Assessing Secondary Science Students' Knowledge of Molecule Movement, Concentration Gradients, and Equilibrium through Multiple Contexts
Research in Science & Technological Education Volume 33, Number 3, ISSN 0263-5143
Background: Studies have shown that students' knowledge of osmosis and diffusion and the concepts associated with these processes is often inaccurate. This is important to address, as these concepts not only provide the foundation for more advanced topics in biology and chemistry, but are also threaded throughout both state and national science standards. Purpose: In this study, designed to determine the completeness and accuracy of three specific students' knowledge of molecule movement, concentration gradients, and equilibrium, I sought to address the following question: Using multiple evaluative methods, how can students' knowledge of molecule movement, concentration gradients, and equilibrium be characterized? Sample: This study focuses on data gathered from three students--Emma, Henry, and Riley--all of whom were gifted/honors ninth-grade biology students at a suburban high school in the southeast United States. Design and Methods: Using various qualitative data analysis techniques, I analyzed multiple sources of data from the three students, including multiple-choice test results, written free-response answers, think-aloud interview responses, and student drawings. Results: Results of the analysis showed that students maintained misconceptions about molecule movement, concentration gradients, and equilibrium. The conceptual knowledge students demonstrated differed depending on the assessment method, with the most distinct differences appearing on the multiple-choice versus the free-response questions, and in verbal versus written formats. Conclusions: Multiple levels of assessment may be required to obtain an accurate picture of content knowledge, as free-response and illustrative tasks made it difficult for students to conceal any misconceptions. Using a variety of assessment methods within a section of the curriculum can arguably help to provide a deeper understanding of student knowledge and learning, as well as illuminate misconceptions that may have remained unknown if only one assessment method was used. Furthermore, beyond simply evaluating past learning, multiple assessment methods may aid in student comprehension of key concepts.
Raven, S. (2015). Assessing Secondary Science Students' Knowledge of Molecule Movement, Concentration Gradients, and Equilibrium through Multiple Contexts. Research in Science & Technological Education, 33(3), 269-303.