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Assessment

Assessment helps us know whether students are actually learning what we’re trying to teach. Included here are papers on assessment and a variety of “scientific literacy” assessment tools.

The Assessment CyberGuide for Learning Goals and Outcomes.
APA (2009).—Primarily for psychology programs, but the introductory material has some good general information on assessment.
Engaging departments in assessing student learning: Overcoming common obstacles.
Beld (2010).—Suggests one may be able to persuade faculty regarding the value of assessment by focusing on “utilization-focused evaluation—what evidence of student learning do we need to help us identify and sustain what works, and find and fix what doesn’t?”
What does the letter grade mean?
Bender (2006).—Includes a sample rubric for grading student papers.
From gathering to using assessment results: Lessons from the Wabash National Study.
Blaich & Wise (2011).—Summarizes findings from the Wabash National Study, discusses the difficulties using assessment data and suggestions for utilizing it more effectively, and emphasizes that assessment must be an ongoing process.
Are we keeping the promise?  Investigation of students’ critical thinking growth.
Carmel & Yezierski (2013).—Demonstration that a non-majors lecture-based chemistry class produced significant but “modest” gains in scientific reasoning (using the Lawson Classroom Test of Scientific Reasoning as the assessment).
But are they learning?  Getting started in classroom evaluation.
Dancy & Beichner (2002).—Written by SCALE-UP physics education researchers as a primer for biologists who may want to start doing classroom assessment.
Developing a Test of Scientific Literacy Skills (TOSLS): Measuring undergraduates’ evaluation of scientific information and arguments.
Gormally at al. (2012).—Provides their definition of scientific literacy and describes the process they went through to write and validate their assessment tool; includes the test itself.
A twenty-year survey of science literacy among college undergraduates.
Impey et al. (2011).—Really interesting paper. Provides definitions of scientific literacy, sample questions from the instrument they use to assess it, and concludes that students benefit little in terms of scientific knowledge from the 2-3 college science classes they take.
The development and validation of a classroom test of formal reasoning.
Lawson (1978).—Describes one test used to measure scientific reasoning, although it is based on a Piagetian model and may be outdated.
Assessment: Can it lead to better course design?
Romeo & Posey (2013).—Description of one biology department’s attempt to write and measure learning outcomes for their introductory course, noting difficulties and lessons learned, which led to their redesigning the course.
The Experimental Design Ability Test (EDAT)
Sirum & Humburg (2011).—This test of scientific literacy is open-ended rather than multiple choice, but they state that it takes students only 10-12 minutes to complete and faculty can easily grade it using the authors’ rubric.  They used this test and present evidence suggesting that students in their experimental biology courses (non-lecture based with student-designed labs) showed greater gains in understanding experimental design than those in traditional courses.