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Equitable Assessment Design

Overall, these studies examine equitable assessment design practices in undergraduate introductory chemistry courses, particularly for students with inequitable access to mathematics. 

The studies look at:

  1. topics that pose challenges for students with low math aptitude, 

  2. reasons for differential performance of these students, 

  3. the impact of using different representations in assessments, 

  4. emphasizing chemistry concepts versus mathematical skills in assessments, 

  5. the role of stoichiometry as a foundation of introductory courses, and 

  6. how assessing mechanistic reasoning could support more equitable achievement.

Study 1 examined which first-semester general chemistry topics were particularly challenging for students with low SAT math scores. We found these students struggled consistently across topics but especially with mole concept and stoichiometry.

In Study 2, we sought to go beyond which topics were inequitable to answer why they were inequitable. We were surprised at the result: differences in performance could not be attributed predominately to differences in aptitude with mathematics. Instead, student surveys and assessment psychometrics suggested students with higher math test scores could often get correct answers through implausible methods, while lower math aptitude students struggled to conceptualize algorithms.

References and Resources

(1) Rosa, V.; Lewis, S. E. Chemistry Topics Posing Incommensurate Difficulty to Students with Low Math Aptitude Scores. Chem. Educ. Res. Pract. 2018, 19 (3), 867–884.

Chemistry topics posing incommensurate difficulty to students with low math aptitude score
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(2) Rosa, V.; Lewis, S. E. An Explanative Basis for the Differential Performance of Students with Low Math Aptitude in General Chemistry. Chem. Educ. Res. Pract. 2019, 20 (3), 570–593.

An explanative basis for the differential performance of students with low math aptitude i
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