Student Learning and Understanding in Ecology and Evolution: Development and Use of Assessment Tools to Guide Undergraduate Education Reform

Monday, August 10, 2015: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
340, Baltimore Convention Center
Mindi M. Summers, University of Maine
Michelle K. Smith, University of Maine
Michelle K. Smith, University of Maine
The Vision and Change report provides faculty and institutions with a set of core concepts and competencies for undergraduate students majoring in biology. This session will focus on efforts required to achieve the goals of Vision and Change including: 1) the development of consensus ecology and evolution learning outcomes for biology majors, 2) the creation of innovative assessment instruments to measure student progress toward these learning outcomes, and 3) the process of using data collected from these assessment to guide data-driven educational reform. By highlighting a breadth of research projects, this session will provide educators with learning outcomes and practical assessment instruments to measure student understanding. For the first effort, consensus on learning outcomes in ecology and evolution, speakers will describe how they determined which learning outcomes are central to the field. They also will discuss the importance of writing learning outcomes that include both content knowledge and competencies, such as experimental design. Finally, speakers will identify effective ways to solicit expert feedback on the importance and accuracy of the learning outcome statements. For the second effort, writing validated ecology and evolution assessments to measure student progress toward these learning outcomes, speakers will discuss how assessment questions are developed so they are aligned with the learning outcomes, and the importance of using both expert and student feedback to ensure the questions are both valid and reliable. The speakers will talk about a variety of formats to assess student learning including: multiple-choice and multiple true/false pre and post tests, open response questions where student answers are sorted by text analysis computer programs, and questions that ask students to draw or model their responses. The speakers will also elaborate on techniques used for writing questions at different educational scales including assessments developed for a single class session, an entire course, and across the undergraduate major. Special attention will be given to determining how to implement these assessments in large enrollment classes and across entire departments. Finally, speakers in this session will discuss how data collected from these assessments can be used to guide data-driven educational reform. Namely, how assessment results can provide a longitudinal measuring stick—a way for accreditation agencies, deans, department chairs, and faculty to understand how well novice undergraduate learners are being transformed into adaptive experts in ecology and evolution.
1:30 PM
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Susan R. Singer, National Science Foundation
2:30 PM
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Tammy M. Long, Michigan State University; Elena Bray Speth, Saint Louis University; Joseph Dauer, University of Nebraska - Lincoln; Jennifer L. Momsen, North Dakota State University; Etiowo Usoro, Michigan State University; Sara A. Wyse, Bethel University
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Rebecca M. Price, University of Washington Bothell; Denise Pope, SimBio; Joel K. Abraham, California State University, Fullerton; Susan Maruca, SimBio; Eli Meir, SimBio
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3:20 PM
 Strategies for assessing what biology majors know about nonadaptive evolution
Rebecca M. Price, University of Washington Bothell; Kathryn E. Perez, University of Texas Pan American
3:40 PM
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Jenny M. Dauer, University of Nebraska - Lincoln; Jennifer H. Doherty, University of Washington; Charles W. (Andy) Anderson, Michigan State University
4:20 PM
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Nasseer Idrisi, American University in Iraq; Christy Jo Geraci, University of Richmond
4:40 PM
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Kirsten K. Deane-Coe, Cornell University; Thomas G. Owens, Cornell University