First Advisor

Barbera, Jack

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The research presented in this dissertation culminated in a 10-item Thermochemistry Concept Inventory (TCI). The development of the TCI can be divided into two main phases: qualitative studies and quantitative studies. Both phases focused on the primary stakeholders of the TCI, college–level general chemistry instructors and students. Each phase was designed to collect evidence for the validity of the interpretations and uses of TCI testing data. A central use of TCI testing data is to identify student conceptual misunderstandings, which are represented as incorrect options of multiple– choice TCI items. Therefore, quantitative and qualitative studies focused heavily on collecting evidence at the item–level, where important interpretations may be made by TCI users. Qualitative studies included student interviews (N = 28) and online expert surveys (N = 30). Think-aloud student interviews (N = 12) were used to identify conceptual misunderstandings used by students. Novice response process validity interviews (N = 16) helped provide information on how students interpreted and answered TCI items and were the basis of item revisions. Practicing general chemistry instructors (N = 18), or experts, defined boundaries of thermochemistry content included on the TCI. Once TCI items were in the later stages of development, an online version of the TCI was used in expert response process validity survey (N = 12), to provide expert feedback on item content, format and consensus of the correct answer for each item. Quantitative studies included three phases: beta testing of TCI items (N = 280), pilot testing of the a 12-item TCI (N = 485), and a large data collection using a 10-item TCI (N = 1331). In addition to traditional classical test theory analysis, Rasch model analysis was also used for evaluation of testing data at the test and item level. The TCI was administered in both formative assessment (beta and pilot testing) and summative assessment (large data collection), with items performing well in both. One item, item K, did not have acceptable psychometric properties when the TCI was used as a quiz (summative assessment), but was retained in the final version of the TCI based on the acceptable psychometric properties displayed in pilot testing (formative assessment).

Abstract Format



Thermochemistry; Chemistry -- Study and teaching


272 pages

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