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Developing a Student Centered Assessment for General Chemistry
  • Jessica N. Orvis, Georgia Southern University
  • Scott Lewis
  • Deborah Sauder
  • Patricia Todebush
  • Timothy Howell

This project is developing a set of valid and reliable alternative assessments for general chemistry called Creative Exercises (CEs), which provide the stem of a problem but not the question, and then ask the student to generate as many independent correct statements about the problem as possible. The student therefore determines what statements are related to the original prompt, that are correct and distinct, and that are also relevant to the material presented in general chemistry. CEs hold the potential to engage students in alternative forms of assessment that may promote learning retention and mitigate test anxiety, and to provide instructors with additional measures of how students represent their understanding of chemistry. The CEs are being integrated into exams in general chemistry courses at five different colleges and universities in Georgia, with two iterations of studying and improving the items, their implementation, and how to score them reliably. The research includes the study of validity, reliability and bias in assessing student learning via CEs in general chemistry. Additionally, the project is investigating potential benefits of the use of CEs. To better understand how the CEs measure students' understanding, the project is also conducting a parallel investigation of the associations between student understanding as measured by the CEs and how students represent their understanding using concept maps, to probe students' schemata assuming a cognitive constructivist model. The resources being developed include a psychometrically sound set of assessments and rubrics for scoring them. These resources are being shared with educators through peer-reviewed publications, presentations at professional meetings, and online databases that feature materials for chemistry instruction. The project is also offering workshops for STEM faculty presenting alternative assessments at each of the five collaborating institutions during the summer of the third year of the project.

Publication Date
March, 2010
Citation Information
Scott Lewis (PI), Deborah Sauder, Jessica Orvis, Patricia Todebush, Timothy Howell (co-PIs): “Developing a Student Centered Assessment for General Chemistry” NSF CCLI (Course Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement) Award (funded for $159,450 in collaboration with Kennesaw State University), Mar 2010 – Feb 2013.