Breaking the law: Promoting domain-specificity in chemical education in the context of arguing about the periodic law [Book Review]

Foundations of Chemistry 9 (3):247-263 (2007)
In this paper, domain-specificity is presented as an understudied problem in chemical education. This argument is unpacked by drawing from two bodies of literature: learning of science and epistemology of science, both themes that have cognitive as well as philosophical undertones. The wider context is students’ engagement in scientific inquiry, an important goal for science education and one that has not been well executed in everyday classrooms. The focus on science learning illustrates the role of domain specificity in scientific reasoning. The discussion on epistemology of science presents ideas from the emerging field of philosophy of chemistry to highlight the much neglected area of epistemology in chemical education. Domain-specificity is exemplified in the context of chemical laws, in particular the Periodic Law. The applications of the discussion for chemical education are explored in relation to argumentation, itself an epistemologically grounded discourse pattern in science. The overall implications include the need for reconceptualization of the nature of teaching and learning in chemistry to include more particular epistemological aspects of chemistry.
Keywords Domain-specificity  Argumentation  Chemical laws  Periodicity
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