What Ideas Should We Be Teaching (and How Can We Assess Whether Students Have Learned Them)?

What Ideas Should We Be Teaching, and How Can We Assess Whether Students Have Learned Them

Presented by Dr. Melanie Cooper

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 11:30 - 1:30

1425 Biomedical Physical Sciences Building

Lunch Provided

Abstract There is a saying: “If you don’t assess what’s important, what’s assessed becomes important”. What we assess in our courses sends a not so implicit message to our students about what they know and be able to do. If we only assess recall of facts and rote problem solving, then that is what students will learn - even if we have more profound goals in mind. In this workshop participants will use evidence based approaches to developing assessments that incorporate both the “big ideas” of a particular discipline and the practices of science and engineering (for example using models to explain and predict, and constructing explanations). That is we will develop assessments that ask students to use their knowledge - rather than regurgitate it.

We will also consider what evidence we would accept that a student “understands” and use this evidence to develop rubrics that can both be used to grade and to construct more informative assessments.

Melanie Cooper is the Lappan-Phillips Professor of Science Education and Professor of Chemistry at Michigan State University. She received her B.S. M.S. and Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Manchester, England. Her research has focused on improving teaching and learning in large enrollment general and organic chemistry courses at the college level, and she is a proponent of evidence-based curriculum reform for example the NSF supported “Chemistry, Life, the Universe & Everything”. She has also developed technological approaches to formative assessment that can recognize and respond to students free-form drawings such as the beSocratic system. She is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the Leadership team for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and the National Research Council advisory Board on Science Education (BOSE). She has received a number of awards including the the ACS award for research on teaching and learning 2014, the Norris award for Outstanding Achievement in teaching of chemistry in 2013, and the 2010-2011 Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award from the Society for College Science Teaching.

Video of the Session