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Assessments - Biological Sciences

Developing and validating reliable assessment instruments is a long process involving investigation of student difficulties, designing questions which can reliably uncover these difficulties, interviewing faculty about the appropriateness of the questions, pilot testing with students (both individual interviews and large scale in-class testing), performing statistical analysis, question refinement (addition/change/removal) and re-testing. It takes years of development effort to create and validate reliable assessment instruments and in order to ensure that these assessment instruments do not lose their reliability (for example, by answers showing up in online forums) it is important that:
1. students are not given copies following administration of the assessment tool and
2. questions are not incorporated into web-based question delivery systems without adequate security to prevent printing or unauthorized access by students.
 
Content-based Assessments
  • Biology Concept Inventory (BCI)
    • 30 item multiple choice test of biology concepts covered in an introductory course
    • Articles describing its development and use are available here and here
  • Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection (CINS)
    • 20 item multiple choice test of understanding natural selection
    • Article describing its development available here
  • Measure of Understanding of Macroevolution (MUM)
    • 28 item assessment (27 multiple choice, one free response) of the scientific portrayal of macroevolution appropriate for undergraduate students
    • This link takes you to article describing its development which includes the test items
  • Basic Tree Thinking Assessment
    • Two 10 item multiple choice tests of evolutionary relationships
    • Article motivating the tree thinking approach and the question development published in Science available here
    • The Tree Thinking Group
  • Genetics Literacy Assessment Instrument (GLAI)
    • 31 multiple choice instrument assessing the genetics literacy of undergraduates taking introductory biology or genetics courses
    • Article describing its development available here
    • The instrument is printed in the following dissertation (page 94), however, it has a slightly different name “The Genetic Literacy Concept Inventory” but includes the same exact items.
  • Genetics Concept Assessment (GCA)
    • 25 item multiple choice inventory using minimal jargon designed to test achievement of nine broad learning goals in majors and non-majors undergraduate genetics courses
    • Can be obtained by emailing one of the researchers who developed it, Michelle K. Smith, at michelle.k.smith@maine.edu
    • Article describing its development available here
  • Genetics Literacy
    • 13 item two-tier conceptual assessment (i.e., 26 questions) of genetics concepts designed for students grades 10-12.
    • Can be obtained by emailing one of the researchers who developed it, Chi-Yan Tsui, at C.Tsui@curtin.edu.au
    • Article describing the assessment is available here
  • Meiosis Concept Inventory (Meiosis CI)
    • 17 item conceptual assessment of 5-6 independent concepts related to meiosis
    • The inventory can be obtained by contacting the developers, Pam Kalas or Carol Pollock, which can be done through the People page at the UBC Biology website
    • Paper describing the development and use of the inventory available here
  • Developmental Biology Content Survey
    • 15 item multiple choice survey designed to test understanding of core concepts in development (note that the authors do not mention performing analysis to ensure validity and reliability of the test)
    • Available in appendix A of this article
  • Flowering plant growth and development
    • 13 item two-tier conceptual assessment (i.e., 26 questions) designed for high-school biology students.
    • Provided in the appendix of the publication describing its development and use available here
  • Internal Transport in Plants and the Human Circulatory System
    • 28 item two-tier instrument (i.e., 56 questions)
    • Contact Jing-Ru Wang (National Pingtung university) at Mail100@mail.npue.edu.tw
    • Article describing the development of the instrument which also provides several items available here
  • Host-Pathogen Interaction
    • 18 item two-tier concept inventory
    • To obtain this inventory contact Gili Marbach-Ad at gilim@umd.edu or Ann C. Smith at asmith@umd.edu
    • Article describing its development here
  • Diffusion and Osmosis Diagnostic Test (DODT)
    • 12 item two-tier diagnostic test for college students
    • Provided in the appendix of the article describing the development of the test available here
  • Introductory Molecular and Cell Biology Assessment (IMCA)
    • 24 item multiple-choice tool for assessing understanding of a selection of fundamental concepts and knowledge in undergraduate introductory molecular and cell biology based on identified student misconceptions
    • Provided in the supplementary material of the article describing the development of the test available here
  • Molecular Life Sciences (MLS) Concept Inventory
  • Metabolism in Photosynthesis and Respiring Organisms
    • Total of 16 questions, some multiple choice, some true/false and some open ended
    • Some questions are available in the article describing the development available here
    • For more information contact Christopher Wilson at cwilson@bscs.org
  • Breathing and Respiration
    • 12 two-tiered multiple choice items designed to diagnose students’ understanding of breathing, gas exchange and respiration
    • For more information, contact David Treagust at D.Treagust@curtin.edu.au
    • Article describing the development of the items available here
  • Photosynthesis and Respiration
    • 13 two-tiered multiple choice instrument (also includes one open ended question)
    • For more information, contact David Treagust at D.Treagust@curtin.edu.au
    • Article describing the development of the instrument available here
  • Cell Division Diagnostic Test
    • 14 two-tier multiple choice question instrument on cell division and reproduction
    • For more information, contact Yilmaz Kara at yilmazkaankara@yahoo.com
    • Article describing the development of the instrument is available here
Affect and Attitudes about Biology/Science
Affect and Attitudes about Laboratory courses
  • Science Laboratory Environment Inventory (SLEI)
    • Instrument which can be used to assess laboratory environment both from the perspective of the instructor and the students on five different dimensions: student cohesiveness, open-endedness (of laboratory activities), integration (with non-laboratory courses), rule clarity (extent to which lab activities are guided by formal rules) and material environment (laboratory equipment). The instrument is found in the appendix of the paper here
    • Article describing the development and use of the instrument available here
  • ​Laboratory course assessment survey (LCAS) 
    • LCAS instrument is available here
    • The Laboratory Course Assessment Survey (LCAS) measures students’ perceptions of three design features of lab courses: 1) collaboration, 2) discovery and relevance, and 3) iteration. Article describing the development and use of the instrument is available here

Self-efficacy (belief in one's own ability to be successful) and motivation

  • Biology Self-Efficacy Instrument for Nonmajors (BSEIN)
    • 23 item instrument which asks students to rate their level of confidence in three key areas: 1) writing and critiquing biological ideas throughout the use of laboratory reports, 2) general skills used in a typical biology course and 3) ability to apply biological concepts in everyday life
  • Biology Motivation Questionnaire II (BMQ-II)
    • Survey of students’ motivation to learn biolog
      • The link above will take you to the Science Motivation Questionnaire II, SMQ-II. To use this in biology, you can substitute the word “science” with “biology”
    • An article describing the validation of the SMQ-II is available here
  • General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE)
    • 10 item instrument assessing general self-efficacy (i.e., not specific to a particular domain)
If we missed some assessments developed by biology education researchers, please let us know at dbserc@pitt.edu.