Date of Award

December 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Kristen L. Murphy

Committee Members

Joseph H. Aldstadt, Peter Geissinger, Kristen L. Murphy, Karen Knaus


Assessment, Cognitive Load, Formative, Knowledge, Rapid, Schema


Understanding how students go about problem solving in chemistry lends many possible advantages for interventions in teaching strategies for the college classroom. The work presented here is the development of an in-classroom, real-time, formative instrument to assess student expertise in chemistry with the purpose of developing classroom interventions. The development of appropriate interventions requires the understanding of how students go about starting to solve tasks presented to them, what their mental effort (load on working memory) is, and whether or not their performance was accurate. To measure this, the Rapid Knowledge Assessment (RKA) instrument uses clickers (handheld electronic instruments for submitting answers) as a means of data collection. The classroom data was used to develop an algorithm to deliver student assessment scores, which when correlated to external measure of standardized American Chemical Society (ACS) examinations and class score show a significant relationship between the accuracy of knowledge assessment (p=0.000). Use of eye-tracking technology and student interviews supports the measurements found in the classroom.