First Advisor

Jack Barbera

Term of Graduation

Spring 2022

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Chemistry






Chemistry -- Curricula -- Evaluation, Chemistry -- Study and teaching (Higher), Education -- Aims and objectives



Physical Description

1 online resource (xv, 283 pages)


While it is still common in college chemistry to assess student learning and skill with summative assessments, the CER community does not currently have a simple tool to determine and communicate whether an assessment is actually aligned with the outcomes of interest. In particular, as so-called evidence-based teaching practices and active learning strategies gain a foothold in college chemistry classrooms, the ability to communicate whether those (often labor-, cost-, and time-intensive) interventions are not only aligned with course outcomes, but also provide measurable benefit to students becomes more imperative. While college chemistry has made some strides in the area of categorizing chemistry-specific cognitive skills, this work is largely disjointed and repetitive, making it difficult for community members to know what resources they have available, and how useful they are. This study developed a taxonomy of college chemistry problems, the Blooming Chemistry Tool (BCT), modeled after a successful discipline-specific translation of Bloom's taxonomy in college biology, but based on previous work in chemistry-specific cognitive skills. Once developed, the BCT was used in a qualitative study with members of the CER community to gain insight on how they engage with learning taxonomies and how they saw the BCT fitting into the greater CER landscape. Interviewee suggestions for uses of the BCT spanned all components of the CER community--there were proposed uses for researchers, practitioners, and students, though there was the most consensus that due to its accessibility and ubiquity, that the BCT had the most potential as a tool for instructor training. The most significant finding from this study was that interview data suggests college chemistry assessment items do not have a single inherent sorting within the BCT dimensions--it really is all about context--which also means that the BCT could better establish another use for learning taxonomies: to structure the context necessary to compare classroom environments. However, while it was clear that all interviewees saw value for more consistent use of a learning taxonomy in CER, it's possible that the BCT may not meet that need for the CER community. While Bloom's taxonomy's quality of "brand recognition" was considered to be a positive attribute when selecting a base learning taxonomy for this project, it also means there would be "bad press" surrounding the still-widely-held criticisms of Bloom's original publication with which to engage when convincing CER community members that the BCT is both a useful and an acceptable tool.


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