Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access




Joel Bish

Committee Member

Joel Bish

Committee Member

Jennifer Stevenson

Committee Member

Kelly Sorenson

Department Chair

Joel Bish

Project Description

While the stated objective of undergraduate institutions is to foster higher order thinking and cultivate lifelong skills such as critical thinking, scientific reasoning, and informed inquiry, recent research suggests that the forms of assessment used are not conducive to evaluating these goals. Instead, forms of evaluation are commonly used that encourage lower order cognitive skills such as rote memorization (e.g., multiple choice questions). The structural assessment of knowledge (SAK) methodology has emerged in recent years to meet the aforementioned need of evaluating higher order concept acquisition via the Pathfinder network scaling algorithm. While the SAK methodology has been tested in fields such as chemistry, accounting, and computer science, no study has been conducted assessing its efficacy in assessing knowledge acquisition in the field of neuroscience – a knowledge gap which this study sought to fill. To do this, students were asked to rate the relatedness of a number of pairwise concepts in two main categories: gross brain anatomy and neuronal physiology. Analysis of these results indicated a significant between group effect for the “#Links”, “#Common”, and “#S – E [C}” measure, and a significant pre-post effect for the “#C – E[C]” and “#S – E[C]” measures in the gross brain anatomy. These findings indicated that learning had occurred across classes for the gross brain anatomy condition. Neither a significant between group nor a pre-post effect was observed for the neuronal physiology condition. Taken altogether, this study presents novel findings of the efficacy of the Pathfinder network scaling algorithm in assessing gross brain anatomy, and adds to the converging evidence of the overall efficacy of the SAK methodology in educational outcomes assessment.