The South African Chemical Institute

Promoting chemistry, chemists, the chemical industry
    and chemical education in South Africa






SACI Events

Download SACI National Programme 2008 -2018     

SACI INORGANIC 2017 - Incorporating the Carman Symposium


The 3rd TCS International Conference and the 6th FASC Congress


  • Competence in Chemistry: Component Steps to Skills and Strategies
    SACI Chemical Education Medal Award Talk - Helen Drummond - 11 May 2017

This paper hypothesises that all skills are teachable. Skills (e.g. representation of knowledge, mathematical skills, visualization skills) can be broken down into their component steps, and strategies (e.g. problem solving) into their component skills, each of which can be taught. Each step must be thoroughly understood; otherwise the overall skill or strategy will not be mastered.

Much has been written on the need to improve chemistry teaching and learning, and to make Chemistry more attractive to students. Thus there have been many innovations in Chemistry teaching, many of which focus on using different media or rearranging the way in which content is taught.

However, if students do not learn the skills needed, they will never master chemistry. Thus a skills based approach to teaching chemistry is proposed. Various skills needed in the learning and application of Chemistry are discussed. Several studies have been undertaken by the author to test and improve students’ ability in these skills and strategies, and the results of these studies will be discussed.

The use of strategies which are likely to lead to a correct answer will improve students’ confidence, their competence and their success rate. The performance of students has been shown to improve when they receive guidance in the use of skills and strategies, and this should translate to higher grades in Chemistry.