Frequently asked questions about Chemie im Kontext

The Chemie im Kontext conception often provokes questions. Some of these will be answered here.

What is really new about Chemie im Kontext?

Of course one could say that Chemie im Kontext is »old wine in new containers« and »a little context« can always be found – but the planning of chemistry lessons along the lines of meaningful contexts is definitively innovative! Everyday references in Chemie im Kontext are not simply motivational »looks out of the box«, they are the didactical backbone of all teaching. How radical this demand is can be seen when the didactical structure of a context is compared with the more subject oriented structure of a syllabus. The subject knowledge necessary to understand a context usually covers several categories in the syllabus. Chemie im Kontext thus, in an especially consequent manner, puts into effect the demands for situating learning and the development of cross-linked subject knowledge.
The context orientation is also linked to subsequent decontextualization, a multitude of methods and the ascription of the acquired knowledge to the basic concepts of chemistry. This is how subject knowledge is cumulatively attained, structured in basic concepts. The requirements concerning the subjects are linked to knowledge about teaching and learning better than in traditional teaching as is the acquisition of interdisciplinary competencies.


Is the subject knowledge taught in an unstructured and superficial manner in Chemie im Kontext?

»We cannot always do just context, we have to teach some real chemistry in between! « This teacher’s statement points out a widespread prejudice about real life-oriented teaching: »Context« is often equated with superficiality. Indeed, there is a danger that through a one-sided emphasis on real life approaches the systematic learning and the challenging, more abstract questions can get out of sight.
We tried to avoid this danger from the very beginning when Chemie im Kontext was conceived. Great importance was attached to the basic concepts to guarantee a systematic structuring of subject knowledge. Context contents were »decontextualized« in the course of the unit, i.e. they were attributed to a subject-oriented system, independent of context.
The context orientation even makes more demands on teachers and learners. The students often have to explain everyday phenomena using primary resources. Dealing with complex everyday phenomena is more demanding on students as well as on teachers than working with the didactically prepared contents of a textbook. The fact that usually several topics from the syllabus have to be considered in dealing with a context adds to the complexity of the task. This challenge must be met by modern chemistry education: Only cross-linked knowledge is sustainable and applicable.


How does Chemie im Kontext fit into the syllabi?

Chemie im Kontext is not primarily oriented to the structure of the discipline, it picks up, however, on the main chemistry contents that are important in school. On the whole the conception offers numerous suggestions for modern chemistry education with regard to the current educational goals and the Uniform Testing Standards in the Chemistry Abitur Examination (EPA, KMK 2004). This is also shown in the fact that several fundamental ideas of Chemie im Kontext have been adopted in the curricula in various Laender.


How do the teachers‘ and learners‘ tasks change?

Chemie im Kontext would like to support students‘ independent and self-directed learning in order to develop the main competencies of scientific literacy as well as to provide the the prerequisites for higher education:
How do I structure a complex problem?
Which questions can be studied with the help of chemistry?
How do I present the results?
Due to this emphasis on independent activity, the students have to give up their passive role as learners. The teacher, on the other hand, assumes a moderating role which is perhaps a less familiar one: He or she assumes the function of a learning monitor rather than the transmitter of knowledge.It goes without saying that Chemie im Kontext does not exclude »traditional« phases in lessons. A variety of methods are consciously used in the lessons so that the roles played by students and teachers are constantly changing and developing.


What does self-evaluation mean?

This key word plays an important role in Chemie im Kontext. It does not mean that the teachers carry out evaluation in a scientific sense, rather they regularly reflect on the teaching and learning processes, using, for example, accompanying reflection sheets. This allows them to better judge the success of their own action.