Validated Instruments

The following table lists a range of validated instruments for assessing learning.  (N.B. Instruments are validated for specific contexts, and validation does not “transfer” to different contexts.)


Facet of learning being assessed

Name of Assessment instrument


conceptual mastery: natural selection

CINS (concept inventory of natural selection)

Anderson, Fisher, and Norman, Development and evaluation of the conceptual inventory of natural selection. J. of Research in Science Teaching 39 (10): 952-978, 2002.

conceptual mastery: genetics literacy


Bowling et al., Development and evaluation of a genetics literacy assessment instrument for undergraduates. Genetics 178 (1): 15-22, 2008.


conceptual mastery:



Smith, Wood, and Knight, The genetics concept assessment: a new concept inventory for gauging student understanding of genetics. CBE – Life Sciences Education 7 (4): 422-430, 2008.

conceptual mastery: molecular and cellular biology


Shi et al., An introductory molecular and cell biology assessment. CBE – Life Sciences Education 9 (winter): 453-461, 2010.


scientific writing

(a rubric, rather than validated instrument)


Timmerman, Strickland, Johnson, and Payne, Development of a ‘universal’ rubric for assessing undergraduates’ scientific reasoning skills using scientific writing. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 36 (5): 509-547, 2011. 

Other Resources for Using Rubrics

epistemological understanding

VOSTS (Views on Science-Technology-Society)

formulated by Aikenhead and Ryan (Science Education 76: 477-491, 1992) and scaled by Tedman and Keeves (Int. Ed. J. 2: 20-47, 2001).

approach to learning (deep versus superficial)

R-SPQ-2F (revised two-factor version of Study Process Questionnaire)

Biggs, Kember, and Leung, Brit. J. of Ed. Psychology 71: 133-149, 2001.

views on science

VASS (Views about Sciences Survey)

Halloun and Hestenes, Interpreting VASS dimensions and profiles.  Science & Education 7 (6): 553-577, 1998.

experiences in research

SURE (Survey of undergraduate research experiences)

Lopatto, Survey of undergraduate research experiences (SURE): first findings. Cell Biology Education 3: 270-277, 2004.


CLASS (Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey)

Adams et al., Physical Reviews Special Topics – Physics Education Research 2: 010101, 2006.

N.B. formulated and validated for physics, but could be adapted for other disciplines.



Russell and Hollander, American Biology Teacher 37: 270-273, 1975.

quantitative reasoning





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