Science & Education

, Volume 22, Issue 7, pp 1741–1755 | Cite as

Integrating Epistemological Perspectives on Chemistry in Chemical Education: The Cases of Concept Duality, Chemical Language, and Structural Explanations

  • Ebru Kaya
  • Sibel Erduran


In this paper, we trace the work of some philosophers of chemistry to draw some implications for the improvement of chemical education. We examine some key features of chemical knowledge, and how these features are relevant for school chemistry teaching and learning. In particular, we examine Laszlo’s (Foundations of Chemistry 1:225–238, 1999) notion of concept duality, Jacob’s (HYLE–International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry 7:31–50, 2001) descriptions of chemical language and Goodwin’s (Foundations of Chemistry 10:117–127, 2008) explication of structural explanations in organic chemistry to highlight the particular ways in which chemical knowledge is structured. We use examples of textbooks and curricula to illustrate that even though the mentioned aspects of are relevant to and are covered in educational contexts, the philosophical dimensions of this coverage is absent in textbooks and curricula. The emphasis in the use of these features of chemical knowledge seems to be more on the conceptual definitions rather than on their “epistemological nature”. We argue that chemical education will be improved through the inclusion of the philosophical perspectives in chemistry teaching and learning by highlighting the specific ways in which chemical knowledge functions.


Structural Formula Deductive Reasoning Semantic Rule Chemical Education Structural Explanation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Cetin, P. S., Kaya, E., & Geban, O. (2009). ‘Facilitating conceptual change in gases concepts. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18(2), 130–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Dursun, M. F., Gulbay, I., Cetin, S., & Tek, U. (2008). Ortaogretim 9. Sinif Kimya Ders Kitabi. Istanbul: Milli Egitim Bakanligi Yayinlari.Google Scholar
  3. Dursun, M. F., Gulbay, I., Cetin, S., Tek, U., Ozkoc, F. F., & Guntut, M. (2010a). Ortaogretim 10. Sinif Kimya Ders Kitabi (2nd ed.). Istanbul: Milli Egitim Bakanligi Yayinlari.Google Scholar
  4. Dursun, M. F., Gulbay, I., Ozkoç, F. F., Tek, U., & Guntut, M. (2010b). Ortaogretim 11. Sinif Kimya Ders Kitabi. Istanbul: Milli Egitim Bakanligi Yayinlari.Google Scholar
  5. Duschl, R. A. (1990). Restructuring science education: The importance of theories and their development. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  6. Ebbing, D. D., & Gammon, S. D. (2002). General chemistry. Boston, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.Google Scholar
  7. Erduran, S. (2001). Philosophy of chemistry: An emerging field with ımplications for chemistry education. Science & Education, 10(6), 581–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Erduran, S. (2005). Applying the philosophical concept of reduction to the chemistry of water: Implications for chemical education. Science & Education, 14(2), 161–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Erduran, S. (2006). Promoting ideas, evidence and argument in initial science teacher training. School Science Review, 87(321), 45–50.Google Scholar
  10. Erduran, S. (2007). Breaking the law: Promoting domain-specificity in science education in the context of arguing about the periodic law in chemistry. Foundations of Chemistry, 9(3), 247–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Erduran, S., & Scerri, E. (2003). The nature of chemical knowledge and chemical education. In J. Gilbert, O. de Jong, R. Justi, D. Treagust, & J. van Driel (Eds.), Chemical education: Towards research-based practice. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  12. Erduran, S., Aduriz-Bravo, A., & Mamlok-Naaman, R. (2007). Developing epistemologically empowered teachers: Examining the role of philosophy of chemistry in teacher education. Science & Education, 16(9–10), 975–989.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Erduran, S., & Jimenez-Aleixandre, M. P. (Eds.). (2008). Argumentation in science education: Perspectives from classroom-based research. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  14. Erturk, A. T., & Karahan, A. (2009). Ortaogretim 12. Sinif Kimya Ders Kitabi. Istanbul: Milli Egitim Bakanligi Yayinlari.Google Scholar
  15. Goodwin, W. M. (2008). Structural formulas and explanation in organic chemistry. Foundations of Chemistry, 10, 117–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Harrison, A., & Treagust, D. (2000). Learning about atoms, molecules and chemical bonds: A case study of multiple model use in grade 11 chemistry. Science Education, 84, 352–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jacob, C. (2001). Interdependent operations in chemical language and practice. HYLE–International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, 7(1), 31–50.Google Scholar
  18. Kelly, G., & Takao, A. (2002). Epistemic levels in argument: An analysis of university oceanography students’ use of evidence in writing. Science Education, 86(3), 314–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Laszlo, P. (1999). Circulation of concepts. Foundations of Chemistry, 1, 225–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lemke, J. (1990). Talking science: Language, learning and values. NJ: Ablex, Norwood.Google Scholar
  21. MEB. (2007). Ortaögretim Kimya Dersi Ogretim Programi (9., 10., 11. ve 12. siniflar). Ankara, Turkiye: Milli Egitim Bakanligi.Google Scholar
  22. MEC. (2007). Science curriculum. Santiago, Chile: Ministry of Education.Google Scholar
  23. Metcalfe, J., & Shimamura, A. P. (1994). Metacognition: Knowing about knowing. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  24. National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  25. Niaz, M. (2000). A rational reconstruction of the kinetic molecular theory of gases based on history and philosophy of science and its implications for chemistry textbooks. Instructional Science, 28, 23–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Partington, J. R. (1957). A short history of chemistry (3rd ed.). New York: MacMillan.Google Scholar
  27. Psarros, N. (1996). Die chemische reaktion als kalkuel. In P. Janich & N. Psarros (Eds.), Die Sprache der Chemie – 2. Erlenmeyer-Kolloquium zur Philosophie der Chemie. Wuerzburg: Koningshausen & Neumann.Google Scholar
  28. Scerri, E. (1996). Stephen brush, the periodic table and the nature of chemistry. In P. Janich & N. Psarros (Eds.), 2nd Erlenmeyer Colloquium on the Philosophy of Chemistry. Marburg University, Wurtzburg: Koningshausen & Neumann.Google Scholar
  29. Scerri, E. (1997). Are chemistry and philosophy miscible? Chemical Intelligencer, 3, 44–46.Google Scholar
  30. Scerri, E. R., & McIntryre, L. (1997). The case for the philosophy of chemistry. Synthese, 111, 213–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. van Brakel, J. (2000). Philosophy of chemistry. Leuven: Leuven University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Secondary Science and Mathematics EducationMiddle East Technical UniversityAnkaraTurkey
  2. 2.Graduate School of EducationUniversity of BristolBristolUK

Personalised recommendations