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Evaluating acquisition of student knowledge is a pivotal part of the educational process, as it is essential to determine what knowledge students have actually acquired, and what needs to be further elaborated. Traditionally, evaluation of student learning has been through explicit means (e.g., quizzes and tests); however, these assessment methods may have underlying disadvantages, one of which being that it is often very challenging to measure higher-level critical thinking through integration of material. Recent learning research has begun to investigate the efficiency of more implicit forms of learning acquisition evaluation. One implicit method of evaluation is the Structural Assessment of Knowledge (SAK) approach. There is a paucity of extent research directly comparing implicit and explicit evaluations, which was the purpose of the current study. More specifically, the current study directly compared the SAK approach to traditional explicit quizzes in three neuroscience domains: structure-function relationships, statistics, and neuroscience techniques. This comparison was explored in undergraduate students across year (sophomore versus senior), and major (neuroscience versus psychology). Finally, this study furthers previous research, which found differences in SAK performance based on the type of expert comparison group. Both the implicit and explicit assessment yield similar patterns of learning between domains. Additionally, seniors, in general, outperformed sophomores, and neuroscience majors outperformed psychology majors for neuroscience tailored domains (i.e., structure-function relationships and neuroscience techniques). Moreover, results on the SAK replicated findings regarding differences among expert comparison groups. These results have implications for using SAK as a supplementary learning evaluation tool.
Yeagley, Noah C., "Implicit Versus Explicit Learning Assessment of Neuroscience Concepts in Undergraduates" (2019). Neuroscience Honors Papers. 11.