Colin Osborn reviews this text on publishing symposia quickly

Nuts and bolts of chemical education research
Diane M. Bunce and Renée S. Cole (eds)
Washington DC: ACS 2008 2009 | Pp239 | £44.00 | ISBN 978 0 84 126958 3

nuts and bolts of chemical education research cover

This book is one in a series published by the American Chemical Society which provides a mechanism for publishing symposia quickly. Although an outmoded way of disseminating information, the benefit of the approach is the logical progression from the first article, which is a guide on using the book to find answers to chemical education questions.

The book covers topics such as recurring themes in chemical education research, methodologies, assessment of student learning which includes constructing meaningful tests and the components of good research questions. One theme of the book is the need for theory to underpin research. There is a step-by-step guide to writing a funding proposal which, despite the US bias of the book, will be of interest to chemical education researchers in the UK.

There is an interesting chapter on how theory-based research on the particulate nature of matter caused a dramatic change in teaching practices. The author describes the research into the many misconceptions of the particulate nature of matter which students can hold and then the interventions found to be successful, including an historical treatment which presents the atom as a changing model when new facts are discovered. Animations and the use of models were also found to be successful.

Sections likely to be more useful to researchers include the chapters on qualitative research design, inferential statistics, mixed methods design, and designing tests and surveys. There is an informative chapter which focuses on drawing meaningful conclusions from education experiments. A particularly important statement is that 'anecdotal evidence is not research'. The book finishes with a discussion of what may be one of the most difficult partnerships to nurture - building a fruitful relationship between the chemistry and chemical education communities.

All in all, this book will be of use to those involved in chemical education and a useful resource to dip into for teachers and chemists.