P636: Algorithmic and conceptual questions and their ratios on teacher created chemistry exams
The goal of this study was to investigate the ratio of conceptual questions and algorithmic questions teachers pose to their students on teacher-written chemistry exams. Past studies have shown students correctly answer algorithmic questions on exams more often than correctly answering conceptual questions, but no studies have examined the ratios of questions asked on exams written by teachers. This study was conducted by acquiring blank exams from high school chemistry teachers, introductory college chemistry, and first term general chemistry college courses and analyzing each question to determine what type of question was being asked. Questions were then categorized as definition, algorithmic, or conceptual. It was found that, in general, algorithmic questions appear more frequently than conceptual questions. The overall ratio of percent algorithmic to percent conceptual questions was found to be nearly 3.5:1. Statistical analysis of the tests shows the average number of algorithmic questions per test to be higher than average number of conceptual questions per exam. These results were found to be statistically significant in six of the seven classes examined. Student conceptual understanding may improve if teachers look at their goals and chemistry course standards to make sure that conceptual understanding is a significant part of those goals and then ensure their exams are aligned with those goals.