Scientific teaching requires scientifically constructed, field-tested instruments to accurately evaluate student thinking and gauge teacher effectiveness. We have developed a 23-question, multiple select–format assessment of student understanding of the essential concepts of the central dogma of molecular biology that is appropriate for all levels of undergraduate biology. Questions for the Central Dogma Concept Inventory (CDCI) tool were developed and iteratively revised based on student language and review by experts. The ability of the CDCI to discriminate between levels of understanding of the central dogma is supported by field testing (N = 54), and large-scale beta testing (N = 1733). Performance on the assessment increased with experience in biology; scores covered a broad range and showed no ceiling effect, even with senior biology majors, and pre/posttesting of a single class focused on the central dogma showed significant improvement. The multiple-select format reduces the chances of correct answers by random guessing, allows students at different levels to exhibit the extent of their knowledge, and provides deeper insight into the complexity of student thinking on each theme. To date, the CDCI is the first tool dedicated to measuring student thinking about the central dogma of molecular biology, and version 5 is ready to use.
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Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences (COS)
Newman DL, Fisk JN, Snyder CM, Wright LK (2016). Development of the Central Dogma Concept Inventory. CBE-Life Sci Educ, 15(2):ar9, 1-14. doi: 10.1187/cbe.15-06-0124
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