Construction and Evaluation of an Instrumentto Measure High School Students Biological Content Knowledge

Kathy L. Malone, William J. Boone, Andria Stammen, Anita Schuchardt, Lin Ding, Zakee Sabree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Instruments for assessing secondary students’ conceptual understanding of core concepts in biology are needed by educational practitioners and researchers alike. Most instruments available for secondary biology (years 9 to 12) focus only on highly specific biological concepts instead of multiple core concepts. This study describes the development of a 25-item instrument designed to fill this gap, the High School Biology Concept Inventory (HS-BCI). The HS-BCI not only assesses student knowledge of key biological concepts but also alternative conceptions. Using Rasch theory, the initial instrument was constructed from a pool of 61 instrument items using test results from 1015 students. The final 25-item instrument was validated with 1955 students. The results provide reliability and validity evidence for the HS-BCI. The findings suggest that it can be utilized to assess both conceptual knowledge and alternative conceptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberem2048
JournalEurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Author contributions: All authors have sufficiently contributed to the study, and agreed with the results and conclusions. Funding: This research was partially funded by a grant under the federally funded Math Science Partnership State Grants Program, under Grant number OH160505 and OH160511. Acknowledgements: We would like to thank James Roth for his work on the illustrations for the HS-BCI. Declaration of interest: No conflict of interest is declared by authors. Data sharing: The HS-BCI is available either upon request from the corresponding author or in online supplemental materials of EJMSTE.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. by the authors; licensee Modestum. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution License


  • Alternative conceptions
  • Biology
  • Concept inventories
  • Instrument construction
  • Rasch


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