September 2, 2020
Dr. Maia Popova (Chemistry & Biochemistry) received new funding from the National Science Foundation for the project “BCSER: Developing expertise in educational testing to support characterizing the impact of organic chemistry instruction on students’ ability to reason with representations.”
Learning and communicating with representations is an essential component of chemistry instruction. The process of successfully using multiple representations in order to think about, communicate, and create meaning for a phenomenon defines representational competence. Although a wide body of literature has focused on exploring organic chemistry students’ representational competence skills, no studies have examined organic chemistry instructors’ teaching beliefs and classroom practices toward developing student representational competence.
The main goal of this project is the development of Popova’s expertise in educational measurement to compliment her competency in qualitative research. This project will advance Popova’s long-term career goals of conducting exploratory research that asks fundamental questions about the relationships between chemistry faculty instruction and student ability to reason with representations. To accomplish this goal, an assessment instrument is needed that will provide insight about student representational competence skills.
The overall objective of this project is the development of Popova’s competency in educational measurement. Achievement of this objective will be accomplished through meeting both research and professional development goals. The research goals include the design and evaluation of the Organic Chemistry Representational Competence Assessment (ORCA) instrument. ORCA will measure student representational competence skills in the context of dash-wedge representations, Newman projections, and chair conformations. The targeted skills to be measured include: the ability (a) to interpret these representations, (b) to select appropriate representation for a particular purpose, (c) to make connections across these representations, and (d) to use these representations to make predictions about chemical phenomena. The professional development goals are two-fold: (1) to undergo mentoring by Dr. Jeffrey R. Raker, an expert in the assessment of content and evaluation of affect in both post-secondary organic chemistry and inorganic chemistry courses and (2) to complete the necessary coursework to develop my proficiency in Classical Test Theory, Generalizability Theory, Item Response Theory, and factor analysis.