Measuring College Learning in Biology: An Initial Conversation with Faculty

, 10:00am –
Social Science Research Council

On March 26, 2014, a group of leading biology faculty came to the SSRC for a daylong conversation about undergraduate biology education. This was the first in a series of biology-focused meetings for the Measuring College Learning Project (MCL), a new Education Research Program initiative that aims to improve faculty’s capacity to articulate and track undergraduates’ field-specific learning outcomes. Click here to learn more about MCL.

The meeting’s main objective was to understand how MCL could make a meaningful contribution to the biology community’s ongoing efforts to improve undergraduate biology education. Building on the significant work that has already been done in this area, participants discussed ways to further refine and prioritize the biology community’s learning goals for undergraduates, such as those articulated in the American Association for the Advancement of Science/National Science Foundation’s Vision and Change report. Another topic of discussion was how to design an assessment tool—or set of tools—that could measure these outcomes in a rigorous and meaningful way. Of particular interest was how to design a tool that could inform instructional improvement at the classroom and department level. Participants also discussed how an MCL assessment in biology could complement existing biology assessment tools, such as concept inventories and portfolio rubrics.

This meeting generated a wealth of new ideas about how to conceive of and measure biology undergraduates’ skills and competencies, and set the stage for continued discussion at a second meeting.