Domain-Specific Assessment: Bringing The Classroom Into Community College Accountability
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What Is Domain-Specific Assessment
The term "domain-specific" comes from cognitive science research that distinguishes between general reasoning skills and reasoning that depends on knowledge specific to a domain. Such research characterizes and theorizes the cognitive structure of expert knowledge and the processes experts use to navigate this structure to arrive at optimal solutions to problems. Domain-specific assessment seeks to measure student progress in learning to reason in optimal ways about a variety of problems unique to a specific domain of study or work. Our initial domains are biology and economics, fields chosen for their appeal to large numbers of undergraduates and contrasting qualities as domains.

What Are Big Ideas In A Domain?
A fundamental step in our work involves identifying those ideas from the domains of biology and economics that fundamentally change reasoning. These ideas are nonintuitive and hard-won through generations of study and refinement.

How Do Evidence-Centered Design And Principled Assessment Design Support Domain-Specific Assessment?
Using the principles of evidence-centered design and the online design system developed in the PADI project, we can more effectively create assessment tasks that focus on the outcomes we seek to measure. First, we analyze the structure of knowledge in a domain. Second, we model the knowledge and reasoning skills that are unique to the domain and reasonable for college sophomores to have learned. Third, we develop templates for the assessment tasks.

Circles Of Expertise
Domain-Specific Assessment brings together research expertise from several outstanding educational organizations:

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