Background/Methods The practice of natural history is one of the main ecological practices in the Four Dimensional Ecology Education (4DEE) framework. Although we often incorporate natural history in our ecology lecture and field courses, the degree to which we assess the practice of natural history is unclear. Because assessment is fundamental to teaching and learning, understanding approaches to assessing natural history is important. We conducted a national survey on assessments in ecology where respondents submitted the assessments they used in their courses. We used directed content analysis to identify elements of the 4DEE framework and their level and form of integration. Within each assessment, codes were assigned to individual questions or prompts that each represented a single independent task. Some assessments, such as exams, had many questions, whereas other assessments like lab reports only had single prompts. Therefore, our results are qualitative rather than quantitative. Although our study considered the entire 4DEE framework, in this talk, we focus on the assessment of natural history and the degree to which natural history was integrated with other elements of the 4DEE framework in assessments.
Results/Conclusions We coded assessments from 26 respondents to our survey, the majority of whom teach ecology courses at R1 universities or liberal arts colleges. All elements of the Ecology Concepts dimension were coded at least once. Elements in the Ecology Practices dimension including natural history were the next most prevalent codes. The vast majority of individual questions or prompts were coded for elements in multiple dimensions: 36% were coded for elements only in one dimension, 32% for elements in two dimensions, 23% for codes in three dimensions, and 9% for codes in all four dimensions. In many cases, Ecology Practices were integrated with elements from other dimensions. However, despite this high level of integrate across dimensions for assessments in our sample, the Ecology Practice of natural history was never integrated with other elements. As a result, assessment of the practice of natural history appears to be unidimensional. The 4DEE framework emphasizes the importance of integration across different dimensions in our teaching and assessment. The lack of such integration in the assessment of natural history suggests that we, as ecology educators, need to be more deliberate in considering how to integrate natural history with other elements of the 4DEE framework.