Supporting Chemistry Teachers to Assess and Foster Chemical Thinking

The fundamental purpose of this project is to develop, implement, and study a professional development (PD) model for improving chemistry teachers' formative assessment practices to foster teaching focused on chemical thinking.

Full Description: 

This is a design and development study submitted to the teaching strand of the Discovery Research PreK-12 (DRK-12) program; responsive to Program Solicitation NSF 15-592. The DRK-12 program seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by PreK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of STEM education innovations and approaches. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

The fundamental purpose of this project is to develop, implement, and study a professional development (PD) model for improving chemistry teachers' formative assessment practices to foster teaching focused on chemical thinking. The PD model seeks to refocus and enhance teachers' abilities to notice, interpret, and respond to students' ideas. Building on previous exploratory work through which a Chemical Thinking Framework was developed, the proposed effort will work with 8th-12th grade teachers in Boston Public Schools and the New England Region to assist them (a) to recognize tools that are useful in eliciting students' chemical thinking, and adapt or design formative assessments; (b) to make sense of students' chemical thinking based on data collected using formative assessments that elicit students' thinking; and (c) to strategize responsive actions that better foster learning chemistry. The research questions will be: (1) How does chemistry teachers' assessment reasoning change through engagement in PD that focuses on formative assessment as a transformative lever?; and (2) How does engagement in the proposed PD activities influence the ideas and practices that teachers emphasize in their classrooms?

In order to address the research questions, the project will develop a yearlong PD model with four cohorts of 8th-12th grade teachers, including one cohort with teachers from the New England region in a hybrid format (face-to-face and online); each having six teachers (N=24). The model development will be conducted in three phases. In Phase 1, the research team will develop a detailed plan for the PD program by designing and testing conceptualized activities. During Phase 2, the project will study the model with Cohorts 1 and 2 teachers. Phase 3 will focus on positioning the model for scaling up purposes with Cohorts 3 and 4. This phase will test the resources developed, and make comparisons to assess the scalability of the model. Data gathering strategies will include: (a) focus groups to collect data on teachers' assessment reasoning while collectively analyzing students' written work and videos of assessment practice; (b) assessment portfolios to gather individual data on teacher assessment reasoning and practice; (c) assessment snapshots to capture individual teachers' interactions with students; and (d) follow-up sessions to observe and videotape teachers during the year. Data interpretation strategies will include: (a) analysis of domain-neutral factors to characterize changes in how teachers frame and approach assessment of student understanding; and (b) analysis of domain-dependent factors to characterize changes in teachers' attention to the disciplinary ideas of students' work according to the Chemical Thinking Framework. The project will include an external evaluator to address both formative and summative components of this process. The outcome of the proposed scope of work will be a research-informed and field-tested PD model focused on the use of formative assessment to improve chemistry teaching and learning.

Project Materials

Title Type Post date
Teaching About Energy Resource 12/13/2018 - 8:48pm