Becca Price publishes on measuring student knowledge of biological concepts


IAS faculty member Becca Price published two co-authored papers about measuring what students know about different biological concepts. The first paper describes the Homeostasis Concept Inventory, a tool for assessing undergraduate students’ understanding of a process that is critical to physiology. Briefly, the concept of homeostasis describes the way the body maintains equilibrium, for example regulating a steady blood pressure. The Homeostasis Concept Inventory advances the development of biology concept inventories because of the sophisticated analyses used to assess its quality. The analyses considered differential item functioning (DIF)—items on concept inventories that perform differently in different populations of test-takers—to ensure that the questions are fair for different audiences. Because DIF analysis has heretofore been used infrequently within biology education, the second paper is an essay that describes its purpose and tutors people how to use it.