Using concept maps to assess student learning of biochemistry
Camilla Misa (Student) and Bryan White, Ph.D. (Science and Technology Program)
Biochemistry knowledge is often assessed via performance on exams and problem sets. These tools can measure the abilities of students to answer a range of questions and is a rigorous form of assessment; however, these tests may not adequately illustrate the connections students are making between biochemistry concepts and between what they are learning in the classroom and their lives outside the classroom. Perhaps emphasizing these connections in parallel with traditional biochemistry assessments can help encourage long term learning. Eighteen students took biochemistry in its inaugural year at the University of Washington Bothell. Students worked in pairs and created concept maps on “What is biochemistry?” on the first and last days of the class. We will analyze the changes in concept maps between the start of the quarter and the end of the quarter and see how the differences map to the curriculum of the course. In addition we will look for examples of connections and understanding that might not be uncovered in traditional exams. We hope that this exercise might be useful for both the instructor and the student to recognize learning gains achieved during the quarter.