2011 S3: Eliscia Fought

Do you speak Chemistry? Assessing the degree of inconsistency between expert and novice interpretations of exam questions

A prominent theme in education research today is the reliability and validity of exam questions.  Educators are faced with the enormous task of writing exam questions that not only test the appropriate concepts, but also ensure that every student will interpret the questions in the intended way.  There are numerous factors that contribute to the misinterpretation of exam questions.  The purpose of this study is to determine what the most significant factors are, and the best to prevent them. 

To help identify the differences in interpretations between experts and novices, we are looking at one specific chemistry course, CHM 116.  We will be conducting a series of interviews with both faculty who have taught CHM 116, as well as students who have passed CHM 116 all within the last five years.  The purpose of the faculty interviews will be to determine how faculty interpret difficulty and clarity of exam questions, and the process they go through when creating exams.  The purpose of the student interviews will be to determine how students interpret difficulty and clarity of exam questions, and to explore the exam-taking experiences students have had in the discipline.

Faculty Mentor: Nathan Barrows, Chemistry