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General Education Assessment Toolkit

Here are some resources that may be helpful in devising assessments for the “Understand How the Enterprise of Science Works” criteria for breadth life and physical science courses.

If you have assessments that you’re using in your course that you' woul'd like to share, please send them to Greg Podgorski for inclusion on this page.

Test of Scientific Literacy Skills

This is a 28 multiple choice question instrument with a life sciences focus, but it also contains questions that will work for any discipline of science.

Lawson’s Revised (2000) Test of Scientific Reasoning

This is a 24 multiple choice question instrument skewed toward the physical sciences, but it also contains questions set in a biology context. As the name implies, the focus is on scientific reasoning, but there are questions on experimental design and data interpretation.

Experimental Design Knowledge

This instrument is an amalgam of three different previously published tests of experimental design knowledge. The questions are open response, which may make them less suitable for very large classes, but may also provide a more probing assessment of understanding.

Physics Lab Inventory of Critical Thinking

This is a brand new (2019) instrument that can easily be administered in on online form. I’m way outside my realm as a biologist in recommending a physics lab concept inventory, but I know one author is a well-known champion of educational reform and the publication looks interesting. The authors say the full instrument can be obtained through the link below, but give only sample questions in their publication.

Scientific Literacy Concept Inventory

This is another new instrument. It was developed specifically to test science literacy in general education courses, instrument is scalable to large classes, and consists of multiple choice questions. Depressingly, the authors conclude that after “assessing the citizen-level science literacy of 17,382 undergraduate students, 149 graduate students, and 181 professors”, … “we found that general education (GE) science courses do not significantly advance understanding of science as a way of knowing.”


Note that the authors state: Faculty interested in using the SLCI should contact the corresponding author.


Experimental Design Ability Tool

This is an update of an earlier instrument to do just what the title implies. The instrument consists of 8 free response questions.

Review of Science Process Skills and Literacy Assessment

If anyone wants to dig deeper into what’s available, this review is a good starting place.