2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


HUDLEY, Melissa O., GRANEY, Joseph R. and SALVAGE, Karen M., Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies, Binghamton University-SUNY, P.O. Box 6000, Binghamton, NY 13902-6000, moberha1@binghamton.edu

Assessments typically utilized in science courses are designed to evaluate the traditional approach to learning, which is focused on the mastery of content. New assessment techniques are needed in order to effectively evaluate inquiry-driven, field-based science courses that also emphasize the development of skills and conceptual understanding .We present a framework for reflecting on, assessing, and improving the educational quality of an inquiry-driven environmental hydrology course taught at Binghamton University. The course is designed to teach undergraduates the basic principles of hydrology via the completion of 10 field- based laboratory exercises and corresponding lectures. Due to the field-intensive nature of the course, traditional methods of assessment were not ideal for evaluating student progress and course effectiveness. We developed a method of course evaluation involving a combination of diagnostic assessments, formative assessments, and summative assessments administered on a continuous basis as pre- and post-lab assessments. Students were issued a pre-assessment consisting of 5-8 multiple choice or true/false questions and 2-4 short answer, critical thinking questions prior to the commencement of each laboratory exercise. An identical post assessment survey was issued once the laboratory exercise was completed. The pre and post assessments provided a continuous method of evaluating student progress. In addition, a summative post assessment was administered at the end of the course to measure the effectiveness of the course and the assessment methodologies. Results indicated that the students perform better when they are given both pre and post assessments rather than when given only post assessments, because the pre-assessment provides a means to introduce the students to the concepts to be developed within each exercise. Furthermore, review of the pre-and post assessments show that each student is leaving this inquiry-based course with a clear improvement in conceptual thinking and understanding of the scientific process as well as content mastery.