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ERIC Number: EJ910883
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 6
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 41
ISSN: ISSN-1931-7913
Just the Facts? Introductory Undergraduate Biology Courses Focus on Low-Level Cognitive Skills
Momsen, Jennifer L.; Long, Tammy M.; Wyse, Sara A.; Ebert-May, Diane
CBE - Life Sciences Education, v9 n4 p435-440 Win 2010
Introductory biology courses are widely criticized for overemphasizing details and rote memorization of facts. Data to support such claims, however, are surprisingly scarce. We sought to determine whether this claim was evidence-based. To do so we quantified the cognitive level of learning targeted by faculty in introductory-level biology courses. We used Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives to assign cognitive learning levels to course goals as articulated on syllabi and individual items on high-stakes assessments (i.e., exams and quizzes). Our investigation revealed the following: 1) assessment items overwhelmingly targeted lower cognitive levels, 2) the cognitive level of articulated course goals was not predictive of the cognitive level of assessment items, and 3) there was no influence of course size or institution type on the cognitive levels of assessments. These results support the claim that introductory biology courses emphasize facts more than higher-order thinking. (Contains 3 figures and 2 tables.)
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 - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A