The final webinar in the 2018/2019 season was from Prof Stacey Lowery Bretz on 22nd May at 7 PM BST, entitled: Measuring Students’ Understandings of Multiple Representations in Chemistry. The abstract is below.
Learning chemistry requires students to become fluent in the symbolic language of chemistry. Developing expertise requires that students move beyond manipulating symbols to create explanations using particulate models of matter for observations in the laboratory. Failure to accurately interpret and connect these multiple representations of matter creates challenges for students. Our research group has designed a suite of measurement tools to advance our understanding of how students interpret representations for a variety of core concepts. Our two most recent concept inventories measure students’ understandings of (1) the enthalpy and entropy changes that occur during solution formation and precipitation and (2) the electronic structure of the atom with regards to both probability and energy quantization. Results from these two inventories with undergraduate students enrolled in first year college chemistry, physical chemistry, and biophysical chemistry courses will be presented. Creating such measures has also presented multiple challenges with regard to establishing the reliability and validity (precision and accuracy) of the data. Insights regarding the underlying assumptions and appropriateness of commonly used psychometrics will be discussed as well.