Your grade for this course will be primarily based upon satisfactory
completion of a research project. You have three options for
- Curriculum Study of a Biology Course
- Mapping Students’ Conceptual
- Analysis of a Biology Assessment
For each project, you are expected to produce a research-based
paper of at least 20 pages in length with appropriate references.
You will provide a preview of your topic at the midpoint of the
course, and a presentation of your final project during the last
three weeks of class; final project papers are due on the last
day of class (December 11th?).
Option A: Curriculum Study of a Biology Course
- What course
will you be studying, and why? Which
section of the course will you be concentrating on?
- How do you
define "concepts"? What are the
major concepts to be learned in the section of
the course you are analyzing?
does the ‘Atlas for Science Literacy’ have
to say about the necessary prerequisite knowledge for
learning these concepts?
there implicit assumptions being made about what students
already know, prior to instruction? How
are these assumptions validated? (or are they?)
- What does the literature
say about student understand/misunderstand about concepts
to be taught in the section of the course you are analyzing?
- With the permission of the instructor, visit at least
3 relevant class sessions of the course you have chosen.
Provide an overview of the syllabus as well as a summary
of the topics covered in the sessions you attended.
- Interview the instructor
about the design of the course.
- Interview X students
about the course.
Proposed Design & Assessment
- Given your
analysis of the concepts underlying this course,
as well as the information about the course analysis,
how do you propose restructuring this course? Draw upon
readings from class, especially Wiggins & McTighe,
when you are making your argument.
- Present a sample syllabus for your version of the course.
Option B: Mapping
Students’ Conceptual Landscapes
- What concept will you be studying, and why?
is this an important concept? What background
information is required for its understanding/acceptance?
- What will be your audience (e.g. MCDB undergraduates,
K-12 students, etc.)?
- According to science
education policy documents, what do you expect a person
at this age/educational level to know about the concept
you will be studying?
- Drawing upon readings
from class, as well as your own literature search, what
is already know about what students know/do not know
about this concept?
upon what you expect students to know, and the common
misconceptions they may have, develop an interview/written
assessment to give to at least 4 students. The interview/assessment
should have enough items to truly probe students’ understanding’ see
the instructors for approval before administering to students.
Take careful notes or audio/videotape responses for later
- Analyze transcripts
of audio/videotaped interviews or responses to written
assessments to bring evidence to bear on what your “subjects” know about the
concept. In analyzing the data, you need to grapple
with your “unit of analysis”: the word, phrase,
sentence, complete thought, or entire response to item/task
or some other unit. You then need to create a way
of categorizing similar units and counting frequencies
of the different ideas students have about this concept.
- For each question you asked, what were the most common
student responses? What kinds of patterns emerged in
terms of what students know, and what misconceptions
they might have? Provide summaries based on your categorizing
of the student responses and, if necessary, visual representations
of the data.
do you think students’ misconceptions or
incorrect understandings may have come from?
Discussion and conclusions
- How do your findings compare to the literature base on student
understanding of this concept?
are the implications for Biology teaching and learning given
what you found?
- How might students’ misconceptions/incorrect
ideas be used as resources for instruction?
Option C: Analysis/Development
of a Biology Assessment
- Select a biology
assessment or conceptual inventory and explain why you
have chosen this test to analyze. If the assessment has
many items, you may want to select a subset (<15)
for your analysis.
does the test purport to measure? That is, what
knowledge or cognitive process does the test claim to measure?
empirical evidence is there, to date, to support the interpretation
of the test scores as measuring the knowledge or process
claimed to be measured? This includes a
brief literature review on what is known about the test,
common student misconceptions in this area, and readings
from the class.
- In your analysis,
recall that an assessment consists a task, a response
format, and a scoring system. Be sure to
include information about all three in your analysis.
a thorough analysis of
the demands imposed on a student by a single, representative
item/task from the assessment. Start with an
an extensive task analysis to see if and how to modify the
results of the intensive analysis to include all the items
on the test, revising your intensive analysis to encompass
all the items.
- If you have a heterogeneous assessment covering different
content areas, knowledge types, or both, you may want to
stratify the test and do intensive and extensive analyses
within each stratum.
- On the basis of
this analysis of the task demands of
the test, what do you conclude about what the test measures?
- Conduct a cognitive
analysis of your test by having at least 4 “subjects” “think aloud” while
answering the items on the test.
verbal protocol by taking detailed notes as your “subjects” talk
or, preferably, audio or video record.
- Transcribe the verbal protocol from notes or audiotape for
the transcripts to bring evidence to bear on what your “subjects” are thinking as they perform
the tasks on the test. In analyzing the data, you need
to grapple with your “unit of analysis”: the
word, phrase, sentence, complete thought, or entire response
to item/task or some other unit. You then need to create
a way of categorizing similar units and counting frequencies
or of tracking cognitive processes over the course of working
on the item/task perhaps in a flow diagram.
- On the basis of your cognitive analysis what do you conclude
about what the test measures?
Discussion and Conclusions
- What does the assessment purport to measure (see Introduction)?
- Combining the findings
of the task analysis and the cognitive analysis, what
evidence to you have that confirms or disconfirms the
claims made about what the assessment measures?
- Conclude what you
think the assessment measures referring to your task
and cognitive analyses.