Conceptual Assessment of Physiology

Team Members

Jenny McFarland

Jenny McFarland, PhD, is emeritus faculty and former chair of the Biology department at Edmonds Community College. She has experience teaching physiology to diverse groups of undergraduates. She has actively participated in projects to improve and reform biology education, including FIRST II and Mathematics Across the Curriculum (MAC), the Curriculum for the Bioregion, Conceptual Assessment in Biology (CABII & CABIII meetings) and has a history of engagement in interdisciplinary and active learning. She has is also a PULSE (Partnership in Undergraduate Life Science Education) leadership fellow. Jenny McFarland @ Google Scholar

Joel Michael

Joel Michael, PhD, is a professor emeritus in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Physiology at Rush Medical College. His educational research has helped faculty examine student understanding of physiological phenomena and their misconceptions about physiological responses. He is a strong proponent of incorporating active learning in physiology education at all levels (undergraduate through medical school). Dr. Michael received the American Physiological Society's Claude Bernard Distinguished Lectureship Award in 2001. Joel Michael @ Google Scholar

Bill Cliff

Bill Cliff, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Biology at Niagara University where he teaches courses in human anatomy and physiology, animal physiology, and natural history. He investigates how active and integrative approaches to learning impact student understanding of biology. In particular, he has examined the influence of case-based learning on conceptual change and misconception repair in physiology. He routinely uses concept inventories, concept mapping and structured Interviews to assess student learning. He is a Carnegie Scholar at the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, and a Member of Project Kaleidoscope’s F21 (Faculty for the 21st century). He has been a regular contributor to the annual summer workshops sponsored by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, an investigative member of the Physiology Education Research Consortium, and a workshop facilitator at the Biology Scholars Program (2008-2011). He serves on the editorial board of Advances in Physiology Education.

Ann Wright

Ann Wright, PhD, was a professor of Biology at Canisius College with a Ph.D. in science education, in addition to graduate work in zoology and exercise physiology. She was a beloved teacher of undergraduate physiology and did research in science education with interests in using active learning, service learning and case studies to promote student engagement and conceptual understanding. Celebration of Life Canisius Announcment

Mary Pat Wenderoth

Mary Pat Wenderoth is a Principal Lecturer in the Biology Department at the University of Washington (UW) where she teaches animal physiology courses and conducts biology education research on how students learn biology. She has worked extensively to integrate active learning and formative assessment in learner-centered teaching and learning while teaching large undergraduate physiology lectures. Her work to improve student learning has involved identifying student misconceptions in physiology and using Bloom’s taxonomy explicitly with students to improve conceptual understanding. She received the UW Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001 and has served as the co-director of the UW Teaching Academy. She is a co-founder of the UW Biology Education Research Group (UW BERG) and the national Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research (SABER). She has served as a facilitator at the HHMI Summer Institute for Undergraduate Biology Education since 2007 and co-led the Northwest Regional Summer Institutes from 2011 to 2013. Mary Pat Wenderoth @ Google Scholar

Harold Modell

Harold Modell, PhD, is Director of the Physiology Educational Research Consortium (PERC). Dr. Modell’s primary professional interest is in research and development aimed at improving classroom practice to promote meaningful learning. Dr. Modell’s philosophy is that the student is responsible for his or her learning. The instructor’s job is to help the learner to learn. To engage in meaningful learning, the student must build and test mental models of the "world." This process requires engaging the material to make sense of the world rather than acquire information about the world. Dr. Modell received the American Physiological Society's Claude Bernard Distinguished Lectureship Award in 2004.

Jennifer Doherty

Jennifer Doherty, PhD, joined the University of Washington Biology Education Research Group in September of 2014. She finished a post-doc at Michigan State, where she worked on Environmental Literacy with Andy Anderson. Their work focuses on understanding students’ conceptual understanding and learning of ecology, as well as evidence-based tools and implementation for deep understanding of STEM topics. She is now working on learning progressions, in particular, how college students develop understanding of physiology and apply their knowledge and skills to solve novel problems. "In my research, I use a learning progressions approach that coherently links three dimensions of this type of teaching: students’ naïve conceptions, data from learning assessments, and instructional tools and approaches.”


Patricia Martinkova

Patricia Martinkova, PhD, is a visiting research scholar in the Department of Statistics, University of Washington and a visiting affiliate with the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences, University of Washington. She was a Fulbright-Masaryk fellow during 2013–2014. Her research focuses on developing models and estimators for measuring the quality of educational tests, psychological assessments and health measurements. She is interested in estimation of the reliability and validity of measurements, scale development, estimation of item properties, and the wide topic of latent variable models. Her applied research uses these methodologies to analyze data, mainly from educational testing and health measurements. As a visiting lecturer at UW in 2015, she taught graduate course on Item Response Theory and large undergraduate course on Statistical Concepts and Methods for Social Sciences. Her home institution is the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Project Evaluators

Becca Price

Rebecca M Price, PhD, joined the project as an external evaluator. After completing the final evaluation of the project funded by NSF DUE-1043443, she joined the research team. Becca is an associate professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell who researches how college students learn challenging biological concepts. She was the co-PI of the EvoCI Toolkit, a project funded by NESCent to develop a concept inventories about different evolutionary concepts: genetic drift, dominance in allelic pairs, and evo-devo (evolutionary development). Becca is also the executive director of the Science Teaching Experience for Postdocs (STEP) Program, an opportunity through which biomedical postdocs develop and teach their own seminars for undergraduate.

​Jennie Dorman​

Jennie Dorman, PhD, served as external evaluator for the first year of the project. After receiving her PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology, Jennie worked for 5 years at the University of Washington's teaching and learning center, the Center for Instructional Development and Research, where she developed expertise in biology teaching and learning and in science education research. She currently works at UCSF in the Office of Career and Professional Development as Program Manager of Professional Skills Development for Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows in the life sciences.