• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Get control of your email attachments. Connect all your Gmail accounts and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio will automatically organize your file attachments. You can also connect Dokkio to Drive, Dropbox, and Slack. Sign up for free.


Assessing Competencies: Interdisciplinarity

Page history last edited by Joe Redish 8 years, 6 months ago

Assessing Competencies




Although an appreciation and understanding of interdisciplinary connections is not an explicitly articulated competency in either the SFFP or the Vision and Change (AAAS) report, it is explicit in the design and goals of the NEXUS project. It is an explicit goal of the NEXUS Physics course that students develop a good sense of the value of physics for biology and understand its connections to chemistry and math.


In order to be able to assess our success in helping students develop this competency, we need to deconstruct it -- break it up into identifiable and testable components.


Competency decomposition

  • Students should view physics as being useful in understanding important biological mechanisms.
  • Students should view chemistry as being useful in understanding important biological mechanisms.
  • Students should view mathematics as being useful in understanding important biological mechanisms.




Since most of the detailed goals of this competency are student attitudes, we build our assessment on the UMd PERG and BERG's  experience with developing Likert-scale attitude surveys ("strongly agree, agree, ...strongly disagree"). Over the past 15 years the group has developed the Maryland Physics Expectations Survey (MPEX) versions I* (for calculus-based classes) and II** (for less mathematically oriented classes) and the Maryland Biology Expectations survey (MBEX). The MPEX-I has been delivered widely (to tens of thousands of students) and has been translated into multiple languages*** and been the inspiration for the development of similar surveys, including one in chemistry.****


We are in the process of developing an Interdisciplinarity Expectations Module (IDEM) of approximately 10 items that can be combined with the MPEX, MBEX, or ChemX to probe student expectations of the role of interdisciplinary knowledge in their science learning.



* Student expectations in introductory physics, Edward F. Redish, Jeffery M. Saul, and Richard N. Steinberg, Am. J. Phys. 66, 212-224 (1998).

** Comparing and contrasting different methods for probing student epistemology and epistemological development in introductory physics, T. McCaskey, PhD Dissertation, University of Maryland, Department of Physics (2009), Chapter 3.

*** In particular, Turkish, Japanese, and Finnish.

**** New instrument for measuring student beliefs about physics and learning physics: The Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey, W. Adams, K. Perkins, M. Dubson, N. Finkelstein, and C. Wieman, Phys. Rev. ST- PER 2, 010101 (2006); CHEMX: An Instrument To Assess Students' Cognitive Expectations for Learning Chemistry, N. Grove, S. Bretz, J. Chem. Ed. 84, 1524 (2007).


Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.