Reflection: Performance Tasks Biotechnology Pathway Midterm - Section 2: Sample Biotechnology III Midterm


Great summative assessments are not borrowed they are made...and that is not an easy undertaking. When designing Midterm Exams I have always been concerned with the amount of time it takes to compose well-designed summative assessment questions and that textbook test banks have not always provided test items that are aligned with the big ideas and key concepts of the courses I am teaching. I have been guilty of giving my students long, 100+ item multiple choice, scantron exams which are not inherently wrong however they provide very little information about the depth of my students understanding.

There is a difference between science knowledge and conceptual science understanding however both are valuable. When creating assessments I try to reach a balance between the recall, factoid, identify questions and the application questions that demonstrate a deeper conceptual understanding of the big ideas in science and questions that assess laboratory skills.


STRATEGY #1 - Streamline the Curriculum Opting for Depth over Breadth

In Item #34 (p.12) students analyze the zone of inhibition in an effort to determine antibiotic susceptibility. Students encounter an application of concepts in microbiology and the skill of performing Kirby Bauer assays in the lesson Combinatorial Chemistry Designing Novel Drug Therapies.

STRATEGY #2 - Identify Big Ideas, Key Concepts and Core Skills

Item #1 (p.1) addresses the core skill of solid media preparation which is a foundational technique in biotechnology as seen in the lesson So What Do I Do Know?

STRATEGY #3 - How Do I Know What They Know? (Assessment Design)

Items #31 and #32 (p.11) attempts to address student understanding of the bacterial growth curve which explains how bacterial infections spread. The concepts assessed in this test item are explored in the lesson Combinatorial Chemistry Designing Novel Drug Therapies.

  Performance Tasks: Tales from a Recovering Testaholic
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Biotechnology Pathway Midterm

Unit 4: Assessments in Biotechnology
Lesson 2 of 6

Objective: Students will be able to demonstrate mastery of the learning goals and objectives which serve as the foundation of our course of study in the Biotechnology pathway.

Big Idea: Demonstrating mastery in biotechnology requires an assessment that measures both theoretical and practical knowledge.

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