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Reorienting chemistry education

Natural Science




Dr. Peter Mahaffy co-authored an article titled "Reorienting chemistry education through systems thinking" which emphasizes the importance of interdependence and interactions with other systems in chemistry learning to help students better understand and learn chemistry.

Systems thinking in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics describes a learning approach that connects the rote knowledge of chemistry to a wider understanding of the field and how it connects with other disciplines.

There are t
wo important arguments supporting reorienting chemistry education. First, chemistry education, particularly at the undergraduate level, faces challenges that can be addressed by incorporating systems thinking. Rather than learning isolated facts, systems learning would offer the opportunity to extend students' comprehension of chemistry far beyond what is achievable through rote learning.

Second, attempting to solve the sustainability challenges that our planet and society faces will require a combination of chemistry ingenuity and understanding the interconnections of human, animal, and environmental systems.

The benefits of reorienting chemistry education through systems thinking benefits students’ learning and enhances chemistry’s impact on society, contributing to addressing global problems and advancing global sustainable development.


Dig Deeper

Article: Mahaffy, Peter G., Krief, Alain, Henning, Hopf, Mehta, Goverdhan, Matlin, Stephen A., (2018). Reorienting Chemistry Education through Systems Thinking. Nature Reviews Chemistry, Volume2, doi:10.1038/s41570.018.0126

Dr. Peter Mahaffy

Professor, Chemistry P: 780-465-3500 Ext. 8043 F: 780-465-3534
  • PhD Organic Chemistry, Indiana University, 1979
  • BA, Dordt College, 1974

Alain Krief
Henning Hopf
Goverdhan Mehta
Stephen A. Matlin