Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Jennifer E. Lewis


assessment development, cognitive, non-cognitive assessment, factor analysis, higher education, reliability, validity


This work describes three case studies conducted to address two major problems in the area of chemistry education research, the lack of reported psychometrics regarding instrument scores, and the need for well-characterized assessments to evaluate college chemistry curricula.

The first case study describes a psychometric evaluation of the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey (CLASS), an instrument designed to assess student beliefs about the learning of chemistry. Results from this work suggest that the CLASS instrument provides fertile ground for short instruments with reasonable psychometric properties. Responses to a single scale instrument, created from CLASS, showed that students in an introductory general chemistry course tend to be slightly more expert-like than novice-like in their beliefs about chemistry towards the end of the semester.

The second case study discusses the use of a two-tier diagnostic instrument in assessing student understanding of the particulate nature of matter and chemical bonding. In addition to examining psychometric properties of the instrument's scores, this study uses student responses to think about the role of a preparatory chemistry course in promoting understanding of the measured concepts. Results of this study showed that the performance of students with the preparatory chemistry course was slightly better than those without it.

The third case study focuses on the development of the Targeted Misconception Inventory (TMI), a two-tier instrument designed to measure student understanding of Bond Energy, Ionic, Bonding, and Phase Changes. The TMI was used to create an instructional intervention. Results from the intervention suggested a learning gain for Bond Energy concept.

The three instruments discussed above were multiple-choice given as paper and pencil tests in an introductory chemistry course. The work described in this dissertation showcase a method for examining psychometric evidence. The three case studies provide a significant addition to the psychometric information available on existing instruments. This work makes an emphasis on the importance of pilot testing instruments and gathering psychometric information to provide evidence that the instrument is functioning as intended when used with different samples. This work provides a model for researchers to follow when refining an instrument, and implications for the use of assessment tools in chemistry curricula evaluation.

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Chemistry Commons