Session Type

Presentation

Start Date

7-7-2011 10:30 AM

Keywords

Item Response Theory, multiple choice exams, measurement instruments

Primary Threads

Evaluation of Learning

Abstract

As science educators, we share an interest in developing curricular and pedagogical approaches to improve student education. While I have tried to be novel and interesting in the Chemistry classes I have taught during the past two decades, I have felt a nagging uncertainty of whether or not my activities have made a real difference in the chemical knowledge, skills, or values acquired by my students.
Instructors must be prepared to measure student learning in a way that can chart a clearer course towards measurable improvements. The problem that often afflicts natural science educators is that the teaching and learning of the natural sciences is, paradoxically, a social science activity. Behavioural and educational psychologists have developed ways to measure learning and if natural science education is to move forward in a big way, it is my belief that science educators in all disciplines must learn to use and implement these tools.
Classical Test Theory is a common approach to evaluate the reliability and validity of an exam. Modern psychometrics (the science of measuring psychological attributes such as learning) is developing newer approaches such as Item Response Theory and Rasch Modelling to gain even deeper insight. I will discuss my recent efforts to implement these theories to analyze the multiple choice exams given annually to the 2220 first year students taking General Chemistry at Guelph. A better understanding of our examinations will lead to better learning measurement instruments that can guide our choices of novel pedagogies and a creative curriculum.


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Jul 7th, 10:30 AM

Strengthening Our Measurement Instruments in Science Education

As science educators, we share an interest in developing curricular and pedagogical approaches to improve student education. While I have tried to be novel and interesting in the Chemistry classes I have taught during the past two decades, I have felt a nagging uncertainty of whether or not my activities have made a real difference in the chemical knowledge, skills, or values acquired by my students.
Instructors must be prepared to measure student learning in a way that can chart a clearer course towards measurable improvements. The problem that often afflicts natural science educators is that the teaching and learning of the natural sciences is, paradoxically, a social science activity. Behavioural and educational psychologists have developed ways to measure learning and if natural science education is to move forward in a big way, it is my belief that science educators in all disciplines must learn to use and implement these tools.
Classical Test Theory is a common approach to evaluate the reliability and validity of an exam. Modern psychometrics (the science of measuring psychological attributes such as learning) is developing newer approaches such as Item Response Theory and Rasch Modelling to gain even deeper insight. I will discuss my recent efforts to implement these theories to analyze the multiple choice exams given annually to the 2220 first year students taking General Chemistry at Guelph. A better understanding of our examinations will lead to better learning measurement instruments that can guide our choices of novel pedagogies and a creative curriculum.