Professional Development Aligned with AP Chemistry Curriculum: Promoting Science Practices and Facilitating Enduring Conceptual Understanding

The recent revisions to the advanced placement (AP) chemistry curriculum promote deep conceptual understanding of chemistry content over more rote memorization of facts and algorithmic problem solving. For many teachers, this will mean moving away from traditional worksheets and verification lab activities that they have used to address the vast amounts of content in the AP chemistry course. Moreover, a substantial shift in teachers’ beliefs about teaching and learning of chemistry will be needed to facilitate the transformation of their instructional practices. Research has shown that such substantial shifts in beliefs and practices also requires a shift in professional development (PD) models, away from the traditional one-day to one-week workshops and toward PD that is sustained, coherent, content- and inquiry-focused, and supported. This paper uses the Target Inquiry (TI) program as an example of this latter type of PD to highlight important considerations in developing PD experiences that will support teachers in making the instructional changes called for by the revised AP curriculum. Additionally, this paper introduces AP chemistry teachers to a set of inquiry-based chemistry activities designed and tested by teachers who have completed the TI program. A key feature of these activities is the effective blending of both chemistry content and science practices. TI teacher-developed activities, as well as teacher interviews, indicate an inclusion of more particulate-level modeling and a focus on student conceptual understanding that is strongly aligned with the revised AP curriculum. This contribution is part of a special issue on teaching introductory chemistry in the context of the advanced placement (AP) chemistry course redesign.

Herrington, D. & Yezierski, E. (2014). Professional development aligned with AP Chemistry curriculum: Promoting science practices and facilitating enduring conceptual understanding. Journal of Chemical Education, 91(9), 1368-1374, DOI: 10.1021/ed5000668