P158: Evaluation of the use of representations in inquiry-based chemistry instruction
Researchers, administrators, and teachers need a valid way to evaluate the quality of instruction in science classrooms. Several observational protocols have been developed to do this, but none assess the unique features of inquiry-based secondary chemistry instruction. This project aimed to develop such a protocol, with a framework of Johnstone’s triangle of macroscopic, symbolic and particulate representations, as well as a constructivist perspective. The goal was to depict, using the descriptive rubric format of the Electronic Quality of Inquiry Protocol (EQUIP), the possible range of instructional quality, from more teacher-centered to more student centered, over several indicators of representational use in chemistry instruction. Indicators included: (1) who used the representations (teacher or student); (2) the role of representations in improving conceptual understanding; (3) the quality of discourse around the representations used; and (4) the degree to which representational domains (macroscopic, symbolic and particulate) were integrated in the lesson. The qualitative descriptors of the indicators were based on recommendations from the literature for effective representational use in instruction. The protocol was assessed for content validity by a panel of chemistry education researchers, and for reliability with 20 paired observations by two researchers, resulting in a Cohen’s kappa of .71. This protocol, used by itself or in conjunction with an inquiry-based observational protocol such as the EQUIP, can evaluate instructional quality for chemistry education researchers and professional development leaders, provide feedback to chemistry teachers for professional growth, and serve as a model for effective use of representations in chemistry instruction.