Is CER best considered a discipline or a field of study? Reply to Hannah Sevian's comment

19 Jul 2019

Dear Editor, Thank you for inviting me to respond to Hannah Sevian's (2017) comments on my opinion piece in Educación Química (Taber, 2017). Dialogue on the nature of our work in chemistry education research (CER) is healthy, and a wider conversation is to be encouraged. There are two aspects to Hannah Sevian's letter, which perhaps can most helpfully be considered separately. She asks (a) about the extent to which chemistry education research could be considered a discipline, and in doing so refers to Good's (2000) notion of disciplines (“ever-changing frameworks within which scientific activity is organised”, p. 260) forming through processes of assembly; and she also argues (b) against overly restricting the developing field (in her terms, discipline) of CER. The article she comments on was based around two recommendations, both of which could potentially be seen as restrictive: (i) that progress in CER should be achieved by focusing enquiry around the development of specific research programmes (RP) and (ii) that work carried out within chemistry teaching and learning contexts should not automatically be accepted as falling within CER.