Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2019

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 09/04/2021

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Cole, Renee S

First Committee Member

Becker, Nicole

Second Committee Member

Daly, Scott

Third Committee Member

Gloer, James

Fourth Committee Member

Schuh, Kathy


Process skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, information processing, teamwork, and communication are important for student success in their coursework and eventually the workplace, but these skills are not always explicitly taught or assessed in undergraduate courses. These skills should be assessed in order to identify areas for student improvement and because assessment practices can provide clear goals to students. However, my analysis of the current literature suggests that instructors do not have the tools necessary to effectively assess and provide feedback on these skills, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) undergraduate courses.

To meet this need of assessing and providing feedback to students, rubrics and other instructional resources have been developed to assess process skills as part of the Enhancing Learning by Improving Process Skills in STEM (ELIPSS) Project. Surveys and interview data indicated that the rubrics were practical for instructors to use to provide feedback to students, represented all relevant aspects of the skills, measured the processes that students used when completing tasks, and could be reliably used by multiple raters.

During rubric development, the resources were propagated to the STEM instructor community, and the effectiveness of the propagation methods were examined. The highest rates of adoption resulted from hearing about the rubrics from a colleague or attending a presentation about the rubrics. Additionally, running the ELIPSS workshops and creating the ELIPSS website that people found from searching the internet each led to moderate adoption rates. These results support the idea that a multifaceted propagation strategy may be most effective for researchers who are developing assessment tools.

When studying the ways in which STEM instructors were implementing the ELIPSS rubrics, it was found that the instructors each developed different strategies that suited their intended learning outcomes and instructional environments by assessing and providing feedback to students in a variety of ways. Instructors with different class sizes, course levels, online course management systems, and access to teaching assistants all adapted the rubric implementation strategy to fit their unique classroom environments. Multiple instructors reported that they were better able to articulate professional skill expectations to their students through the use of the rubrics. Additionally, they were more aware of how their students interacted with one another in groups after using the interaction rubrics. These results indicate that ELIPSS rubrics can encourage more reflective practice in undergraduate instructors by providing them with more information about their students that can be used to modify their teaching methods.

Further work was done to examine how students developed process skills in a first-year chemistry laboratory course. Students in a first-year chemistry laboratory course used the ELIPSS rubrics to assess their own process skills, and they were also assessed by a teaching assistant. Additionally, students reported their understanding of process skills and their perceived improvements over the course of the semester. The results suggest that students understand interpersonal process skills such as teamwork and communication better than they understand cognitive process skills such as critical thinking and information processing. While the evidence further suggests that students improved their process skills, and students reported that they improved their process skills, the students showed inconsistent abilities to self-assess and provide justification for their assessment using rubrics.


Assessment, Chemistry Education, Constructive Alignment, Feedback, Process Skills, Rubrics


xiii, 198 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 142-148).


Copyright © 2019 Gilbert John Reynders

Available for download on Saturday, September 04, 2021

Included in

Chemistry Commons