A review of affective chemistry education research and its implications for future research

Flaherty, A. A. (2020) A review of affective chemistry education research and its implications for future research. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 21 (3). pp. 698-713. ISSN 1109-4028


In the past twenty years there has been a surge of research on chemistry students’ attitudes, self-efficacy, self-concept, expectations, values, interest, motivation, effort beliefs and achievement emotions. This research has sought to understand how students feel when learning chemistry and how this may be influencing how they perform. However the wealth of this research has yet to be reviewed as a whole to identify its major themes and findings. This article reports on a review of 91 affective chemistry education research studies published since the year 2000. A focus of this review is to survey the methodological approaches used throughout research. The main finding of this review is that quantitative research regimes overwhelmingly dominant the landscape of affective chemistry education research. Of the studies reviewed, 85% ( n = 77) are quantitative, 10% ( n = 9) are mixed-methods while just 5% ( n = 5) are qualitative research studies. Five overarching themes of affective chemistry education research are revealed. These themes manifest as the purposes behind these research studies which include; (i) to measure and compare affective states across various student demographics and contexts (32%, n = 29), (ii) to assess the influence of a learning intervention on student affect (30%, n = 28), (iii) to correlate measured affective states to performance in exams (24%, n = 22), (iv) to develop and validate scales for chemistry education research (10%, n = 9) and (v) to quantitatively model affective theoretical frameworks (3%, n = 3). The dominance of quantitative research regimes to investigate student affect may be challenged given the highly subjective and unstable nature of measured affective states. The findings of this review offer a series of implications for affective chemistry education which will be later discussed with a view to indicating potential directions for future affective chemistry education research.

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