Chemistry is well recognised as being full of abstract concepts that interface with other Science Technology Engineering & Maths (STEM) disciplines.
The subject is perceived as being difficult to understand, and this may in part be due to the juxtaposition of macroscopic and sub-microscopic properties of chemical systems. Chemical education is the study of how humans create the models to explain what they see, what are the particular challenges and misconceptions associated with the models, and how these can be overcome – essentially this topic is the study of how humans think about learning chemistry.
Practical chemistry teaching has the added complication of the setting in which the learning takes place. Manual dexterity, safety, planning and experimental design, social interactions, equipment are all examples of additional components that have to be considered by the experimentalist. These add significant mental demands for the scientist (known as cognitive load) and can detrimentally affect the learning experience in the lab environment if not managed correctly.
Within chemical education we have three main strands of interest: