Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 2019

Document Type



Hageman, C. (2019). BioCUBES: Development of a Novel Assessment to Gauge Student Understanding of Core Concepts and Competencies in Introductory Molecular Biology. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Colton Hageman 2019.


Traditionally, biology education has been divided into two main learning domains: concepts and competencies. Concepts refer to understandings of biological processes and systems, while competencies refer to the practical skills used by scientists. Historically, these two aspects have been taught and assessed separately with concepts being the focus of lecture sections and competencies being restricted to lab courses. Recently, the Vision and Change national report called for undergraduate biology education to reflect the way science is conducted by more seamlessly integrating these two domains (American Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS], 2011). As instructors work to develop more integrated curricula, a need has emerged for instruments to assess the extent to which students have mastered core concepts and competencies. BioCUBES is a novel assessment that we are developing and has undergone a thorough development process and will be one of the instruments that fill that need. Data from the pilot assessment of BioCUBES consisted of a sample of 249 undergraduate students showed a range of difficulties and generally acceptable discrimination scores.