Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce

Westfield State University Professor Karsten Theis publishes project in international journal

CONTACT: Troy Watkins,, 413.572.5523

WestfieldWestfield 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).

Founded in 1839 by Horace Mann, Westfield State University is an education leader committed to providing every generation of students with a learning experience built on its founding principle as the first public co-educational college in America to offer an education without barrier to race, gender or economic status. This spirit of innovative thinking and social responsibility is forged in a curriculum of liberal arts and professional studies that creates a vital community of engaged learners who become confident, capable individuals prepared for leadership and service to society. For more information about Westfield State University, visit,, or


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