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ERIC Number: EJ1165212
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Dec
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1931-7913
Undergraduate Performance in Solving Ill-Defined Biochemistry Problems
Sensibaugh, Cheryl A.; Madrid, Nathaniel J.; Choi, Hye-Jeong; Anderson, William L.; Osgood, Marcy P.
CBE - Life Sciences Education, v16 n4 Article 63 Dec 2017
With growing interest in promoting skills related to the scientific process, we studied performance in solving ill-defined problems demonstrated by graduating biochemistry majors at a public, minority-serving university. As adoption of techniques for facilitating the attainment of higher-order learning objectives broadens, so too does the need to appropriately measure and understand student performance. We extended previous validation of the Individual Problem Solving Assessment (IPSA) and administered multiple versions of the IPSA across two semesters of biochemistry courses. A final version was taken by majors just before program exit, and student responses on that version were analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. This mixed-methods study quantifies student performance in scientific problem solving, while probing the qualitative nature of unsatisfactory solutions. Of the five domains measured by the IPSA, we found that average graduates were only successful in two areas: evaluating given experimental data to state results and reflecting on performance after the solution to the problem was provided. The primary difficulties in each domain were quite different. The most widespread challenge for students was to design an investigation that rationally aligned with a given hypothesis. We also extend the findings into pedagogical recommendations.
American Society for Cell Biology. 8120 Woodmont Avenue Suite 750, Bethesda, MD 20814-2762. Tel: 301-347-9300; Fax: 301-347-9310; e-mail:; Website:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New Mexico (Albuquerque)
Grant or Contract Numbers: DUE1043079