Chemistry and Education: Instructional and Assessment Strategies to Improve Knowledge Retention

Breche' Wells


The purpose of this research project was to analyze the General Chemistry course sequence for Majors at Spelman College that has been revised using a semi-self paced, blended format that incorporates innovative instructional and assessment strategies.  Quantitative and qualitative data were analyzed to determine the impact on concept mastery and student knowledge retention.  Instructional strategies involved online content delivery, freeing class time for team-based activities such as Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) worksheets, case studies, and problem-solving sessions.  Concept mastery was measured through “gated” chapter tests, which allow students multiple attempts at passing a test with a score of 85 or better.  Knowledge retention was measured based on the standardized ACS General Chemistry First Term and Full Year exams given at the end of each fall and spring semester, respectively.  The fall semester average final exam test scores increased from 39.1 (out of a maximum of 70 points) averaged over the 3-year period of 2010-2012 to an average score of 44.1 in fall 2013 for the Majors-only course.  The spring semester cumulative final exam average test scores increased from 34.8 averaged over the 2011 and 2012 spring semesters to 42.8 in spring 2013. Over the four academic years 2010-2014, the fall semester average ACS final exam test scores for the majors-only course (CHE 111) increased by 30.3%, on average, as compared to the final exam scores earned by other science/pre-health concentration students enrolled in other sections of the same course.  On average, the spring semester cumulative ACS final exam average test scores for the majors CHE 112 course increased by 26.6%, as compared to the other sections.  Qualitative measures of student attitudes and perceptions were also obtained using a Qualtrics survey, which was sent to all students who had enrolled in the Majors-only courses. The data from the survey showed how students felt about the gated test system. Many students agreed that the gated test system was effective when developing concept mastery.


Chemical Education; Blended Course; ACS Exam; ANOVA

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