CURRENT VOLUME ALL VOLUMES SEARCH TIEE
VOLUME 5 TEACHING ISSUES AND EXPERIMENTS IN ECOLOGY
REVIEW

Conceptual assessment in the biological sciences (CABS)

Author

Nancy Stamp1

1 - Binghamton University, SUNY, Binghamton, NY, nstamp@binghamton.edu

Background

The impetus for conceptual assessment in the Biological Sciences stems from these questions: Are students learning what we are trying to teach? Are we trying to teach what is important? What works for teaching what is important?

Research on the Force Concept Inventory used in introductory physic courses around the nation for over a decade suggests that using concept inventories can catalyze student learning and effectively guide instructors. Most concept inventories focus on core concepts in a discipline and are based on constructivism learning theory. The premise is that students have a naïve world-view that they hang onto unless their gaps in understanding are identified and their preconceptions, misconceptions, and faulty thinking skills are directly challenged. Concept inventories help identify those problems. The development of inventories that are valid and reliable requires gathering considerable information from students about what they think and why, plus an iterative process of composing increasingly honed questions for the inventory.