Learning Outcomes with Linked Assessments – an Essential Part of our Regular Teaching Practice

    Authors: Ann C. Smith1,*, Gili Marbach-Ad1
    Affiliations: 1: University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
    • Published 20 December 2010
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: 1127 Microbiology Building, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. Phone: 301-405-5443. Fax: 301-314-9489. E-mail: asmith@umd.edu.
    • Copyright © 2010 American Society for Microbiology
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2010 vol. 11 no. 2 123-129. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v11i2.217
MyBook is a cheap paperback edition of the original book and will be sold at uniform, low price.
  • XML
  • HTML
    70.16 Kb
  • PDF
    113.51 Kb


    Setting up learning outcomes with linked assessments is a best practice in science education. In biology teaching, faculty are beginning to establish learning outcomes and assessments in the style of concept inventories. At a recent meeting of biology faculty who have designed concept inventories, the characteristics and uses of concept inventories were defined. Concept inventories used as pre- and post-measures of student learning provide a window into students’ understanding of key concepts of a discipline and serve as a tool to motivate faculty toward evidence-based teaching habits. A movement for the development of a microbiology concept inventory is suggested.

Key Concept Ranking

Natural Selection
Host-Pathogen Interactions
Microbial Pathogenesis

References & Citations

1. American Association for the Advancement of Science1990The liberal art of science: agenda for action Report of the Project on Liberal Education and the SciencesAAASWashington, DC
2. American Association for the Advancement of Science2010Vision and change in undergraduate biology education: a call to actionAmerican Association for the Advancement of ScienceWashington, DChttp://visionandchange.org/files/2010/03/VC_report.pdf
3. American Society for Microbiology1994ASM’s curriculum recommendations: introductory course in microbiologyAmerican Society for MicrobiologyWashington, DChttp://www.asm.org/index.php/unknown/asm-s-curriculum-recommendations-introductory-course-in-microbiology.html
4. Anderson D2003Natural selection theory in non-majors biology: instruction, assessment and conceptual difficulty [thesis]San Diego State UniversitySan Diego, CA
5. Anderson DL, Fisher KM, Norman GJ2002Development and evaluation of the conceptual inventory of natural selectionJ Res Sci Teaching3995297810.1002/tea.10053 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tea.10053
6. Association of American Colleges and Universities2009Learning and assessment: trends in undergraduate educationAssociation of American Colleges and UniversitiesWashington, DChttp://www.aacu.org/membership/documents/2009MemberSurvey_Part1.pdf
7. Association of American Medical Colleges2009Scientific foundations for future physicians. Report of the AAMC-HHMI CommitteeAssociation of American Medical CollegesWashington, DChttp://www.hhmi.org/grants/pdf/08-209_AAMC-HHMI_report.pdf
8. Bowling BV, Acra EE, Wang L, Myers MF, Dean GE, Markle GC, et al2008Development and evaluation of a genetics literacy assessment instrument for undergraduatesGenetics178152210.1534/genetics.107.079533182023542206067 http://dx.doi.org/10.1534/genetics.107.079533
9. Cals JWL, Boumans D, Lardinois RJM, Gonzales R, Hopstaken RM, Butler CC, et al2007Public beliefs on antibiotics and respiratory tract infections: an internet-based questionnaire studyBr J Gen Pract5794294710.3399/096016407782605027 http://dx.doi.org/10.3399/096016407782605027
10. College Board2009Draft AP biology curriculum frameworkThe College BoardNew York, NYhttp://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/members/courses/208119.html
11. Crouch C, Mazur E2001Peer instruction: ten years of experience and resultsAm J Phys6997097710.1119/1.1374249 http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1374249
12. D’Avanzo C, Anderson CW, Griffith A, Merrill J2010Thinking like a biologist: using diagnostic questions to help students reason with biological principlesAvailable from: www.biodqc.org/
13. D’Avanzo C2008Biology concept inventories: overview, status, and next stepsBioScience581079108510.1641/B581111 http://dx.doi.org/10.1641/B581111
14. Duit R, Treagust DF2003Conceptual change: a powerful framework for improving science teaching and learningInt J Sci Educ2567168810.1080/09500690305016 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500690305016
15. Evans DL, Gray G, Krause S, Martin C, Midkiff B, Notaros M, et al2003Progress on concept inventory assessment toolsT4G1T4G8Proceedings 33rd ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education ConferenceBoulder, CO
16. Fairweather J2008Linking evidence and promising practices in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) undergraduate educationNational Academies PressWashington, DCAvailable from: http://www7.nationalacademies.org/bose/Fairweather_CommissionedPaper.pdf.
17. Fisher K2004RCN-UBE incubator: conceptual assessments in biology: tools for learningNational Science FoundationArlington, VAAvailable from: www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=0957363
18. Fisher KM2004The importance of prior knowledge in college science instruction Sunal DW, Wright EL, Bland JReform in undergraduate science teaching for the 21st century InformationAge PublishingCharlotte, NC
19. Garvin-Doxas K, Klymkowsky M, Elrod S2007Building, using, and maximizing the impact of concept inventories in the biological sciences: report on a National Science Foundation sponsored conference on the Construction of Concept Inventories in the Biological SciencesCBE Life Sci Educ627728210.1187/cbe.07-05-003118056297 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.07-05-0031
20. Hake RR1998Interactive-engagement vs. traditional methods: a six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics coursesAm J Phys66647410.1119/1.18809 http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.18809
21. Handelsman J, Ebert-May D, Beichner R, Bruns P, Chang A, DeHaan R, et al2004Scientific teachingScience30452152210.1126/science.109602215105480 http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1096022
22. Handelsman J, Miller S, Pfund C2006Scientific teachingW. H. Freeman and CompanyNew York, NY
23. Herreid CF2010It’s all their fault?J Microbiol Biol Educ113437
24. Hestenes D, Wells M, Swackhamer G1992Force concept inventoryThe Phys Teacher3014115810.1119/1.2343497 http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.2343497
25. Khodor J, Halme DG, Walker GC2004A hierarchical biology concept framework: a tool for course designCell Biol Educ311112110.1187/cbe.03-10-001415257339437643 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.03-10-0014
26. Klymkowsky MW, Garvin-Doxas K2008Recognizing student misconceptions through Ed’s Tools and the Biology Concept InventoryPLoS Biol61e3[doi:10.371/journal.pbio.0060003]10.1371/journal.pbio.006000318177207 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0060003
27. Klymkowsky MW, Garvin-Doxas K, Zeilik M2003Bioliteracy and teaching efficacy: what biologists can learn from physicistsCell Biol Educ215516110.1187/cbe.03-03-001414506504192446 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.03-03-0014
28. Klymkowsky MW2009BioliteracyAvailable from: http://bioliteracy.colorado.edu/
29. Knight JK, Wood WB2005Teaching more by lecturing lessCell Biol Educ429831010.1187/05-06-0082163412571305892 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/05-06-0082
30. Kuh G, Ikenberry S2009More than you think, less than we need: learning outcomes assessment in American higher educationUniversity of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute of Learning Outcomes AssessmentUrbana, ILAvailable from: http://www.learningoutcomesassessment.org/NILOAsurveyresults09.htm
31. Labov JB, Singer SR, George MD, Schweingruber HA, Hilton ML2009Effective practices in undergraduate STEM education part 1: examining the evidenceCBE Life Sci Educ815716110.1187/cbe.09-06-0038197238072736016 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.09-06-0038
32. Libarkin J2008Concept inventories in higher education scienceNational Academies PressWashington, DCAvailable from: http://www7.nationalacademies.org/bose/Libarkin_CommissionedPaper.pdf
33. Lin S2004Development and application of a two-tier diagnostic test for high school students’ understanding of flowering plant growth and developmentInt J Sci Math Educ217519910.1007/s10763-004-6484-y http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10763-004-6484-y
34. Mann M, Treagust DF1998A pencil and paper instrument to diagnose students’ conceptions of breathing, gas exchange and respirationAustralian Sci Teachers J445559
35. Marbach-Ad G, Briken V, El-Sayed N, Frauwirth K, Fredericksen B, Hutcheson S, et al2009Assessing student understanding of host pathogen interactions using a concept inventoryJ Microbiol Biol Educ104350
36. Marbach-Ad G, McAdams K, Benson S, Briken V, Cathcart L, Chase M, et al2010A model for using a concept inventory as a tool for students’ assessment and faculty professional development [accepted for publication]CBE Life Sci Educ10.1187/cbe.10-05-0069211236862995757 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.10-05-0069
37. Michael J, McFarland J, Wright A2008The second conceptual assessment in the biological sciences workshopAdv Physiol Educ3224825110.1152/advan.90122.200818794250 http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/advan.90122.2008
38. Mulford W, Robinson R2002An inventory for alternate conceptions among first-semester general chemistry studentsJ Chem Educ7973910.1021/ed079p739 http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ed079p739
39. Nadelson L, Southerland SA2010Development and preliminary evaluation of the measure of understanding of macroevolution: introducing the MUMJ Exp Educ7815119010.1080/00220970903292983 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00220970903292983
40. National Research Council2003BIO2010: transforming undergraduate education for future research biologistsNational Academies PressWashington, DCAvailable from: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309085357
41. Odom AL, Barrow LH1995Development and application of a two-tier diagnostic test measuring college biology students’ understanding of diffusion and osmosis after a course of instructionJ Res Sci Teaching32456110.1002/tea.3660320106 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tea.3660320106
42. Schonborn KJ, Anderson TR2008Bridging the educational research-teaching practice gap – conceptual understanding, part 2: assessing and developing student knowledgeBiochem Molecular Biol Educ36372379
43. Seymour E, Hewitt H1997Talking about leaving: why undergraduates leave the sciencesWestview PressBoulder, CO
44. Smith JI, Tanner K2010The problem of revealing how students think: concept inventories and beyondCBE Life Sci Educ91510.1187/cbe.09-12-0094201948002830154 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.09-12-0094
45. Smith MK, Wood WB, Knight JK2008The genetics concept assessment: a new concept inventory for gauging student understanding of geneticsCBE Life Sci Educ742243010.1187/cbe.08-08-0045190474282592048 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.08-08-0045
46. Stamp N2007Conceptual assessment in the biological sciencesTeaching Issues Experiments in Ecol5Available from: http://tiee.ecoed.net/vol/v5/review/stamp/abstract.html
47. Treagust D1986Evaluating students’ misconceptions by means of diagnostic multiple choice itemsJ Res Sci Educ1619920710.1007/BF02356835 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02356835
48. Tsui CY, Treagust D2009Evaluating secondary students’ scientific reasoning in genetics using a two-tier diagnostic instrumentInt J Sci Educ321073109810.1080/09500690902951429 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500690902951429
49. U. S. Department of Education2006A test of leadership – charting the future of US higher educationU.S. Department of Education, Commission on the Future of Higher EducationWashington, DCAvailable from: http://www2.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/hiedfuture/reports/final-report.pdf
50. Wang J2004Development and validation of a two-tier instrument to examine understanding of internal transport in plants and the human circulatory systemInt J Sci Math Educ213115710.1007/s10763-004-9323-2 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10763-004-9323-2
51. Wiggins GP, McTighe J2000Understanding by designMerrill EducationUpper Saddle River, NJ
52. Wilson CD, Anderson CW, Heidemann M, Merrill JE, Merritt BW, Richmond G, et al2006Assessing students’ ability to trace matter in dynamic systems in cell biologyCBE Life Sci Educ532333110.1187/cbe.06-02-0142171460391681358 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.06-02-0142
53. Wood WB2009Innovations in teaching undergraduate biology and why we need themAnnu Rev Cell Dev Biol259311210.1146/annurev.cellbio.24.110707.175306 http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.cellbio.24.110707.175306

Citations loading...

Supplemental Material

No supplementary material available for this content.


Article metrics loading...



Setting up learning outcomes with linked assessments is a best practice in science education. In biology teaching, faculty are beginning to establish learning outcomes and assessments in the style of concept inventories. At a recent meeting of biology faculty who have designed concept inventories, the characteristics and uses of concept inventories were defined. Concept inventories used as pre- and post-measures of student learning provide a window into students’ understanding of key concepts of a discipline and serve as a tool to motivate faculty toward evidence-based teaching habits. A movement for the development of a microbiology concept inventory is suggested.

Highlighted Text: Show | Hide
Loading full text...

Full text loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Please check the format of the address you have entered.
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error