Understanding how to measure student learning and attitudes is essential in order to have effective chemistry education. Assessment instruments can be designed to determine a student’s proficiency in a skill, their conceptual understanding of a topic, or their motivation to persist. Measurement approaches can also help researchers and instructors determine important foundational topics in a subject, such as biochemistry, and begin to formulate methods of intervention and curriculum implementation. Our research includes a focus on applying standards for educational and psychological measurement to research in chemistry education. Ultimately, our work has pointed toward the need for robust ways of measuring variables of interest in chemistry education research.
Evaluation is the practice of determining whether desired outcomes have been met. It can be applied to a classroom, to a curriculum, to an individual learning goal, or broadly to a large and complex program. Current evaluation work in the group focuses on the evaluation of funded NSF projects, for example, to determine whether a project designed to benefit students at Spelman College is meeting its aims. Previous and current research has also evaluated the effectiveness of the POGIL model in undergraduate biochemistry courses.
The affective domain encompasses the attitudes and feelings of students toward the subject that they are learning. Understanding student attitudes toward chemistry topics can give us insight into student learning and their subsequent success in their undergraduate coursework. Additionally, gaining an understanding of how student’s attitudes may affect their success can allow instructors to put in measures to curtail attrition rates within STEM fields. Current research is looking at how student attitudes affect their success in undergraduate biochemistry. Previous research in the lab has focused on differences in student attitude toward chemistry as a function of their cultural background.