Assessing How Individuals Organize Disciplinary Knowledge – Card Sorting, Superheroes, and Moving Towards Measuring Expertise among Undergraduates

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Kimberly Tanner, Ph.D.
Professor & Director of The Science Education Partnership and Assessment Laboratory (SEPAL)
Department of Biology
San Francisco State University

How do experts structure their thinking about the concepts in their discipline? How is this different from the way those new to a discipline organized these same ideas? How, if at all, does undergraduate education in a discipline affect how an individual organizes their disciplinary knowledge? In this interactive session, participants will engage in exploring differences in expert and novice thinking, which is grounded in theories and methodologies from both science education and cognitive psychology. Attendees will participate in a card sorting exercise to explore the many ways that knowledge within a discipline can be organized. Additionally, participants will then have the opportunity to make predictions about potential organizational frameworks that might be used by novices and experts within their own disciplines. Finally, participants will make predictions about and evaluate primary research data on the influence of undergraduate education on novice-to-expert transitions in the field of biological science, as an example.


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Jasmine Martin
  • Created:01/31/2020
  • Modified By:Jasmine Martin
  • Modified:01/31/2020