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Articulating the Intrinsic Value of Chemistry

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What is intrinsically valuable about learning chemistry? This question is of natural interest to beginning chemistry students, those who teach them, and anyone concerned by chemistry’s negative image. In response, this research describes, contextualizes and evaluates the different values which have been attributed to chemistry. The theoretical framework combines Alasdair MacIntyre’s concept of ‘internal goods’ with Jere Brophy’s account of ‘content appreciation’, both emphasising the role of expertise in perceiving intrinsic value. Interpretive content analysis focuses on three sets of literature: introductory chemistry textbooks, science education research, and nature of chemistry literature. The taxonomic analysis creates a rich set of resources for chemistry educators to reclaim in communicating the value of chemistry, and draws attention to the narrowed range of values which are appealed to in educational settings.

This talk is part of the Science, Technology and Mathematics Education (STeM) series.

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