73171 - Basics and Teaching Tools of Chemistry

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student has: (a) basic knowledge to master chemical terminology; (b) basic knowledge in the field of general chemistry, physical chemistry, organic chemistry and analytical chemistry; she/he is also able to: (c) place some chemistry topics in their historical and epistemological context and perspective; (d) address the main cognitive difficulties that students may have in learning chemistry; (e) analyse and critically discuss the results of the research in chemical education; (f) use for teaching purpose different scholastic textbook and materials; (g) elaborate short didactic sequences for the learning of chemical topics following the national guidelines; (h) use a trans- and interdisciplinary approach in teaching chemistry.

Course contents

  • The discipline’s theoretical framework: identification of a logical structure in the historical development of Chemistry; identification of a hierarchical structure of basic concepts of chemistry; identification of specific conceptual peculiarities in chemistry (the three basic components of matter representation).
  • The fundamentals of the discipline with particular reference both to the chemical topics listed in the guidelines for secondary school and to their historical evolution (from macroscopic to submicroscopic): physical transformations (aggregation states of matter and solutions) and chemical transformations (classes of chemical reactions); fundamental laws of chemistry; the periodic system (from Mendeleev to modern classification); atom, molecule, ion; the chemical formulas and the quantity of matter (mole); kinetic and thermodynamic bases of chemical reactions; chemical equilibrium; historical development of the acid and base concepts; redox-reactions and their applications; nuclear reactions; elements of inorganic nomenclature; classification of organic compounds, reactivity and basis of nomenclature.
  • Role of models and modelling practice in teaching chemistry: the paradigmatic example of particle model and of its didactic transposition.
  • Kinds and origins of alternative conceptions (misconceptions) in chemistry.
  • Strategies for the learning of chemistry (and in general, of science) in a constructivist perspective: design of teaching activities.
  • The implications of chemistry didactic research in the process of teaching transposition: examples from the literature.
  • Digital technologies in chemistry teaching: spreadsheets, web simulation app, etc.
  • The potential of informal teaching for learning.
  • Guidelines of the European Community: development of the transversal skills necessary to face issues with great social impact such as: gender issues; relationship between science and society, free access to research results; responsible research and innovation.
  • Critical analysis of textbooks for the secondary school.


Suggested reference texts:

C. Fiorentini, E. Aquilini, D. Colombi, A. Testoni, Leggere il mondo oltre le apparenze, Roma, Armando, 2007.

C. Fiorentini, E. Aquilini, P. Conti, R. Nencini, Stupirsi, Osservare Concettualizzare. Il curricolo verticale di scienze, Insegnare, Dossier, 2011.

A Guidebook of Good Practice for the Pre-Service Training of Chemistry Teachers, Edited by I. Maciejowska and B. Byers, 2015 (http://www.ec2e2n.net/).

V. Domenici, Insegnare a Apprendere Chimica, Mondadori Università, 2018.

During the course, articles, book chapters and other materials from specialist literature will be provided by the teachers and / or deposited on the Moodle platform.

Teaching methods

From a methodological point of view, the presentation of the different issues will be accompanied by their historical-epistemological contextualization, taking care of highlighting the experimental nature of chemistry.

The classroom work will be conducted, for some parts, by adopting active and collaborative teaching.

Some topics will be completed or corroborated by means of individual or group activities supported on the Moodle platform.

Assessment methods

Learning assessment consists in the evaluation and discussion of a final written report concerning the critical description of a scientific paper in the field of chemical education chosen by the student among a shortlist proposed by the teachers.

During the exam the knowledge about the fundamental topics of chemistry, as described in the contents of the web guide, will also be assessed 

Teaching tools

Blackboard, overhead projector, personal computer, video projector, PC presentations, laboratory didactic materials, Moodle platform.

Office hours

See the website of Sergio Zappoli

See the website of Margherita Venturi