The goal of this project is to improve student performance in gateway chemistry courses and promote their persistence in STEM fields, particularly for students from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM fields. Over 100,000 students take chemistry courses in California annually in all three higher education state systems and General chemistry courses are generally viewed as the gateway classes for most students pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. These classes are critical for the education of students in most STEM majors including biology, geology, astronomy, physics, medicine, engineering, materials science, and many other fields of study. Yet there is a substantial disparity in outcomes based on combinations of demographic characteristics including race/ethnicity, first generation in college, and low income that is particularly manifest in gateway courses such as introductory and organic chemistry.
The project team seeks to directly improve outcomes for disadvantaged student groups in California by using technology-enabled adaptive learning to improve access to quality General Chemistry education for the State’s disadvantaged and underrepresented student populations. While multiple factors contribute to the inequity among these populations that are pursuing STEM education, two principal factors are (a) the detrimental influence of rising costs of effective post-secondary education that preferentially impact these less-affluent groups, and (b) lack of effective student engagement in STEM subjects.
The project will address these factors by developing and widely distributing an open-education-resource (OER) adaptive learning platform that will be freely available to students without charge. The project team will further develop culturally sensitive adaptive learning homework modules for the entire General Chemistry sequence. These modules will allow for editing by instructors to meet the needs of their students and classrooms. They will also feature instructional videos that feature student and faculty presenters of different sexes, ethnic groups, ages and majors. These adaptive learning modules will be developed to complement existing open-source texts within the LibreTexts platform – California’s most popular resource for students accessing chemistry content.
This project includes a project team of ten faculty members and will impact approximately 8,000 students annually in Years 2 and 3.