, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 213-240

Philosophy of chemistry in university chemical education: The case of models and modelling

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If chemistry is to be taught successfully, teachers must have a good subject matter knowledge (SK) of the ideas with which they are dealing, the nature of this falling within the orbit of philosophy of chemistry. They must also have a good pedagogic content knowledge (PCK), the ability to communicate SK to students, the nature of this falling within the philosophy and psychology of chemical education. Taking the case of models and modelling, important themes in the philosophy of chemistry, an interview-based study was conducted into the SK and PCK of a sample of teachers in Brazil. This paper focuses on the results of the university chemistry teacher sub-sample in that enquiry, analyses their SK and PCK, and speculates on the implications of this for the education of school teachers. Finally, it suggests approaches to the professional development of university chemistry teachers that place an emphasis on the philosophy of chemistry.