What Prospective Chemistry Teachers Know about Chemistry: An Analysis of Praxis Chemistry Subject Assessment Category Performance
Acquiring sufficient content knowledge to lead effectively in the classroom is one of the greatest challenges for beginning teachers. National and state agencies have made significant investments in content-specific induction supports, but these efforts have not been informed by any empirical evidence regarding the topic-level content knowledge of novice teachers. Here we analyze category-level data from the Praxis Chemistry Subject Assessment from May 2006 to June 2016 to determine the areas of general strength and weakness among examinees and explore differences in categorical performance by test-taker demographics. Examinees have generally performed well in the area of “Atomic and Nuclear Structure” and appear to have struggled most in the area of “Solutions and Solubility; Acid–Base Chemistry”. Across categories, estimates of academic preparation (e.g., undergraduate GPA, undergraduate major, and graduate major) have explained a large proportion of variance in examinee performance, although demographic characteristics such as gender and race or ethnicity were more explanatory in certain categories, such as “Atomic and Nuclear Structure”. Chemistry majors were the top performers in almost all categories, and education majors underperformed, often at the level of non-STEM majors, across all topics. The findings from this work should inform both professional development efforts for beginning teachers as well as instructional reform at the undergraduate level.
Journal of Chemical Education
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