Using Results of Standardized Examinations to Assess Student Learning Outcomes (Chemistry)

Effective program-level assessment provides data which faculty can use to collaboratively develop, maintain and improve an effective curriculum that promotes student learning through a program of study.  Access to appropriate assessment tools and measures are critical to this process. At WSU, faculty are responsible for selecting assessment measures that align with student learning outcomes in the discipline and the curriculum, in order to generate meaningful data. 

ATL Mini-grant Project: In the academic year 2015-16, the Department of Chemistry received assessment mini grant funding in support of their project, “Direct Assessment of Chemistry Department Learning Goals,” which involved piloting nationally-available introductory and end-of-program standardized examinations from the American Chemical Society. The use of these standardized examinations allows department faculty to assess student performance on both concept-oriented and mathematically-oriented questions at the beginning and end of the program, and compare the performance of WSU chemistry students to nationally normed data.

The Chemistry department is already using information made possible by this project to inform decisions and make adjustments. According to Paul Buckley, Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry, “as a result of these analyses, tutorial sessions in CHEM 105 in Fall 2016 and CHEM 106 in Spring 2017 are featuring peer group guided-inquiry learning activities designed to reinforce conceptual understanding.”

For additional information about assessment mini grants, including examples of other previously funded projects, see ATL’s Assessment Mini-Grant webpage.