Exploring Inequities in a Traditional and a Reformed General Chemistry Course

Jenna Tashiro, Vicente Talanquer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Improvement in student performance from educational reforms has driven current calls for changes in curricular, instructional, and assessment practices in higher education. Less research has addressed the possibility of such reforms aiding in resolving the well-documented inequities in educational outcomes between sexes and races/ethnicities in STEM courses. In this study, we compared a traditional and a reformed general chemistry course offered at a large public research-intensive university. Using hierarchical linear and logistical modeling, we assessed and investigated the inequities between sexes and races/ethnicities in the outcomes for these courses. Initial analysis looking at aggregated data (not by sex or ethnicity) showed the benefit of reforms specifically for students that had not been as academically well prepared as others. Novel findings for off-sequence (first semester taken in Spring) classes for both the traditional and reformed courses found a female-lead in course grades and benefits for Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaska Native, Latinx or Hispanic, and African American or Black (NALA) students. The on-sequence traditional course was found to have a male-lead in achievement in line with previous research. The on-sequence reformed course was found to have more equity in achievement between sexes. Possible sources of that improvement from the traditional course were investigated, and the weighting of different course components in the overall course grades was found to be a critical piece in the reformed course's more equitable outcomes. Though our results are promising in terms of offering a recommendation that may aid in advancing equity between sexes, our results indicate that the educational reforms made fell short in mitigating the pervasive racial/ethnic inequities found in achievement and performance measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3680-3692
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 14 2021


  • Chemical Education Research
  • Curriculum
  • First-Year Undergraduate/General
  • Minorities in Chemistry
  • Women in Chemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Education


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