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Institute for Chemistry Literacy through Computational Science: Measuring teacher effectiveness in using computational tools and student-centered methods in high school chemistry.


The Institute for Chemistry Literacy through Computational Science (ICLCS) provides and evaluates the effectiveness of professional development in computational chemistry education for rural Illinois high school chemistry teachers. Teachers receive over 300 hours of professional development at summer residential institutes and in a virtual professional learning environment. Goals of the project include increasing chemistry content knowledge of teachers and students, the use of computational tools in the classroom, inquiry and other student-centered scientific teaching methods, and partnerships among teachers and including University science and education experts.

The evaluation is showing that teachers gain computational competence and confidence, and chemistry content knowledge. The most interesting recent results are from a hierarchical regression on student achievement defined as scores on a traditional type of achievement test namely, a national chemistry exam for high school students developed by the American Chemical Society. Despite the traditional nature of that measure, the adjusted cumulative R-squared indicated that the regression model was able to explain 56% of the observed variance in student achievement using only teacher-related predictors. Moreover, 31% of the variance in student achievement was specifically attributable to how often teachers had employed certain student-centered instructional strategies, namely, problem-based learning and the use of computational tools in inquiry lessons as a demonstration and in relatively structured inquiry activities during class.