ACCT

Assessing for Change in Chemical Thinking (ACCT) is an NSF-funded, research-practice partnership focused on fostering chemical thinking in middle school, high school, and undergraduate science classrooms using formative assessment strategies. ChemEd X has partnered with ACCT to disseminate the program materials, as it aligns with their mission of making digital chemistry teaching content and resources accessible. We encourage you to explore the ten session professional development series, (including facilitation guides, slides, and resources) once the research on them has been completed in May of 2022. In the meantime, the blog posts on formative assessments and the core program elements are accessible through the ChemEd X platform, free of charge. For inquiries, please contact ACCT at

Our collection here on ChemEd X includes:

Together with ChemEd X, we strive to empower teachers of chemistry to Xplore, Xtend, and Xperience.

“How can the effects be controlled”? Is a question that involves making choices about which internal and external parameters to modify to maximize benefits and minimize costs and risks. While outcomes can be predicted based on models, in real processes there are often many variables which cannot be easily controlled, and many conditions that constrain the processes. Feedback loops of testing and refining are often used, resulting in design processes that converge on a desired outcome (maximizing, minimizing, or stabilizing output), usually making tradeoffs among different properties (such as price, quality, safety, and environmental impact). This chemical thinking question is often central to design activities, such as producing biomass or reducing the toxicity of combustion exhaust fumes. 

“What are the effects of using and producing different matter types?” is a question of consequence evaluation, because chemistry depends on context and affects the human experience. The life cycles of materials, including production, consumption, and disposal, have benefits, costs, and risks in many dimensions. These include social, economic, political, ethical, environmental, and ecological consequences. While the ultimate aim of chemistry is to improve the human condition, the design of chemical processes involves making decisions based on limiting consumption of energy, using renewable resources, and reducing or eliminating production of toxic byproducts. This chemical thinking question is often central to sustainable action work, such as evaluating which refrigerants are better than Freon, or designing a greener battery.

Check out some ACCT team members' blogs to learn more about doing formative assessments.

Teachers' use of formative assessment is widely known to improve student learning. However, teachers enact formative assessment in many ways. How can chemistry teachers be more versatile and intentional in how we enact formative assessment so that we can maximize student learning by increasing their opportunities to learn? Our ACCT research and professional development partnership is aimed at learning the answers to this, and providing resources for chemistry teachers to enact formative assessment in the most effective ways. 

The aim of the formative assessment enactment model is to offer a practical resource for teachers to support students’ sense making. The model was derived from rigorous analysis of classroom videos of experienced science teachers doing formative assessment activities with their students. The model offers a structure of how different kinds of teaching moves are enacted, as well as characterizes the overall structure of formative assessment that science teachers enact. Excellent science teachers have a broad repertoire and use all of these different kinds of teaching moves in different moments, depending on the in-the-moment purposes that teachers have which are shaped by knowing the specific students and the challenges they are facing at that moment, as well as in the context of the overall lesson purposes.

There are characteristic ways that middle and high school chemistry teachers pay attention to students' written work (noticing and interpreting) and plan on following up on what they interpret (acting). These can be organized as different "formative assessment personalities" that are approaches that are often taken by teachers, based on noticing/interpreting and on acting in either prescriptive or responsive ways. This article highlights four "personalities", focusing on the affordances that each personality could bring to a teaching moment. Making decisions based on which affordances we want to leverage in a particular moment with a certain student gives us the ability to be more intentional in deciding the teaching moves we use.

Check out some ACCT team members' blogs to learn more about enacting formative assessment.

Read about our rationale for the development of the Chemical Thinking framework here.

Here you can learn about the Chemical Thinking Learning Progression (CTLP) project that spawned the Assessing for Change in Chemical Thinking (ACCT) project.

Here you can read a description of the Chemical Identity thread of the Chemical Thinking framework.