National chemistry exams help students and professors

Anne Buie

The university’s chemistry department has “consistently” fallen into the average score for the standardized exam given at the end of each semester compared nationally, chemistry professor Jennifer Cecile said.

The chemistry department administers the exam through the American Chemical Society and the tests are paid for through the department’s budget, Cecile said.

The American Chemical Society, a nonprofit organization, is the world’s largest scientific society and one of the world’s leading sources of authoritative scientific information with more than 164,000 members, according to their website.
The exams are given to both introduction to chemistry courses, organic and physical chemistry.

The exams have been in place for many years, Cecile said.

Since there are about 1,000 students in the introduction to chemistry classes and multiple professors, the standardized test helps the professors compare how well they teach, how much the students learn and how the department is doing, Cecile said.

“This gives us an opportunity to see what our students learn and are knowledgeable about,” Cecile said.

Mike Hambourger, a chemistry professor, said it’s good to have a “uniform metric to judge the knowledge of the students.”

“Having a standardized test takes away the ambiguity of how a professor teaches,” Hambourger said.

Hambourger said that while it’s good the chemistry department has average test scores and it shows students are learning, but they can always work to improve.

The exam also proves that students coming from the chemistry department went through a “rigorous” course and placed well in the exam, he said.

Chemistry department lecturer Amanda Howell said the exam creates a base line to compare Appalachian’s chemistry department to others.

Howell said because the exam is standardized, the students can “feel confident” that they won’t take a test that’s any easier or harder than other sections.

“I think that, that is beneficial,” Howell said.

Story: KELLI STRAKA, News Reporter