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A second National Science Foundation-sponsored workshop on Conceptual Assessment in Biology was held in January 2008. Reports prepared for the workshop revealed that research groups working in a variety of biological sciences are continuing to develop conceptual assessment instruments for use in the classroom. Discussions at this meeting largely focused on two issues: 1) the utility of the backwards design approach of Wiggins and McTighe (11), in which identification of learning outcomes (determining what to assess) lies at the beginning of course design; and 2) the utility of defining expected learning outcomes as the building of runable mental models (and designing conceptual assessments that would test the correctness of these mental models). A third meeting is being planned that will focus on the processes involved in writing and validating conceptual assessment instruments.
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