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

Kaya, Ebru
Erduran, Sibel
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.