Learning Chemistry: Self-Efficacy, Chemical Understanding, and Graphing Skills

  • Shirly AvargilEmail author


Chemistry curriculum should account for learning in context and understanding chemistry at the macroscopic and microscopic levels: the symbol level and the process level. The Taste of Chemistry learning module, developed for high school chemistry majors (students who choose to study the advanced chemistry program in high school), focuses on food-related chemistry, emphasizes learning in context and chemical understanding, and promotes the use of graphing skills. While learning, students are exposed to metacognitive prompts related to the four chemistry-understanding levels and to graphing skills. The objectives were to investigate (a) learning chemistry in context with metacognitive and graphing prompts as it relates to three students learning outcomes: self-efficacy, chemical understanding, and graphing skills and (b) the teachers’ role in promoting these learning outcomes. Research participants included two experimental groups and one comparison group (N = 370). The first experimental group studied the module, while being exposed to the metacognitive prompts via the module and explicit metacognitive instruction from their teachers. The second experimental group studied the module with the prompts embedded in it, but without explicit metacognitive instruction from their teachers. In the comparison group, students learned topics of organic chemistry and biochemistry, which was part of the traditional syllabus.

The experimental students’ self-efficacy, chemical understanding, and graphing skills improved; the net-gains were significantly higher than that of the comparison group. These gains were due to learning in context with the metacognitive prompts. Teachers were instrumental in promoting students’ application of metacognition. This research contributes to the body of knowledge of metacognition and chemical understanding as it bridges the two domains using metacognitive prompts related to the four chemistry-understanding levels and to graphing skills.


High school Chemical education research Curriculum Assessment Food science Qualitative analysis Quantitative analysis 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

“This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.”

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Education in Science and Technology, TechnionIsrael Institute of TechnologyHaifaIsrael

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