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IUPAC 2017: Simpósio sobre Ensino reúne experiências de sucesso com novos métodos e conceitos de aprendizagem

Debates terão a presença de dez especialistas em diferentes segmentos, sendo oito estrangeiros

O Simpósio de Ensino de Química na IUPAC 2017 será um rico apanhado de resultados de trabalhos de pesquisa e experiências feitas para melhorar o aprendizado em diversos países. O simpósio terá a participação de pesquisadores de ponta, inclusive oito palestrantes convidados estrangeiros e um brasileiro. "Em essência, buscamos trazer relatos de experiências e de pesquisas que permitam aprimorar as práticas de ensino e aprendizagem. Esperamos que os participantes aproveitem essa oportunidade de conhecerem novas metodologias e conceitos para que o aluno aprenda mais e melhor", explica o professor Fernando Galembeck (Unicamp), organizador do simpósio.

O "aluno" em questão pode ser tanto o que vai se tornar um técnico em química ou pesquisador, quanto o que não estudará química em profundidade, mas será um cidadão que vai tomar decisões e ter uma participação política na sociedade. Isso é muito necessário, porque a química está adquirindo um papel cada vez mais importante na solução das grandes questões da humanidade. "Sabemos da importância do ensino de Química começar o mais cedo possível, nos primeiros anos da escola primária, por meio de experimentos."

Segundo o professor, projeções mostram que a indústria química de transformação será um dos setores com maior crescimento nas próximas duas décadas. "Precisamos estimular as pessoas a terem uma noção mais clara desta ciência, para que decisões, sejam de consumo, sejam de cunho político, sejam tomadas com mais embasamento científico", explica Galembeck, ex-presidente da SBQ e membro do Conselho Consultivo.

O Professor Santiago Sandi-Ureña, que teve uma longa experiência nos Estados Unidos e hoje está na Universidade da Costa Rica é um dos palestrantes do Simpósio Ensino de Química. Em sua visão, "o ensino por meio de experimentos em laboratório não tem tido a atenção merecida". Ele tem vasta experiência com o ensino de Química em nível universitário.

Leia entrevista exclusiva concedida ao Boletim SBQ:

Professor Santiago Sandi-Ureña, da Universidade da Costa Rica: "Na minha apresentação, defendo que o ensino superior deve mudar a ênfase no ensino fragmentado e baseado em instrução para um modelo centrado no aprendizado e na compreensão."

In a nutshell, what will be the essence of your lecture?
The talk I will be delivering is centered on learning in the academic laboratory at university level. In our view there is a discrepancy between the professed centrality of the practical experience in learning chemistry and the educational research work in the field. We would even go further and put forth the experimental teaching of chemistry does not get as much attention as it should and is plagued with unfounded assumptions that continue driving pedagogical decisions. Evidence for this is the wide agreement in expert literature that the potential of chemistry laboratory instruction is not being fully realized. The traditional approaches supported by the common assumptions are not accomplishing learning objectives that are desirable and significant outcomes for modern science literacy, for example, problem solving skills, critical thinking, and experiment design and implementation.

This is by no means a new dilemma but, in spite of the work done by some outstanding researchers, there is still a broad research gap that needs to be addressed. To some extent, we think this research gap stems from inherent methodological challenges in researching learning in the laboratory.

In this presentation I argue for the need for tertiary-level, subject specific research that shifts from a fragmented and instruction-based emphasis to one that is comprehensive and learning-centered. To advance in this direction, we support the proposal made by others that qualitative approaches may be better suited to deal with the complexities of learning through experimentation. Specifically we propose the use of phenomenology as a theoretical framework, which is a new approach in this field. In this talk I will discuss a series of phenomenological studies focused on the learning experiences of students and their instructors across different institutions and laboratory formats. This research has focused on the holistic experience of learning in a laboratory environment and not on specific instructional approaches. I will also touch upon the current state of research on learning in the chemistry academic laboratory at tertiary level and associated methodological challenges.

Are there significant differences in the way chemistry is taught in the US and in Latin America?
I must point out my interest and my field of work focuses on tertiary level education, so my comments circumscribe exclusively to chemistry education at university level.

This is a hard question to address and I am not quite sure what kind of credentials would allow someone to give a thorough, informed answer. In my case, my experience with chemistry instruction in Latin America is very limited as to venture in making a definite judgment. As an endeavor, education is very context-dependent, thus it would only be reasonable to expect there must be marked differences even between countries in such an extended and diverse region as Latin America.

In fact, international chemistry education has been an interest of mine for several years now. I co-founded a symposium on Multicultural and International Perspectives in Chemistry Education back in 2011 that is still running as a standing event in the program of the annual American Chemical Society Spring National Meeting. This symposium intends to create a space for chemistry educators and chemical education researchers to share their views and experiences and to learn from one another. To some extent, the Chemical Education symposium at the World Chemistry Congress serves a similar purpose.

My belief is there must be some considerable differences between the practice of teaching in Latin America and the US and I am intrigued by what they may be and how they may be expressed, and especially, the effects they may carry on educational outcomes. It would be rather interesting to gather comparative evidence that would allow better reciprocal understanding and that could assist us all in learning from one another.

My perception draws from occasional interactions, which unfortunately come mostly from non-instructional settings such as the Latin American Chemistry Congress, CLAQ, and other international meetings. My view is that in the US practice seems to be more informed by research; notwithstanding, as research suggests, this is not widely generalizable or particularly effective even within the US.

I believe it is common in the US that at least some faculty members within the Departments of Chemistry have a particular interest in Chemical Education, keep up with literature in the sub-discipline and attend related conferences and events. It seems to me in the US Chemical Education from the perspective of the discipline—discipline-based Chemical Education—is well differentiated from science education or teacher education programs. Again, this may be different between countries in Latin America and even within countries and there is no way for me to assert that currently. I personally know of a couple of institutions in Latin America where efforts are conducted to establish Chemical Education within the Department of Chemistry with the intention of directly impacting practice. In my view, discipline-based Chemical Education in the US is well-developed and rightfully identified as a Chemistry sub-discipline with research faculty positions devoted to the field whereas in other countries or regions it may be often viewed as a sub-discipline within the College of Education and often refers to secondary education. Or it may be a field advanced by faculty who are not necessarily research faculty. I do not have an idea of how commonplace it is to find experts in Chemical Education within Departments of Chemistry in Latin America but I have not met many.

If this view of mine is at least partially accurate, I believe it would suggest the incorporation of new methodologies, practices or views in the pedagogical practice at university level could be delayed in Latin American institutions. It'd be so since there wouldn't be mechanisms in place to effectively mediate between research and practice.

How to build a path towards high quality chemistry education?
I wish I could produce an authoritative answer to this question but I doubt there is a recipe or easy, one-size-fits all fix. And of course, the path is determined by where one starts from and one's goals.

Definitely, all of us devoted to advancing chemical education have our own suggestions but one should never forget education is a very, very complex and context-dependent endeavor. And most definitely, imposing pedagogical models or practices on instructors (or departments for that matter) may lead to a counterproductive sense of disempowerment since reform requires all stakeholders to buy in enthusiastically.

Risking falling in a cliché, a first step is to acknowledge things may not be perfect and improvement is necessary. Only once this realization is made, a conscious and committed decision to engage in an improvement plan can set off. However basic this may sound, the naïve illusion all that needs to be known about education is known and that this knowledge is achieved intuitively remains a considerable drawback in Departments of Chemistry. When engaged in education, some take licenses that would be unpardonable in the world of science such as ignoring specialized literature and letting instinct guide one's practice. There are plenty of college professors who have taught for years and are yet to read their first piece of literature in education. By no means does this imply we all should become experts in pedagogy, for instance, but we all should be adequately informed. I use this example to draw attention to how critical is this perception that being experts in chemistry exempts us from having to learn about education. No chemist would ever fathom the idea of getting into an area of chemistry new to her of him without doing substantial reading and training and developing some sort of competence. Yet, it seems this is acceptable without second thought when referring to education. Thus, it seems the path to quality chemistry education should start by reaching that level of awareness.

At the classroom level, an instructor may decide to reform her or his practice to enhance quality of education. This bottom-up approach is loadable and should never be discouraged. One can hope it may trigger a domino effect and end up furnishing broader impact. But even if successful, this approach would also be slow and wearing. In my view, to be sustainable and bring about meaningful changes, a top-down approach should complement any bottom-up effort to achieve improvement in chemical education. Coincidentally, we are furthering a project to improve chemistry education at a relatively small university in Latin America whose initial findings support this perception. One of the major realizations derived from the diagnostic phase was precisely that obstacles were not always necessarily related to the discipline itself or classroom practices but majorly to administrative decisions—or lack thereof—and institutional policies. Until these are not acknowledged and addressed, efforts at the classroom level will have only minor, focalized effects and at a relatively unfavorable cost/benefit ratio.

The problems in education that interest us do not have quick fixes. Complex problems call for thoughtful solutions. They require thorough planning and this encompasses becoming acquainted with research literature, learning from those who are ahead of us on this path and recruiting individuals whose contributions can speed up the process. Improvising and making decisions based on personal empiricism constitute a recipe for failure.

In more general terms, I am of the impression universities' contributions to solve eventual shortcomings in secondary chemistry education start by solving their own shortcomings teaching chemistry to college students. There is the occasional individual who comfortably shifts responsibility to pre-college education and sees in that a blank check to justify inaction. I strongly believe chemistry education reform should start in college and not at lower levels of schooling. Departments of Chemistry everywhere need to have a devoted plan to guarantee sustained improvement of chemistry education. It should not be a shy attempt to save face. Chemical education should be raised within Departments of Chemistry to the level of any other sub-discipline. And of course, this implies setting high expectations and demands: Chemical Education should become an active field of scholarly work and knowledge-generation within the Departments of Chemistry.

Of course, there are more advanced and specific strategies that could be discussed. Amongst them updating recruiting requirements for faculty that will engage in teaching so that right from the hiring process the expectations regarding teaching are clear, implementing an induction and mentoring program for new hires, training in the form of professional development, seminar series, attendance to conferences, incentives to promote teaching excellence, for instance through the tenure and promotion process or awards, etc. However, these need to be preceded by building a solid foundation anchored in a clear view of the purpose and methods of education.

What are your expectations for IUPAC 2017?
As I mentioned, international chemical education is an interest of mine. Global meetings foster the sharing of different perspectives of chemistry educators and chemical education researchers. An international forum promotes advancement and betterment of understanding of the diverse ways in which we comprehend and enact chemical education and nurtures reciprocal education. It allows us all to strengthen networks and form new alliances to advance together. In this sense, I believe it is especially significant that this meeting is taking place in South America since it will broaden the participation of chemistry educators and chemical education researcher from the sub-continent. As said, I am far from knowing enough about the perspectives and practices in the region and this is a convenient gathering to work towards filling that personal gap. I expect the chemical education program to convene researchers and practitioners with varied interests and from diverse cultural and national backgrounds in a vibrant environment of scholarly discussion and reflection.

Moreover, being a chemistry event, the World Chemistry Congress creates an ideal platform for chemistry educators and chemical education researchers to reach out to our colleagues in other chemistry sub-disciplines. Perhaps, this should be portrayed as a bidirectional effort but realistically speaking, it makes more sense for it to be furthered by the chemical education agenda. For chemical education to make strides within Departments of Chemistry and chemistry education to improve, it is indispensable that the chemistry community at large understands the field as one of robust and rigorous scholarly work. Large, global chemistry events that hold technical programs in chemical education, such as IUPAC-2017, render this possible. I would hope IUPAC-2107 showcases work from global and local experts in Chemical Education that reaches colleagues across the sub-disciplines.

Leia entrevista concedida pelo Professor Fernando Galembeck ao Boletim SBQ:

Fernando Galembeck (Unicamp), coordenador do Simpósio: "Na minha opinião o caminho é, como se faz nos países que têm sistemas escolares de boa qualidade, criar diferentes opções de estudo, adequadas aos diferentes interesses e condições dos jovens, e fortalecer o lado mais prático e aplicado da educação média. A questão não é se o jovem, aos 15 anos de idade, já tem maturidade para fazer escolhas; questão não é se o jovem, aos 15 anos de idade, já tem maturidade para fazer escolhas; a questão é que, tendo que estudar tudo e treinar para o ENEM, os jovens acabam aprendendo pouco."

A "reforma do ensino médio" que tramita no Congresso (aprovada pela Câmara em 7/12, com emendas a serem analisadas) contribui para o ambiente do ensino de Química? Em termos propositivos, como esta lei poderia ser benéfica para o ensino de Química e Ciências?
Projetos de reforma do ensino médio transitam no Congresso há pelo menos vinte anos, sem definição. Não é um caso isolado: temos situações semelhantes na biodiversidade, na inovação e outros temas estratégicos. Claramente, a reforma do ensino é um assunto em torno do qual não há consenso, seja entre professores, seja entre alunos e suas famílias, seja entre os formuladores de políticas públicas. Na prática, o atual ensino médio está organizado em um currículo único de preparação para o ENEM, que seleciona uns poucos que conseguem entrar nas universidades federais. Os gastos públicos por aluno se multiplicaram por quatro nos últimos 15 anos, sem melhora perceptível na má qualidade da educação. Portanto, uma reforma é necessária, e vem sendo discutida há anos. Infelizmente, a medida provisória tem muitas lacunas e ainda existem muitos pontos que requerem ajustes e esclarecimento. Na minha opinião o caminho é, como se faz nos países que têm sistemas escolares de boa qualidade, criar diferentes opções de estudo, adequadas aos diferentes interesses e condições dos jovens, e fortalecer o lado mais prático e aplicado da educação média. A questão não é se o jovem, aos 15 anos de idade, já tem maturidade para fazer escolhas; a questão é que, tendo que estudar tudo e treinar para o ENEM, os jovens acabam aprendendo pouco. Especificamente quanto à Química, creio que será um avanço poder trabalhar com alunos que estão motivados e interessados. Fico triste em ouvir, como ouço frequentemente, estudantes afirmarem que "odeiam" Química, porque a estudaram apenas por obrigação formal.

Existe alguma estimativa sobre o déficit de professores de Química (ou Ciências) no Brasil?
É impossível fazer estimativas independentemente do contexto institucional, que hoje está indefinido. Ouço pessoas afirmando números, sonoramente, mas não sei que crédito dar a eles, sem que seja apresentada a metodologia usada para chegar a esses números. Por outro lado, há exemplos importantíssimos de iniciativas de aproveitamento da Internet para apoiar professores e estudantes, oferecendo-lhes material de estudo, diversificado e de alta qualidade. De parte da SBQ, destaco o portal QNInt, a Química Nova Interativa e as revistas publicadas pela Sociedade, que formam um rico acervo à disposição de estudantes e professores, atenuando deficiências e abrindo novos horizontes.

O Brasil corre o risco de sucatear seu sistema de ensino de Química?

A pergunta é excessivamente abrangente. Há casos e exemplos de prática de ensino de Química, no Brasil, que nada têm de sucata. Há também casos em que se gasta muito dinheiro com poucos resultados e casos em que se consegue resultados brilhantes, com pouco dinheiro. O risco de um aumento na deterioração do ensino aumenta quando os responsáveis pelo ensino se refestelam nos discursos negativos, ao invés de conhecerem e procurarem reproduzir os bons exemplos. O Brasil teve em 2011 um papel destacado em um grande projeto internacional o do "pH do Planeta". Cerca de dois milhões de crianças brasileiras participaram e muitas delas fizeram seu primeiro experimento científico, naquela ocasião. Como aconteceu? Juntaram-se esforços de dois INCTs, da Abiquim, de Conselhos Regionais de Química e, face aos resultados obtidos, juntou-se o MCTI, na Semana Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia. Também houve omissões e sabotagens, apenas para confirmar que não há regra sem exceção. Quanto custou? Estimo em duzentos mil reais, uma ninharia em tempos de Lava Jato.

Diante da precária situação ambiental (águas poluídas, solos degradados, escassez de recursos, etc), qual a importância de formar químicos?
A partir dos anos 90, a situação ambiental tem recebido um grande impulso de melhoria. A Abiquim implantou o programa "Atuação Responsável", com resultados notáveis. Muitas pastagens degradadas e semi-desérticas (por exemplo, no oeste do estado de São Paulo) foram transformadas em áreas produtoras de riqueza e fixadoras de carbono atmosférico, graças à expansão da cana de açúcar. O cerrado, que na minha infância era tido como uma área imprópria para a agricultura, "devido à presença de metais tóxicos (sic)" é hoje uma das principais fontes de riqueza do país. No Nordeste, mesmo depois de cinco anos de seca, há exemplos de agricultores produzindo, com tecnologia e engenhosidade. O papel dos químicos no emergente cenário da Bioeconomia é enorme. Por isso mesmo, há projeções de que o setor da indústria de transformação que mais crescerá, nos próximos vinte anos em todo o mundo, é a indústria química. No lugar de repetir chavões, podemos contribuir para criar e difundir soluções. Uma delas é a formação de bons químicos, um caminho eficiente para melhorar o mundo em que vivemos.

Veja programação do Simpósio Ensino de Química:

Texto: Mario Henrique Viana (Assessoria de Imprensa da SBQ)

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