SRI International Discovery Research K-12

chemfacets_logo Chemistry Facets: Formative Assessment to Improve Student Understanding in Chemistry

Project Personnel:

Angela Haydel Debarger , PI
Tina Stanford

Carlos Ayala, Co-PI

FACET Innovations:
Jim Minstrell, Co-PI


Heller Research Associates
[Project Evaluation] 





Project #: DRK12-0733169
Project Start Date: 9/15/2007



Supported by research on students' preconceptions, particularly in science, and their need to build on the knowledge and skills that students bring to the classroom, this proposal plans to implement a facets-of-thinking perspective for the improvement of formative assessment, learning, and instruction in high school chemistry. Its goals are: (1) to identify and develop clusters of facets (students' ideas and understandings) related to key high school chemistry concepts; (2) to develop assessment items that diagnose facets within each cluster; (3) to enhance the existing web-based Diagnoser assessment system for administering items, reporting results, and providing teacher resource materials for interpreting and using the assessment data; (4) to develop teacher professional development and resource materials to support their use of facet-based approaches in chemistry; and (5) to examine whether student learning in chemistry improves in classes that incorporate a facet-based assessment system.

The proposed work builds on previously NSF-funded projects focused on (1) designing Diagnoser (ESI-0435727) in the area of physics, and (2) assessment development to support the transition to complex science learning (REC-0129406). The work plan is organized in three strands: (1) Assessment Development, consisting of (a) development and validation of 20 facet clusters related to Reactions and Interactions, and Energy Sources and Transformations during the first three years through cognitive interviews, and (b) development and validation of 20 items per facet cluster, including their administration to chemistry classes; (2) Professional Development, through which materials will be produced for a five-day teacher workshop focused on the assessment-for-learning cycle; and (3) Technology Development, to upgrade the existing Diagnoser (in physics) in order to include chemistry tasks.

Anticipated sets of products include: (a) 8-10 validated facet clusters related to Reactions and Interactions, 8-10 validated facet clusters related to Energy Sources and Transformations, and 12-20 validated items per facet clusters; (b) 1-3 elicitation questions, 1-3 developmental lessons, and 1-3 prescriptive lessons related to each Reactions and Interactions, and Energy Sources and Transformations facet clusters, and a framework for professional development using these content resources; and (c) a web-based Diagnoser for chemistry, including student assessments and teacher resource materials.

The evaluation plan consists of three components: (1) a small-scale experimental study to examine the efficacy of the use of Diagnoser with Washington and California high school chemistry students and teachers, (2) an Advisory Board to monitor and assess the work, and (3) an external evaluator who will assess the facet and item development, as well as factors affecting Diagnoser implementation. Dissemination includes free web-based availability via Diagnoser, and workshops and presentations at national meetings.