Assessment Resources

  • Field-tested  Learning Assessment Guide (FLAG) - The Field-Tested Learning Assessment Guide for STEM instructors is, as the name indicates, a collection of tested assessment tools in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics.  The tools can be sorted by discipline or type.  Biology is not very well represented compared with other sciences such as chemistry and physics, but given the emphasis of Vision and Change on the importance of the physical sciences and mathematics to biologists, and on developing the ability to think interdisciplinarily, many of the tools will be useful in assessing student learning and attitudes in those areas.  It contains an introductory primer on assessment that is not as extensive as those in the SERC Portal or the Angelo and Cross book and a helpful guide to people who can assist in developing assessment tools, sorted by their geographical locations.
  • Student Assessment of Their Learning Gains (SALG) - Student Assessment of their Learning Gains is a site designed by Elaine Seymour, of the University of Colorado, and colleagues to help students self-evaluate their learning in a course and have the results reported to the instructor.  Instructors can register at the site and then set up a learning gains assessment that students complete independently to provide formative (during the course) feedback. 
  • SERC Portal: Assessment - A kind of on-line successor to Angelo and Cross’s Classroom Assessment Techniques, this curated site provides many links to a variety of assessment tools, rubrics, hints for constructing effective exams, and so forth.  It is mostly directed at sciences (SERC, the Science Education Resource Center, began as a collaboration among geologists), and provides guidance on assessing student learning in laboratory or field environments as well as the classroom.  Because all the resources to which the Portal links are vetted, they are of high quality.
  • CURE Survey - The Classroom Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) survey is a tool to assess student learning gains from research-like experiences that are associated with courses (as opposed, for example, to independent study or summer research experiences).  Developed and administered by David LoPatto of Grinnell College, the survey consists of a “pre-test” given at the beginning of the course, and a “post-test” offered at the end.  Results are collated by the team at Grinnell and reported to the instructor.  Participation is free, but requires registration with Professor LoPatto’s team.
  • SURE Survey - The Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE) is a survey for undergraduates who have recently completed a summer undergraduate research experience. The SURE-III Survey intends to collect quantitative data on the benefits of undergraduate research.
  • Classroom Assessment Techniques, 2nd Ed. Angelo, T.A. and K. P. Cross (1993). Jossey-Bass (Wiley). San Francisco - If you are starting out (or need a refresher) on determining whether or not your students are learning in your courses, this classic work is the place to start.  It contains a wealth of ideas on ways to assess student learning and student attitudes with many examples and resources.  The examples range from quick and easy (but informative) to very sophisticated.  Although not specifically targeted to science courses, this book will be informative for any college teacher.
  • Experimental Design Ability Test - EDAT is a tool designed by Sirum and Humburg of Bowling Green State University to assess student’s abilities to construct an experiment.  Consisting of both pre-test and post-test modules, the tool posits a simple biological hypothesis and asks students to design an experimental study to assess its validity.  EDAT provides rubrics for judging the quality of the experimental designs.
  • Thinking Like a Biologist - Using Diagnostic Question Clusters (DQCs), the overarching goal of Thinking Like a Biologist is to help students improve their biological thinking and reasoning skills - to approach biology questions and issues like a biologist, which the directors of this project call principled thinking.
  • Enhancing Assessment in the Biological Sciences - The bioassess website is the result of a national project by the Centre for the Study of Higher Education (University of Melbourne), in partnership with leaders in teaching and learning in the biological sciences from The University of Sydney and The University of Melbourne. Drawing upon the combined expertise of the project team and the experience of university staff and students across Australia, the bioassess website highlights contemporary issues and presents effective and innovative approaches to enhancing assessment in higher education.
  • CLASS (Colorado Learning About Science Survey - UConsisting of 31 Likert-scale statements, CLASS-Bio probes a range of perceptions that vary between experts and novices, including enjoyment of the discipline, propensity to make connections to
    the real world, recognition of conceptual connections underlying knowledge, and problem-solving strategies. A paper describing the use of this survey can be found here: Semsar, et al. (2011).
  • Critical Thinking Assessment Test- The CAT Instrument is a unique tool designed to assess and promote the improvement of critical thinking and real-world problem solving skills. The instrument is the product of extensive development, testing, and refinement with a broad range of institutions, faculty, and students across the country. The National Science Foundation has provided support for many of these activities. lists different example approaches to assessment. The CAT is not free unless you have an NSF grant that is being used for the project.
  • The Problem of Revealing How Students Think: Concept Inventories and Beyond -This paper by Smith and Tanner (2010) gives an introduction to the concept inventory (a relatively recent addition to the assessment tools in biology), addressing its advantages and disadvantages. The authors discuss alternative assessment instruments, and raise the question of what concept inventories may actually measure.

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