Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 29 Issue 03

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Volume 29, No. 3
Pages 18 - 21


COMMENTARY • Assessing Student Learning of Oceanography Concepts

By Leilani Arthurs  
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Ocean scientists are well versed in utilizing specialized methods and instruments to rigorously assess the ocean’s physical, chemical, biological, and geological processes and properties. With growing national interest in specifically ocean literacy for citizens of all ages (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2013) and K–12 science education in general (Next Generation Science Standards Lead States, 2013), similarly specialized methods and instruments are being developed to assess students’ learning of oceanography concepts. The purpose of this commentary is (1) to introduce Oceanography readers, particularly those who teach at the college level, to a few teaching tools, such as learning goals and Bloom’s taxonomy (Bloom, 1956), that could be immediately useful to instructors for assessing learning of oceanography concepts, and (2) to raise awareness of the availability of an instrument called the Oceanography Concept Inventory (OCI; Arthurs and Marchitto, 2011; Arthurs et al., 2015), which can help to assess student learning of oceanography concepts. Learning goals provide the foundation for creating or selecting appropriate assessments of learning, and the OCI is a ready-made instrument for assessing higher-order cognitive skills beyond the mere recall of factual information.


Arthurs, L. 2016. Assessing student learning of oceanography concepts. Oceanography 29(3):18–21, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2016.68.


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