Deakin University

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Situating sustainable development within secondary chemistry education via systems thinking: a depth study approach

journal contribution
posted on 2019-01-01, 00:00 authored by Andrew C Eaton, Seamus DelaneySeamus Delaney, Madeleine SchultzMadeleine Schultz
We report here a teacher action research project in which a Systems Thinking approach was implemented into a 15 h Depth Study for students in their final year of secondary chemistry. Students were introduced to the concept of Systems Thinking and the use of systems maps, along with the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs). Integrating these ideas, students created their own systems maps for specific chemical processes. Specifically, they represented their chemistry curriculum content knowledge in the context of the SDGs, by considering whether the impact of each aspect of the chemical process is positive, negative, or neutral for each SDG. The purpose of the approach was to give students the opportunity to situate their knowledge of sustainability in the context of the sourcing, uses, and other intended and unintended consequences of a variety of chemical processes, and how these processes impact the wider global community. The teacher action research was conducted through the development and testing of the teaching materials as part of an iterative cycle of improvement. The teaching and assessment approach was evaluated utilizing reflections of the teacher in an action research cycle. The project is described in the context of how Systems Thinking influenced the inclusion of sustainability as a cross-curriculum priority in Australia. This report gives secondary teachers tools to implement Systems Thinking in their own classrooms in a way that integrates it within the chemistry curriculum without requiring additional time or resources.



Journal of chemical education






2968 - 2974


American Chemical Society


Washington, D.C.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2019, American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc.