Scientific Learning: Measuring Outcomes in Generative, Experiential Science Courses


Christine Marshall-Walker recently collaborated with Samuel T. Moulton, PhD, an educational psychologist and leader in the assessment of teaching and learning, with support from the Tang Institute and Library/Institutional Research teams, to develop an instrument that will be used to quantitatively measure various aspects of scholarly development and academic maturation. This work intends to support the interest of the Science Division to stimulate more vision-based curriculum development, especially in considering exciting new scaffolds.

A synthesis of existing and novel surveys, the instrument was designed to be content-independent and to highlight the following:

  • Scientific Literacy: Attitudes about science: valuation, enjoyment, self-efficacy
  • Learning Disposition: Appreciation for the biological basis of learning and memory, importance of iteration and deliberate practice in memory formation and retention; ongoing collaboration with Noah Rachlin
  • Scientific Learning: The ability to reflect upon one’s own learning process, to modify ineffective habits of mind and to incorporate deliberately more effective learning strategies
  • Academic Conviction: Readiness to enter the arena of authority, self-author truths based upon rules of evidence (ability to substantiate, justify, and communicate academic ideas using multiple, potentially-conflicting measures; ability to apply scientific thinking/writing/communicating to novel “near tasks”)Note: Academic conviction is approached only generally within this instrument; it will be addressed in greater depth through a series of qualitative reflections and other forms of assessment.

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