Assessment Instruments

This page provides ideas and links to use when designing assessments of the students who were involved in your research course or module.


Student self-assessment

Sample aspects of assessment of both student attitudes and perceptions by measuring the degree to which the experience increased students’

  • interest in science,
  • confidence in scientific methodology,
  • confidence in skill level,
  • understanding of concepts covered,
  • other areas of potential interest to developers (e.g., student’s attitudes towards teamwork, research, etc.)

Example instruments:

Critical thinking skillsExposure to research also has positive effects on the development of critical thinking skills. Such instruments would assess

      • the extent to which students can explain the objective of the research (what question did they attempt to resolve and why is it important),
      • the implications of their findings in terms of the question they were investigating as well as a broader context,
      • ability to apply the concepts they learned (e.g., can they apply their knowledge of the “scientific process to develop new questions/hypotheses when given a novel set of observations, develop a protocol for testing those hypotheses, correctly interpret results when given a novel set of results, etc.)
      • See attached Critical Thinking Grid (coming soon).

Example instruments:


Experimental design, data analysis, and scientific reasoning

Example instruments:

      • Experimental Design Ability Test (EDAT): Sirum, K and J Humburg. 2011. The Experimental Design Ability Test (EDAT). Bioscene: Journal of College Biology Teaching 37:8-16.
      • Analysis of Data Ability Test (ADAT): Sirum, K, A Majorczyk and A Andrews. 2013. Assessing Student Development of Scientific Thinking Skills using the EDAT and ADAT: The Experimental Design and Analysis of Data Ability Tests. The FASEB Journal 27:329.4
      • Biological Experimental Design Concept Inventory (BEDCI): Deane, T, K Nomme, E Jeffery, C Pollock, and G Birol. 2014. Development of the Biological Experimental Design Concept Inventory (BEDCI).  CBE Life Sci Educ. 13:540–551.
      • Data Analysis Skills in Molecular Biology: Rybarczyk, BJ, KLW Walton, WH Grillo. 2014. The Development and Implementation of an Instrument to Assess Students’ Data Analysis Skills in Molecular Biology. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education 15: 259-267.
      • Classroom Test of Scientific Reasoning. Revised Edition: August 2000 by Anton E. Lawson, Arizona State University. Based on: Lawson, A.E. 1978. Development and
        validation of the classroom test of formal reasoning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 15(1): 11-24.


Scientific Literacy

Example instruments:

      • Test of Scientific Literacy Skills (TOSLS):  Gormally, C., P. Brickman, M. Lutz. (2012) Developing a Test of Scientific Literacy Skills (TOSLS): Measuring undergraduates’ evaluation of scientific information and arguments. CBE-Life Sci Educ. 11: 364-377.


Content knowledge

Example instruments: