Photo of Robert Bucat

Robert Bucat

Professor, BSc BEd PhD W.Aust., FRACI

  • The University of Western Australia (M310), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth

    Australia

  • 46 Citations
  • 4 h-Index
19952018
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Personal profile

Current projects

The proposals summarised here would be appropriate for students with an interest in the processes of education in chemistry. It would be expected that work on any of these projects would lead to an expansion of the frontiers of knowledge in chemical education, as well as to new perspectives of the field of chemistry that constitutes the context of the work. The research will certainly lead to a better understanding of chemistry for the investigator. All projects are related to teaching in this Department.

1. Pedagogical content knowledge about particular topics or concepts

The last twenty years has seen the development and refinement of a variety of methods to probe the quality of students’ understandings about a whole range of concepts and relationships, not only in chemistry but in all of the sciences. Some members of the academic staff in this department have indicated a desire to participate in such research in order to reflect upon their own teaching. This would constitute a worthwhile project.

The really important issue from the educational point of view is to identify the underlying causes of commonly found learning deficiencies - which in turn leads to the next issue of how we can design teaching strategies specifically tailored to meet the learning demands presented by particular concepts or relationships.

This project would concern identification of the demands on learners. What are the characteristics of the content that render certain concepts or skills difficult to learn (to meet defined criteria of adequate understanding)? This in turn begs the question of what forms of knowing constitute adequate understanding. The project would be based on the view that instructional strategies need to be content-specific: broad educational pedagogical principles are in themselves not sufficient. Development and evaluation of instructional strategies specifically designed for the teaching of particular concepts or skills would naturally follow as a component of a project of this sort.
2. Learning through the internet

There are now a myriad of potentially useful chemistry websites. Examples include sites related to the chemistry of the elements and to environmental chemistry. Some of those related to the Periodic Table are particularly powerful, allowing one to explore interactively a whole range of data and patterns. Can we design components of undergraduate chemistry courses that require students (with guidance) to obtain information for themselves, make their own judgements about trends and patterns and, consequently to frame their own questions about chemistry? Why access information from people (called lecturers) when there may be more active, more motivational (and cheaper?) ways of doing so. Might we change dramatically the role of lecturers in this way? There are huge opportunities for internet-based curriculum development and evaluation. Associate Professor Harrowfield (and perhaps others) is interested in participation in such a project.
3. Sources of evidence

To what extent should students understand the experimental evidence that is the basis for the chemical knowledge that they are required to learn? To give a specific example, should students have some understanding of why "we" believe that matter consists of atoms? Or of why we accept that the electronegativity of fluorine is greater than that of sulfur? To what extent do students have such appreciation? To what extent do our courses and our textbooks attempt to enhance such appreciation? There is room for some very interesting research here (in conjunction with Assoc. Prof. Jack Harrowfield). Prefacing research into students’ understandings of the experimental sources of our knowledge in relation to any particular chemical idea is the question ‘What is the evidence that leads us to believe that?’ This in itself might offer some challenge to an Honours student because the evidence is often problematic and derived from several sources. It would certainly enhance your understanding and appreciation of chemistry.

Keywords

  • Chemical education

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Research Output 1995 2018

1 Citation (Scopus)
275 Downloads (Pure)
Open Access
File
Students
Education
4 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)

Understanding of words and symbols by chemistry university students in Croatia

Vladusic, R., Bucat, R. B. & Ozic, M., 2016, In : Chemistry Education Research and Practice. 17, 3, p. 474-488 17 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Croatia
symbol
chemistry
Students
university
10 Citations (Scopus)

Development, Evaluation and Use of a Student Experience Survey in Undergraduate Science Laboratories: The Advancing Science by Enhancing Learning in the Laboratory Student Laboratory Learning Experience Survey

Barrie, S. C., Bucat, R., Buntine, M. A., Burke Da Silva, K., Crisp, G. T., George, A. V., Jamie, I. M., Kable, S. H., Lim, K. F., Pyke, S. M., Read, J. R., Sharma, M. D. & Yeung, A., 2015, In : International Journal of Science Education. 37, 11, p. 1795-1814

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

science
evaluation
learning
experience
student

PROBING STUDENT MOTIVATION FOR STUDYING INTRODUCTORY CHEMISTRY AT UWA

Clemons, T., Spagnoli, D., Price, K. & Bucat, R., 2013, Proceedings of the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education. Sydney, NSW: UniServe Science, Vol. 19. p. 16

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paper

Learning at the Sub-micro Level: Structural Representations

Bucat, R. & Mocerino, M., 2009, Multiple Representations in Chemical Education. Gilbert, J. K. & Treagust, D. (eds.). United Kingdom: Springer Science + Business Media, p. 11-29

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter