In this ChemEd X Conference session presentation, we discuss our work, and what we have learned from it, since 2012, through two phases of a professional development and research collaboration among middle and high school chemistry teachers and university chemistry education researchers. Our work focuses on students’ development of chemical thinking from middle school through undergraduate education and on teachers’ formative assessment practices in support of their students’ growth in chemical thinking. Chemical thinking is the knowledge, reasoning, and practices that characterize the chemical enterprise. It involves the elaboration and application of chemical knowledge and practices with the intent to analyze, synthesize, and transform matter for practical purpose. Our work proceeds along three main lines:
- we study progress in how students develop chemical thinking,
- we create and improve resources, tools, and professional development for teachers of chemistry to support and foster students’ chemical thinking, and
- we study how chemistry teachers’ assessment practices evolve as formative assessment is used as a lever for developing more responsive practices in teaching chemistry.
The collaboration convenes a community of practice that merges educational research and practice. Through this work, we have learned about affordances and constraints of collaborative professional development, and ways in which teachers’ assessment practices shift toward more research-based practice. Our studies of students’ chemical thinking uncovered patterns in how students make decisions using chemical knowledge, based on which we recommend stepping stones to help teachers support students’ chemical identity, structure-property relationships, and benefits-costs-risks reasoning in real-world problems. In examining teachers’ evaluations of student responses to chemistry formative assessments, we found that what teachers notice and how they interpret it is largely independent of how they act on what they learn about student thinking. This defined four main approaches to formative assessment, ranging from more prescriptive to more responsive in each dimension, from which we built composite personalities based on the motivations teachers expressed for the behaviors they adopted.
Collaborative Professional Development in Chemistry Education Research: Bridging the Gap between Research and Practice
Gabriela Szteinberg, Scott Balicki, Gregory Banks, Michael Clinchot, Steven Cullipher, Robert Huie, Jennifer Lambertz, Rebecca Lewis, Courtney Ngai, Melissa Weinrich, Vicente Talanquer, and Hannah Sevian
Journal of Chemical Education 2014 91 (9), 1401-1408
This research and development project is supported by the National Science Foundation, awards 1222624, 1221494, and 1621228.