Bedales Chemistry teacher awarded RSC Research Fellowship
Bedales chemistry teacher Liz Stacy has been awarded a prestigious Chemistry Teacher Research Fellowship for 2019 by the Chemical Education Research Group of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).
The Fellowship will see Liz conduct research into whether the teaching of mole calculations over three years as now practised by Bedales, rather than as the content of a single topic as currently recommended by exam boards, leads to a deeper understanding of this keystone concept. Bedales teachers are adamant that the school’s approach is bearing fruit, and hope Liz’s research will be of use not only to Bedales but also to chemistry teachers in other schools via resources to be made available through the RSC Learn Chemistry website.
The issue is an important one. Head of Sciences Emily Seeber explains: “Once students grasp the concept of a mole, many chemical concepts fall into place, and students can view the subject from an entirely new perspective. This is why pedagogical research into ways of helping students to master the mole is so critical in chemistry teaching.”
Liz’s research will begin with a literature review of student difficulties and perceptions with mass-mole calculations, and problem-solving using moles. She will then compare the results with the understanding and experiences of Bedales students to establish whether, and when, the school’s approach to teaching moles has had a positive impact. Results will then help Liz to develop the new teaching resources, which will be used at the most appropriate time to help students overcome any perceived difficulties.
Liz says of her project: “Academic achievement is important, but so too is the ability to be able to relate to people and communicate complex ideas with clarity and compassion. Innovative teaching lies at the heart of developing these kinds of skills and is something that the Bedales Science Department is passionate about. This Research Fellowship will provide the opportunity to deepen our own understanding of our teaching pedagogy, but also share with the wider teaching community.”
The Fellowship has partnered Liz with Dr Jane Essex from the University of Strathclyde as her academic collaborator as she carries out her research. Liz will have access to a £1000 research fund to cover the costs of attending conferences, courses, meetings with her mentor, and presenting her findings.
The RSC is the UK’s professional body for chemical scientists. A not-for-profit organisation, the RSC invests in educating future generations of scientists – raising and maintaining standards; partnering with industry and academia; and promoting collaboration and innovation. The RSC Chemical Education Research Group promotes research at all levels of education and disseminates research findings to members.