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Abstract Detail

Vision & Change in Undergraduate Botany Education

Archer, Kathleen [1].

Assessing Student Understanding of Core Plant Biology Concepts.

The Vision and Change Report called for undergraduate educators to focus on the core concepts and competencies of biology.  In response, representatives of the Botanical Society of America and the American Society of Plant Biologists met in 2011 and developed the document “ASPB – BSA Core Concepts and Learning Objectives in Plant Biology for Undergraduates,” available online at the ASPB Education website.  The document lays out the essential, enduring ideas that students in our discipline should master, and the natural next step is to ask, how can we know when our students have achieved the desired mastery?  One tool for this purpose is the concept assessment, or concept inventory.  Typically in the multiple choice format, these assessments focus on the fundamental concepts and can be administered pre- and post-instruction to measure learning gains.  Sometimes criticized for its use at the lowest cognitive levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, the multiple choice question can, in fact, distinguish between full comprehension and partial understanding when common misconceptions are used as distracters among the answer options.  Carefully constructed and rigorously tested for validity, concept assessments are meant to be useful across a variety of undergraduate institutions.  We have initiated a project to construct a plant biology concept assessment, beginning with concepts in plant structure and growth.  To identify common misconceptions, we interviewed students, asking them open-ended questions about plants and recording their responses.  We are just beginning the process of developing questions using the misconceptions we identified as distracters.  Although creation of a validated concept assessment is a multi-year project, the same strategy can be used by instructors to probe for comprehension of any topic in a course.  The key is to collect student misconceptions and misunderstandings whenever encountered, and to use them in developing assessment questions.  This session will include an opportunity for participants to examine some of our collected misconceptions and to practice using them to craft questions about plant biology concepts.

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Related Links:
ASPB-BSA Core Concepts and Learning Objectives in Plant Biology for Undergraduates

1 - Trinity College, Biology, 300 Summit St., Dept. Biology, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, 06106, United States

concept assessment
undergraduate education
Vision & Change.

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: SY06
Location: Snake/Boise Centre
Date: Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Time: 4:15 PM
Number: SY06006
Abstract ID:412
Candidate for Awards:None

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