Stacy Group

Chemical Education in Chemistry
at UC Berkeley

Promoting Teaching and Learning for Understanding of Chemistry

The chemical education group is involved in the development of chemistry curriculum materials for high school and college level classrooms, as well as in the development of assessment instruments to measure conceptual understanding of students. Our goal is to promote teaching and learning for understanding of chemistry by developing innovate teaching materials (Living By Chemistry, ChemConnections, and ChemTA), assessment instruments (ChemQuery) and lead in the dissemination of current research findings in teaching and learning (Multi-Initiative Dissemination). Other related projects include research in characterizing and measuring students’ explanations and the development of an assessment instrument for teaching styles.

Living By Chemistry (LBC) is an innovative high school chemistry curriculum project designed by chemists and chemistry educators at the University of California, Berkeley. LBC takes a distinctive approach to teaching chemistry, one that is student centered and teacher facilitated. This curriculum encourages an active exchange of ideas between students, as well as between students and instructors. To support this interactive learning process we provide a set of instructional materials that will consist of three main elements: teacher materials, student guide and a textbook for six units we are designing.

The ModularCHEM Consortium (MC2) and ChemLinks, two of the National Science Foundation's Systemic Change Initiatives in Chemistry combined to form ChemConnections. These projects developed topical modules for the first two years of the college chemistry curriculum that start with relevant real-world questions and develop the chemistry needed to answer them.  In the process, students model how chemistry is actually done and discover connections between chemistry and other sciences, technology, and society.  In order to develop critical thinking skills as well as to cover the chemical content, modules feature student-centered active and collaborative learning activities and inquiry-based laboratory and media projects. The modules are available from W. W. Norton. Information about examination copies or testing modules can be found at:

The ChemTA Project develops a handbook for general chemistry discussions for a first year college chemistry course which is designed to encourage students to explore the ideas covered in general chemistry more fully. We envision that the handbook will be used as a tool for discussions after the students have been introduced to the materials in class and from reading their textbook. Each discussion is intended for a one-hour session guided by an instructor. Students work in small groups and explain their answers to classmates and to the instructor. We believe that when the students explain and defend their ideas, it promotes a deeper understanding of the ideas.

ChemQuery is an assessment project that has framed the “big ideas” of chemistry in order to provide developmental cohesion and promote conceptual understanding for students. This framework, called Perspectives of Chemists, informs on patterns and characteristics of the “conceptual change space” in the domain. The framework is based on integrating conceptual change theory with National and California State Science Standards, expert opinion, teacher interviews and classroom observations. The Perspectives framework has now been used to analyze progressions of student understanding at the high school and university level. For more information please read: “Perspectives of Chemists: Tracking conceptual understanding of student learning at the secondary and university levels.” (Add link to paper).

The Multi-Initiative Dissemination (MID) Project is a NSF-funded project that introduces chemistry faculty to research findings about teaching and learning as well as an innovative variety of tested models, approaches, materials, and tools from each of the NSF funded Systemic Change Initiatives in Chemistry.  This is accomplished by 1.5 day workshops in geographically diverse locations that provide faculty with the opportunity for hands on experiences to evaluate these new approaches and adapt them to their own teaching environment.  The workshops also facilitate the building of regional networks of chemistry faculty engaged in curricular reform.

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© 2008 Angelica M. Stacy. All rights reserved.