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Westfield State Professor Karsten Theis publishes project in international journal

Westfield State University Associate Professor of Chemical & Physical Sciences Karsten Theis, Ph.D., recently had a project published in Chemistry Teacher International (CTI).

His work, “PQtutor, a quasi-intelligent tutoring system for quantitative problems in General Chemistry,” studies the software’s effectiveness with students. PQTutor functions by comparing student input to a model answer in order to generate prompts for finding a path to the solution and for correcting mistakes. Feedback is derived via questions from a virtual study group that suggests problem-solving moves, such as accessing relevant content, reviewing examples, or reflection about what their answer means.

“My work on [this] project supplements an existing open (free) chemistry textbook by providing free online homework as well,” said Dr. Theis. “This aligns with the goal of going beyond the open textbook articulated a decade ago by the Capetown Open Education Declaration (#CPT10), and with our institution’s values to ‘providing an accessible, affordable public higher education for all.”

A Westfield State faculty member since 2010, Theis holds a Ph.D. in structural biology from the Free University of Berlin, Germany, where he also earned his B.Sc. in chemistry.

Among his primary focuses are educational issues, including using online tools to support learning in the sciences, quantitative problem solving, and using physical models of molecules. In addition to PQTutor, Dr. Theis has also developed PQCalc, a scientific calculator that keeps track of significant figures and units. In addition to educational issues, he studies the interactions between proteins and nucleic acids, X-ray crystallography and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR).