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Monday, November 6 • 10:15 - 11:05
Using Card Sorting as a Tool to Measure Student Cognition

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The Science One Program is a first-year interdisciplinary science experience offered at the University of British Columbia. “Big picture” scientific concepts are presented in an integrated and interdisciplinary format using first-year biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics.  While there is increasing interest in such interdisciplinary science programs, there is a lack of documented research in interdisciplinary teaching and learning, making the evaluation of student learning and program effectiveness difficult. Our work has been guided by two fundamental research questions:


1. Do Science One students “think differently” than general science students?

2. Are they more readily able to transfer knowledge across disciplinary boundaries? If so, can we measure it?


Previously, card sorting has been used to distinguish expert and novice thinking in physics (Chi, 1981), biology (Smith, 2013) and chemistry (Krieter, 2016).  We have extended this method to develop a novel card sorting instrument that measures interdisciplinary cognition.  In our instrument, students are asked to sort nine disciplinary problems (3 each from biology, chemistry and physics).  There are two hypothesized sorts:  One involving surface features (disciplines from which the question were derived), and another involving deep features (underlying interdisciplinary topics).  The manner in which cards are sorted provides insight into student cognition.


During our session, we will show that participating in an interdisciplinary science program yields a greater ability to identify the underlying interdisciplinary linkages between these problems, suggesting enhanced interdisciplinary cognition.  We will also discuss how card sort activities are a versatile method for measuring student knowledge categorization in many situations.




Chris Addison

Associate Professor of Teaching, University of British Columbia
POSTER TITLE: Assessing Interdisciplinary Thinking Using a Card Sort ActivityTHEME: Educational tools and interventions
avatar for James Charbonneau

James Charbonneau

Assistant Professor of Teaching, University of British Columbia
I'm an Instructor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UBC and the Associate Director the Science Gateway Programs, which includes Science One and the Coordinated Science Program. I spend most of my time either teaching or thinking about teaching.

Monday November 6, 2017 10:15 - 11:05 PST
Fletcher Challenge Theatre (cap. 200)

Attendees (4)