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An explanative basis for the differential performance of students with low math aptitude in general chemistry

Chemistry Education Research and Practice

May 23, 2019


In a previous study, we examined which topics were particularly inequitable for students with lower math test scores. 

In this study, we explored why these students performed differently in general chemistry. Surveys of students and psychometrics from assessments suggest those with higher math test scores could often get correct answers through implausible methods, while students with lower math test scores struggled to conceptualize algorithms. 

Implications for equitable assessment design include considering what we're really measuring with our chemistry assessments and strategies to design assessments emphasizing concepts over rote algorithms that capitalize on students' past experiences with mathematics rather than their understanding of fundamental chemistry concepts.

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