Using the Paired Question Technique to Assess Student Learning in General Chemistry (Chemistry)

Assessment data serve multiple functions in the assessment process. These data provide insight into student performance in order to offer evidence about student learning in the curriculum, provide information about program strengths and weaknesses, and guide decision-making. A robust data set provides a rich base for analysis, faculty discussion, and evidence-based decision making. In this way, assessment results inform continual reflection and discussion to ensure effective teaching and learning. 

ATL Mini-grant Project: In the academic year 2016-17, the Department of Chemistry received assessment mini-grant funding in support of their project, “Using the Paired Question Technique to Assess Student Learning in General Chemistry,” which involved purchasing a standardized exam from the American Chemical Society that pairs a conceptual question with a traditional quantitative question to test student understanding in both areas. These exams provide the department with a direct measure of the challenges and misunderstandings of chemistry students regarding the conceptual bases behind their calculations.

According to Paul Buckley, Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and project leader, “By obtaining a direct measure of student performance on conceptual vs. quantitative questions on select general chemistry topics, the department gets a very valuable snapshot of student understanding. These are excellent data for conversations within the department about how to teach and assess student learning in general chemistry.”

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