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Article
Development of a ‘universal’ rubric for assessing undergraduates’ scientific reasoning skills using scientific writing
Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
  • Briana Eileen Timmerman, University of South Carolina - Columbia
  • Denise Strickland, University of Virginia - Main Campus
  • Robert L. Johnson, University of South Carolina - Columbia
  • John R. Payne
Publication Date
4-1-2010
Document Type
Article
Subject Area(s)
Biology
Disciplines
Abstract
We developed a rubric for measuring students’ ability to reason and write scientifically. The Rubric for Science Writing (Rubric) was tested in a variety of undergraduate biology laboratory courses (total n = 142 laboratory reports) using science graduate students (teaching assistants) as raters. Generalisability analysis indicates that the Rubric provides a reliable measure of students’ abilities (g = 0.85) in these conditions. Comparison of student performance in various biology classes indicated that some scientific skills are more challenging for students to develop than others and identified a number of previously unappreciated gaps in the curriculum. Our findings suggest that use of the Rubric provides three major benefits in higher education: (1) to increase substance and consistency of grading within a course, particularly those staffed by multiple instructors or graduate teaching assistants; (2) to assess student achievement of scientific reasoning and writing skills; and (3) when used in multiple courses, to highlight gaps in alignment among course assignments and provide a common metric for assessing to what extent the curriculum is achieving programmatic goals. Lastly, biology graduate students reported that use of the Rubric facilitated their teaching and recommended that training on the Rubric be provided to all teaching assistants.
Citation Information
Briana Eileen Timmerman, Denise Strickland, Robert L. Johnson and John R. Payne. "Development of a ‘universal’ rubric for assessing undergraduates’ scientific reasoning skills using scientific writing" Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education (2010) p. 1 - 39
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/briana_timmerman/2/