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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 14 Issue 4 (2008) pp 180-189

The Concept Inventory as a Diagnostic of Understanding and Achievement in a Year-Long Organic Chemistry Course

David P. Cartrette* and Mitchell R. Dobberpuhl

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD 57007,
Received July 14, 2008. Accepted July 1, 2009.

Published online: 31 December 2009

Abstract. Historically, students have not been directly involved in the process of assessment. While the concept of students assessing their understanding, achievement, and performance in a class is not necessarily new, instructors often struggle with determining which methods of assessment should involve students. Student self-assessment has been lauded as a good idea because it allows students to reflect on their understanding or achievement in a given course. The use of self-assessment strategies are reported in this study. Using a concept inventory instrument, based on that of Young and Tamir [1] students enrolled in sequential organic chemistry courses were asked to critically evaluate their level of understanding of several core concepts from each class (Organic Chemistry I and II). The results from each course were statistically analyzed to determine if differences in self-reported understanding existed based on gender or section enrollment (honors or general enrollment). Further analysis of the data indicated correlations between concepts within and across the two courses. Results indicated that males and females reported similar levels of understanding, but significant differences were noted among responses to several conceptual questions when section enrollment was the variable in question.

Key Words: In the Classroom; general chemistry

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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Issue date: Dec, 31, 2009

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