Analysis of introductory biology performance assessment data

Analysis of introductory biology performance assessment data measuring students’ proficiency with generating scientific explanations.

Project team: Susanna Honig and Robin Dunkin (Leaders), Lisa Hunter

The R&D team assisted in the redesign of an explanation rubric and scoring methods originally developed by McNeill & Krajcik (2009) using claim, evidence, and reasoning as the components of a complete explanation.  

Key differences in the revised rubric included separation of STEM practices from content knowledge, stronger definitions of key terms used in the rubric (e.g. “evidence” vs. “data”), greater resolution of criteria denoting 3 levels of proficiency. Analysis using the redesigned instrument, and a new performance assessment task, produced evidence that students improved their proficiency with generating scientific explanations by the end of a ten week course.

Presentations and publications:

Claim, evidence, and reasoning: Can students improve their ability to articulate scientific explanations in undergraduate biology?

Susanna Honig, Robin Dunkin, Lisa Hunter, Tamara Ball

Poster presented at the UC STEM Faculty Learning Community Annual Meeting, October 6-7, 2017, Santa Cruz, California.


  • Rubric for assessing scientific explanations
  • Scientific explanation performance assessment
  • Unit on learning how to generate scientific explanations by reading scientific literature (undergraduate introductory biology)