Assessment Tools to Examine Students’ Reasoning with Multiple Representations of Bonding with Stacey Lowery Bretz

Assessment Tools to Examine Students’ Reasoning with Multiple Representations of Bonding with Stacey Lowery Bretz (image of Stacey)

Learning chemistry requires students to become fluent in the symbolic language of chemistry. Developing expertise requires that students move beyond manipulating equations and symbols to create explanations with particulate models of matter to explain their observations in the laboratory. Failure to accurately interpret and connect these multiple representations of matter and Johnstone’s Domains – macroscopic, particulate, and symbolic - is one source of students’ misconceptions. Stacey Lowery Bretz shared a wealth of information from her research group including a collection of measurement tools they have designed to advance our understanding of how students interpret representations for a variety of core concepts. In this ChemEd X Talk, Stacey only briefly discussed the research but mostly focused on examples from concept inventories that measure students’ understandings of multiple representations and discussed what that looks like in the classroom. Watch the recording of the presentation and access resources below.


Lowery Bretz ChemEd X Talk 2022

ChemEd X Talk Recording: Edited video of Stacey's September 2022 ChemEd X Talk, ChemEd X Vimeo Channel - (10/02/2022)



Visit the Bretz Research Group website to access Research Publications, Concept Inventories & Multiple Representations and many more resources. Publications specifically referenced in the presentation are linked below. 

  1. Luxford, C.J.; Bretz, S.L. "Moving beyond definitions: what student-generated models reveal about their understanding of covalent bonding and ionic bonding," Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2013,14, 214-222. (Readers can access the article by creating a free personal account if no institutional access:
  2. Luxford, C.J.; Bretz, S.L. "Development of the Bonding Representations Inventory to Identify Student MIsconceptions about Covalent and Ionic Bonding Representations," Journal of Chemical Education, 2014, 91(3), 312-320. (ACS Editor's Choice - freely available without a subscription)
  3. Brandriet, A.R.; Bretz, S.L. "The Development of the Redox Concept Inventory as a Measure of Students' Symbolic and Particulate Redox Understandings and Confidence,” Journal of Chemical Education, 2014, 91(8), 1132-1144.
  4. Abell, T.N.; Bretz, S.L. “Development of the Enthalpy and Entropy in Dissolution and Precipitation InventoryJournal of Chemical Education, 2019, 96(9), 1804–1812.


Research from the Bretz group drives the visualization pedagogy of two general chemistry textbooks from W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., including the first-ever published atoms-focused textbook for AP Chemistry 


About the Presenter

Stacey Lowery Bretz headshot

Stacey Lowery Bretz is a University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Miami University, where she also serves as the Director of Special Projects in the Office of the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success. Born in Sandusky, Ohio, Stacey is a first-gen college graduate. She earned her B.A. in Chemistry from Cornell University (1989), an M.S. in Chemistry from Penn State (1992), and a Ph.D. in chemistry education research at Cornell University (1994). She completed a post-doc in chemistry education research at University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Bretz is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS), a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and an ACE Fellow (American Council on Education). Her research group specializes in the development of assessments to characterize students’ understanding of multiple chemistry representations and learning in the chemistry laboratory. She was honored with the 2020 ACS Award for Achievement in Research on Teaching and Learning of Chemistry. She served on the National Research Council Committee on Discipline-Based Education Research, and she chaired the Gordon Conference on Chemistry Education Research and Practice. She is currently the Immediate Past Chair of the ACS Division of Chemical Education and served as Chair of the Board of Trustees for the ACS Examinations Institute.

Dr. Bretz has been honored with all three of Miami University’s highest faculty distinctions: the Benjamin Harrison Medallion. the E. Phillips Knox Award for Undergraduate Teaching, and the Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Graduate Instruction and Mentoring. She co-authors three chemistry textbooks that feature pedagogy developed from her research, all published by W.W. Norton: two general chemistry textbooks and the first-ever AP chemistry textbook to use an atoms-focused approach.

Stacey has mentored more than 60 post-docs and research students; 15 of her former mentees now teach chemistry at colleges and universities, while another 10 former mentees are successful high school chemistry teachers.

Stacey is married to her high-school sweetheart, Dr. Richard Bretz. Together they have three grown children – Suzannah, Joe, and Mikaela – and a lovable rescue hound named Jazzy.

Follow Stacey on Twitter @SLBCER!

For more information about upcoming Talks and to find recordings of previous Talks visit: ChemEd X Talks, ChemBasics Talks - Schedule and Recordings