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Diagnostic Question Cluster Organization

Understanding biological processes? requires an understanding of smaller scale processes such as those at the molecular, cellular and organismal scales. For example, understanding ecosystem processes requires an understanding of organismal processes.  Understanding cellular processes requires an understanding of molecular processes.  The diagnostic question clusters (DQC's) created for this project are designed to help professors unpack their students' understanding of biological and ecological processes, identifying smaller scale problems that limit large scale understanding.  In particular, these DQC's identify levels of student reasoning about matter and energy transformation?s occurring during these processes.

Ecology DQC's

The ecology DQC's include a multiple process "umbrella" question followed by several single process questions that help to gauge student understanding of smaller scale processes that limit their ability to understand the "umbrella" question. We have identified 6 DQC's to include in this project. All 6 of the chosen DQC's are organized around topics commonly found in introductory ecology classes.

DQC's Organized by Ecological Topics
Topic Carbon Cycling Energy Flow in Ecosystems Climate Change


Introductory Biology DQC's

Six DQC's are included in the Introductory Biology set. These DQCs are organized around biological processes that are key topics in biology courses, and are responsible for generation?, transformation and oxidation? of organic carbon. Most of the questions in these DQCs are asked at the organismal scale, but require students to reason at atomic, molecular and cellular scales to provide a scientific answer, and all questions ask students to trace matter and energy through the respective processes. Within each topic, there are two parallel DQCs that perform the same function of evaluating student reasoning with different questions, except for a couple of overlap questions for validation purposes.

DQC's Organized by Biological Processes




Cellular respiration