How much is too much assessment? Insight into assessment-driven student learning gains in large-scale undergraduate microbiology courses

Wang, Jack T. H., Schembri, Mark A. and Hall, Roy A. (2013) How much is too much assessment? Insight into assessment-driven student learning gains in large-scale undergraduate microbiology courses. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, 14 1: 12-24. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.449


Author Wang, Jack T. H.
Schembri, Mark A.
Hall, Roy A.
Title How much is too much assessment? Insight into assessment-driven student learning gains in large-scale undergraduate microbiology courses
Journal name Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1935-7877
1935-7885
Publication date 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.449
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 14
Issue 1
Start page 12
End page 24
Total pages 13
Place of publication Washington, DC, United States
Publisher American Society for Microbiology
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Abstract Designing and implementing assessment tasks in large-scale undergraduate science courses is a labor-intensive process subject to increasing scrutiny from students and quality assurance authorities alike. Recent pedagogical research has provided conceptual frameworks for teaching introductory undergraduate microbiology, but has yet to define best-practice assessment guidelines. This study assessed the applicability of Biggs’ theory of constructive alignment in designing consistent learning objectives, activities, and assessment items that aligned with ASM’s concept-based microbiology curriculum in MICR2000, an introductory microbiology course offered at the University of Queensland, Australia. By improving the internal consistency in assessment criteria and increasing the number of assessment items explicitly aligned to the course learning objectives, the teaching team was able to efficiently provide adequate feedback on numerous assessment tasks throughout the semester that bolstered student performance and learning gains. When comparing the constructively aligned 2011 offering of MICR2000 to its 2010 counterpart, students obtained higher marks in both coursework assignments and examinations as the semester progressed. Students also valued the additional feedback provided, as student rankings for course feedback provision increased in 2011 and assessment and feedback was identified as a key strength of MICR2000. Evidently by designing MICR2000 using constructive alignment and iterative assessment tasks that followed a common set of learning outcomes, the teaching team was able to effectively deliver detailed and timely feedback in a large introductory microbiology course. This study serves as a case study for how constructive alignment can be integrated into real-world teaching practices for large-scale courses.
Keyword Assessment
Constructive alignment
Concept-based microbiology curriculum
Student learning gains
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
 
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Created: Fri, 28 Jun 2013, 09:50:13 EST by Mrs Louise Nimwegen on behalf of School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences