ChemEd X Talk: Assessment Tools to Examine Students’ Reasoning with Multiple Representations of Bonding

Stacey Lowery Bretz Talk September 29, 2022

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. Our research group has designed a collection of measurement tools to advance our understanding of how students interpret representations for a variety of core concepts. This research has also been translated into novel assessment tools for an atoms-first AP chemistry textbook. Examples will be presented using one of our concept inventories that measures students’ understandings of multiple representations used to depict covalent bonding and ionic bonding.

Participants are encouraged to consider the CERP article, Moving beyond definitions: what student-generated models reveal about their understanding of covalent bonding and ionic bonding, before or after the Talk. (Participants can access the article by creating a free personal account if they don’t have institutional access:


About the Presenter

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.

ChemEd X Talk with Stacey Lowery Bretz - Assessment Tools to Examine Students’ Reasoning with Multiple Representations of Bonding

Thursday, September 29th at 7 pm Central, 8 pm Eastern

This event has already taken place. Please watch for the recording...Coming Soon!

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

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