Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 686–701 | Cite as

A Thematic Review of Studies into the Effectiveness of Context-Based Chemistry Curricula

  • Neslihan Ültay
  • Muammer ÇalıkEmail author


Context-based chemistry education aims at making connections between real life and the scientific content of chemistry courses. The purpose of this study was to evaluate context-based chemistry studies. In looking for the context-based chemistry studies, the authors entered the keywords ‘context-based’, ‘contextual learning’ and ‘chemistry education’ in well-known databases (i.e. Academic Search Complete, Education Research Complete, ERIC, Springer LINK Contemporary). Further, in case the computer search by key words may have missed a rather substantial part of the important literature in the area, the authors also conducted a hand search of the related journals. To present a detailed thematic review of context-based chemistry studies, a matrix was used to summarize the findings by focusing on insights derived from the related studies. The matrix incorporates the following themes: needs, aims, methodologies, general knowledge claims, and implications for teaching and learning, implications for curriculum development and suggestions for future research. The general knowledge claims investigated in this paper were: (a) positive effects of the context-based chemistry studies; (b) caveats, both are examined in terms of students’ attitudes and students’ understanding/cognition. Implications were investigated for practice in context-based chemistry studies, for future research in context-based chemistry studies, and for curriculum developers in context-based chemistry studies. Teachers of context-based courses claimed that the application of the context-based learning approach in chemistry education improved students’ motivation and interest in the subject. This seems to have generated an increase in the number of the students who wish to continue chemistry education at higher levels. However, despite the fact that the majority of the studies have reported advantages of context-based chemistry studies, some of them have also referred to pitfalls, i.e. dominant structure of out-of-school learning, tough nature of some chemistry topics, and teacher anxiety of lower-ability students.


Context-based approach Chemistry education Context-based curricula Thematic review 



We are glad to Dr. Barend Vlaardingerbroek from American University of Beirut, Lebanon for his kind help in language polishing.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Science Education, Faculty of EducationGiresun UniversityGiresunTurkey
  2. 2.Department of Primary Teacher Education, Fatih Faculty of EducationKaradeniz Technical UniversitySöğütlü, TrabzonTurkey

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