquired about the possibilities of ICT-based learning environments in supporting meaningful chemistry learning. This will help in setting the goals for future ICT education. After the analysis of design solutions and their evaluations, it can be said that ICT enables the recognition of all elements that define learning environments (i.e. didactic, physical, technological and social elements). The research particularly demonstrates the significance of ICT in supporting students motivation and higher-level cognitive processes as well as versatile visualization resources for chemistry that ICT makes possible. In addition, research-based teaching method supports well the diffusion of studied innovation on individual level.
The third main result brought out new information on the significance of collaboration in design research, which guides the design of ICT education development. According to the analysis of design narratives, it can be said that collaboration is important in the execution of scientifically reliable design research. It enables comprehensive requirement analysis and multifaceted development, which improves the reliability and validity of the research. At the same time, it sets reliability challenges by complicating documenting and coordination, for example.
In addition, a new method for design research was developed. Its aim is to support the execution of complicated collaborative design projects. To increase the reliability and validity of the research, a model theory was used. It enables time-pound documenting and visualization of design decisions that clarify the process. This improves the reliability of the research. The validity of the research is improved by requirement definition through models. This way learning environments that meet the design goals can be constructed. The designed method can be used in education development from comprehensive to higher level. It can be used to recognize the needs of different interest groups and individuals with regard to processes, technology and substance knowledge as well as interfaces and relations between them. The developed method has also commercial potential. It is used to design learning environments for national and international market.
Department of Chemistry
University of Helsinki
ISBN 978-952-10-7291-8 (PDF)