Evaluating the impact of project-based learning in supporting students with the A-level chemistry curriculum in Northern Ireland

Shannon McLaughlin, Haris Amir, Neil Garrido, Clare Turnball, Alison Rouncefield-Swales*, Malgorzata Swadźba-Kwaśny, Kevin Morgan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Toward Greener Fragrances (TGF) is a collaboration between the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS) and the Ionic Liquids Laboratory (QUILL) at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) supported by funding from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). TGF provided forty-nine post-16 students with a different perspective on chemistry, allowing them to experience the creativity of scientific research and learn how it relates to the real world. The project created the opportunity to work in an emerging scientific field that is accessible to students who, it transpired, have a real passion for higher-level chemistry. During the course of the eight-month extra-curricular project, students gained hands-on research experience in risk assessment, design of experiments, lab-based synthesis, and analysis, all of which was facilitated either in their respective schools or at university research facilities. The climax of the project was the opportunity for students to participate in a research conference. Hence, the project allowed them to work on chemical reactions studied at the A-level, develop practical skills, and gain insight into the research profession. Participants were surveyed at registration and at the end of their involvement to assess the impact of the project on the knowledge of chemistry and career aspirations. Teachers observed that the project encouraged students to work collaboratively, an experience that the students themselves reported as enjoyable. It is clear that the project had a significant positive impact on those who participated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-546
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number2
Early online date02 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2024


  • ionic liquids
  • outreach
  • project-based learning
  • researchers
  • secondary schools

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Education


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