Book review

Nuts and Bolts of Chemical Education Research, edited by Diane M. Bunce and Renée S. Cole. viii + 239 pages,
American Chemical Society, Washington DC, distributed by Oxford University Press, 2008, US $80.00 (paperbound).

Chemical education research (CER) is a relatively new discipline that deals with the issues of both teaching and learning chemistry. It uses the theories, tools and experimental designs of a number of fields such as education, psychology and sociology. Since it is frequently misunderstood within the field of chemistry, two professors of chemistry, Diane M. Bunce of Catholic University of America and Renée S. Cole of the University of Central Missouri, have edited this practical, no-nonsense guide by 18 contributors, including themselves.

There are 14 chapters replete with useful figures, charts, recommended readings and pertinent references, including Internet websites. Listed below are a few chapter titles of particular interest to the high school chemistry teacher.

  • Using This Book to Find Answers to Chemical Education Questions
  • Questions to Chemical Educators from the Chemistry Community
  • Drawing Meaningful Conclusions from Education Experiments
  • Assessment of Student Learning: Guidance for Instructors
  • Collaborative Projects: Being the Chemical Education Resource
  • Building a Fruitful Relationship Between the Chemistry and Chemical Education Communities within a Department of Chemistry.

In my opinion the authors have truly succeeded in attaining their goal — “to provide an overview of the components of chemical education research and to discuss the process of how questions in this field are addressed.” Therefore, I recommend this unique and much-needed guide to a broad readership: chemists wanting to understand and evaluate the CER literature so they can use it in their classes, chemists concerned with carrying out CER or writing CER grant proposals, beginning chemical education researchers wishing to learn more about their chosen field, experienced chemical education researchers desiring to review the field, students interested in this relatively new field, and members of funding agencies or foundations charged with evaluating CER grant proposals.