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Assessment > Assessing Content Gain via Pre/Post-course Tests

Assessing Content Gain via Pre- and Post-course Tests: A Vignette

A 20-question ‘concept inventory’ test was administered at the start of the first term, at the end of the first term, and at the end of the second term. These time-points in a year-long curriculum are labeled ‘pre-term-1’, ‘post-term-1’, and ‘post-term-2’, respectively. The questions were designed to address our learning gains, and varied in complexity from highly practical (e.g. read the volume delivered from a pipette image) to the higher-level skills required to critically interpret kinetics data results; a control question was used that concerned material not included in the course. As shown in Figure 1 (below), students demonstrated substantial learning gains over the year-long course. The class mean improved from 52% to 77% to 79% of the questions being answered correctly, with a concomitant decrease in the standard deviation (4.49, 3.02 and 2.65 for pre-term-1, post-term-1 and post-term-2, respectively).

Figure 1: Pre– and post–course concept inventory tests

Figure 1: Pre– and post–course concept inventory tests were used to assess student learning and retention of scientific content. This histogram plots data for pre–term-1 (light grey), post–term-1 (medium gray), and post–term-2 (dark gray); numerical values and further details are presented in Gray et al., BAMBEd (2015).