Chemistry Adaptive Learning

This project seeks to develop an adaptive courseware approach to deploying question-embedded videos that takes students’ interactions and preparation into account to recommend personalized learning pathways on an individual basis. —Binyomin Abrams, Research Associate Professor of Chemistry

Students beginning college chemistry are expected to arrive prepared with fundamental conceptual understanding and skills from high school. While some prerequisite topics are reviewed in first-year chemistry courses, the vast majority are never covered explicitly. The wide array of prerequisite topics and the heterogeneous levels of student preparation make it a unique challenge to effectively support students in reviewing and leveraging important foundational concepts. 

Additionally, data indicate that students from groups that have been historically marginalized and excluded from STEM are more likely to arrive at college with significant educational debts in many of these areas – debts that are owed to them by society. Therefore, leveling the playing field for students entering college chemistry through effective prerequisite preparation is essential for increasing diversity in the STEM career pipeline.

“Helping students to succeed and mitigating these educational debts – repaying the debts owed to students by society – must be one of our top priorities as educators,” said Research Associate Professor Binyomin Abrams.

To address these problems, Abrams and his research group will build upon the question-embedded video (QEV) module approach they developed and studied in their Prepare with C.A.R.E. pilot project to develop an adaptive approach to deploying QEVs in support of the students (adQEVs). The original QEVs were shown to be highly effective tools for helping students review foundational skills and apply them in context of their coursework. However, since not all students enrolling in General Chemistry need the same level of support on all topics, the project team has partnered with RealizeIt, a global leader in adaptive learning, to create an approach that will meet all students where they are and support them in their learning journey.

This project will develop a new library of pre-requisite modules and employ adaptive courseware that takes students’ interactions and performance into account to recommend personalized learning pathways on an individual basis. Students who demonstrate a need are given modules that match that need, whereas students who demonstrate proficiency will have the option to skip ahead to the remaining modules that students are assigned to complete. 

The project team anticipates creating an additional 50 QEVs and a full library of summative questions based on the learning outcomes in all the modules to drive the adaptive engine that will improve student learning. —Abrams

It is anticipated that this project can potentially have a large impact across BU because approximately 25% of all BU first-year undergraduate students take CH101 General Chemistry 1 (~1000 students) every year. For most of these students, CH101 is a major requirement (e.g., biology, neuroscience, biomedical engineering) or professional aspiration (e.g., medical or dental school). Also, support for students in their first year will have lasting effects on their overall academic trajectory throughout their college career.

Nationwide, the rate at which students fail or withdraw from general chemistry (the “DFW” rate) is close to 40%, meaning that only 6 out of every 10 students who enroll in general chemistry will pass. “While the success rate in BU’s General Chemistry 1 course is much better than that – close to 85% – we are confident that we can do better,” Abrams said.  

While this project specifically focuses on General Chemistry (CH101), the potential use cases for this approach are very broad. Many STEM courses face the same challenges of hidden prerequisites hindering students’ success, and each of these courses would benefit from deploying materials adaptively like this project. 

“Once the technology, approach, and pedagogy are refined in CH101, there is no reason why this approach could not be extended to other large courses such as calculus, physics, biochemistry, and more,” Abrams said.

Project Team

Binyomin Abrams Headshot

Binyomin Abrams

Research Associate Professor of Chemistry, Director of General Chemistry, and Director of the College of Arts and Sciences Program in Science Education

Binyomin Abrams is a Research Associate Professor of Chemistry, the Director of General Chemistry, and Director of the College of Arts and Sciences Program in Science Education. Additionally, Dr. Abrams holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Teaching and Learning in the Wheelock College

Upcoming Events

View All
  • 20 June

    Introduction to Blackboard Ultra

    1:00 PM - 2:30 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    20
  • 25 June

    AI in the Classroom: Open Office Hours

    3:00 PM - 4:00 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    25
  • 26 June

    Gradebook in Blackboard Ultra

    12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    26
  • 02 July

    AI in the Classroom: Open Office Hours

    10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    02
  • 02 July

    Blackboard Original - Assignments, Assessment & Rubrics

    12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    02
  • 09 July

    AI in the Classroom: Open Office Hours

    3:00 PM - 4:00 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    09
  • 16 July

    AI in the Classroom: Open Office Hours

    10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    16
  • 23 July

    Grade Center in Blackboard Original

    12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    23
  • 23 July

    AI in the Classroom: Open Office Hours

    3:00 PM - 4:00 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    23
  • 24 July

    Introduction to Blackboard Original

    12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    24
  • 25 July

    Introduction to Blackboard Ultra

    1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    25
  • 30 July

    Gradebook in Blackboard Ultra

    12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    30
  • 31 July

    Blackboard Ultra - Assignments, Assessment & Rubrics

    12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    31
  • 06 August

    AI in the Classroom: Open Office Hours

    10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    06
  • 06 August

    Introduction to Blackboard Ally

    12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    06
  • 13 August

    AI in the Classroom: Open Office Hours

    3:00 PM - 4:00 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    13
  • 14 August

    Blackboard Original - Assignments, Assessment & Rubrics

    12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    14
  • 15 August

    Grade Center in Blackboard Original

    12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    15
  • 21 August

    Introduction to Blackboard Original

    12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    21
  • 22 August

    Introduction to Blackboard Ultra

    1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    22
  • 27 August

    AI in the Classroom: Open Office Hours

    10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    27
  • 27 August

    Gradebook in Blackboard Ultra

    12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    27
  • 28 August

    Blackboard Ultra - Assignments, Assessment & Rubrics

    12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    28
  • 03 September

    AI in the Classroom: Open Office Hours

    3:00 PM - 4:00 PM Online -- Zoom Meeting
    03