Senior Lecturer University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst, Massachusetts, United States
Ludmila Tyler (University of Massachusetts Amherst)| Quira Zeidan (Johns Hopkins University)| Adele Wolfson (Wellesley College)| Sachel Villafane-Garcia (California State University, Fullerton)| John Tansey (Otterbein University)| Erika Offerdahl (Washington State University)| Debra Martin (St. Mary’s University)| Jennifer Loertscher (Seattle University)| Peter Kennelly (Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University)| Margaret Kanipes (North Carolina A&T State University)| Daniel Dries (Juniata College)| Victoria Del Gaizo Moore (Elon University)| Diane Dean (University of Saint Joseph)| Kimberly Cortes (Kennesaw State University)| L. Carastro (University of Tampa)| Kirsten Block (American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)| Cheryl Bailey (Mount Mary University)
Each year, volunteers from the biochemistry and molecular (BMB) community come together to construct and score the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Certification Exam, a tool provided to ASBMB-accredited programs for assessing key competencies in the discipline. Grounded in a community consensus about core BMB concept and skill areas, the annual exam is designed to evaluate undergraduate students’ competence in the areas of energy and metabolism; information storage and transfer; macromolecular structure, function, and assembly; and skills including analytical and quantitative reasoning. First offered in 2014, this assessment tool is now representative of a relatively mature exam development process. The one-hour exam consists of 12 questions, with a mix of multiple-select/multiple-choice and constructed-response formats, balanced across the four concept and skill areas and addressing both lower- and higher-order cognitive processing levels. Each constructed response is scored by a team of at least three BMB scientist-educators, and inter-rater reliability is calculated to ensure consistency. All questions are piloted and revised before they contribute to students’ exam scores. To date, nearly 5,000 students from over 70 colleges and universities have taken the ASBMB exam. Of these, an average of approximately 42% of students per year have scored sufficiently well to earn “Certification” of their exam performance by ASBMB; approximately 13% of students have earned “Certification with Distinction”. Upwards of 120 scientist-educators – with professional affiliations ranging from small, primarily undergraduate institutions to large research universities – have contributed to question development and/or scoring. Many volunteers have participated over multiple years; for example, 97% of the 2020 scorers plan to score again in 2021. Future directions include building the community of volunteers, expanding the question bank, delivering the exam online (in spring of 2021), and investigating the potential of the ASBMB Certification Exam to inform programmatic assessment.
Support or Funding Information
Support for this work is provided by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.