Scientific Perspectivism in Secondary-School Chemistry Education: Integrating Concepts and Skills in Chemical Thinking

Ilse Landa, Hanna Westbroek*, Fred Janssen, Jacqueline van Muijlwijk, Martijn Meeter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The importance of learning chemical ways of thinking is widely recognized. Various frameworks have been developed to address the essence of chemistry and chemical thinking. However, very few studies have focused on how chemical ways of thinking can be defined. To elaborate chemical ways of thinking, this paper draws on scientific perspectivism (Giere 2010; Wimsatt 2007; Thagard 2012). Scientific perspectivism states that, within each general domain, several broadly accepted theoretical models exist side by side. These general theoretical models, or theoretical perspectives, determine which research questions are generated, which types of models are developed, and which criteria are important for evaluating models. A theoretical perspective can be captured in a core reasoning that embodies the fundamental relationship between model and the “real world.” Starting with their most basic form, perspectives can be used in learning how to reason about all types of ill-structured problems, directing and organizing knowledge development, and integrating knowledge and skills. The study is part of a research project on how perspectivism can be applied to the design of secondary-school chemistry education. This particular study concerns the identification, elaboration, and validation of four chemical perspectives for secondary-school chemistry education. We use these perspectives to indicate the consequences of taking a perspectivism approach to a curriculum framework. We conclude with discussing the consequences for secondary chemistry curriculum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1361-1388
Number of pages28
JournalScience and Education
Issue number5
Early online date7 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


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