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The genetics concept assessment: A new concept inventory for gauging student understanding of genetics

TitleThe genetics concept assessment: A new concept inventory for gauging student understanding of genetics
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsSmith, MK, Wood, WB, Knight, J
JournalCBE Life Sci Educ
Volume7
Pagination422-430
Date PublishedDecember 1, 2008
KeywordsAACR, Assessment, Biology, concept inventory, genetics, non-MSU publication
URLhttp://www.lifescied.org/cgi/content/abstract/7/4/422
DOI10.1187/cbe.08-08-0045
Non-MSU1
Full Text

We have designed, developed, and validated a 25-question Genetics Concept Assessment (GCA) to test achievement of nine broad learning goals in majors and nonmajors undergraduate genetics courses. Written in everyday language with minimal jargon, the GCA is intended for use as a pre- and posttest to measure student learning gains. The assessment was reviewed by genetics experts, validated by student interviews, and taken by >600 students at three institutions. Normalized learning gains on the GCA were positively correlated with averaged exam scores, suggesting that the GCA measures understanding of topics relevant to instructors. Statistical analysis of our results shows that differences in the item difficulty and item discrimination index values between different questions on pre- and posttests can be used to distinguish between concepts that are well or poorly learned during a course.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (DUE grants: 1438739, 1323162, 1347740, 0736952 and 1022653). Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.