chemical education research, formative assessment, general chemistry.




Formative assessment is critical in providing students the opportunity to self-assess their content knowledge and providing data to inform instructional decisions. It also provides students with information about course expectations. If, as called for in numerous science instruction reform efforts, we expect students to be able to apply their chemistry knowledge to analyze data and construct coherent explanations, then not only must summative assessments include items that require this of students, but students must also be provided with frequent and ongoing opportunities to individually practice this difficult task and receive feedback. Although online homework systems can be quite effective at providing students with feedback regarding their mastery of basic skills, it is typically less useful in providing meaningful feedback on constructed student explanations. This study examined the impact of providing students with frequent out-of-class formative assessment activities initiated by text messages. Student responses were then used to facilitate in-class instruction. Increased student participation in these formative assessment tasks correlated positively with success on exams even after accounting for student prior knowledge. There was also evidence that students increased their ability to construct complete explanation over the course of the semester. All results were consistent across two different institutions and three instructors.

Original Citation

Sweeder, R.D. & Herrington, D.G. (2020 Editor’s Choice). Formative assessments using text messages to develop students’ ability to provide causal reasoning in general chemistry. Canadian Journal of Chemistry. 98(1), 15-23. doi: 10.1139/cjc-2019-0291

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