Biology placement exams

Jerry Bricker lcjbrick at ANTELOPE.WCC.EDU
Mon Oct 16 16:36:44 CDT 1995

Dear all:

I currently teach at a small (5,000 students) community college in the
rural west (i.e., Cheyenne, WY).  The biology faculty has been struggling
with a problem the last few years that we hope can be solved by
connecting with right people nationally.

Our college, as with all community colleges, has an open door admissions
policy.  That means that students with the desire and tuition can enroll
in most courses on our campus, especially if those courses are taught at
the "freshman" level.  The major difficulty with this policy is that most
students have never taken a course in the sciences or it has been years
since they did so in high school (the avg. age of our student body is
32).  To complicate things further, we teach human anatomy and physiology
at the sophomore level and are prohibited from requiring Gen. Biol. I as a
prerequisite due to our Nursing program's limit on total permitted degree hours.

As you may imagine, trying to teach a course with a diverse student body
is an extremely challenging and frustrating proposition.  The college as
a whole is going to mandatory placement for all students as our
experience in biology is not unique to our program.  The problem in the
sciences is finding a good placement exam that works.

I would like to ask all members of the TAXACOM discussion group if anyone
out there knows where a good (computerized) placement exam can be found.
We curret to find one for biology.

We are looking for an exam that addresses whether a student possesses the
sufficient preparation to be successful in a course of their liking in our
biology sequence.  For that reason, we are leary of writing our own exam
as we are afraid that it will be just be a test measuring mastered content
and not be a good placement tool.

I am sure that our program is not the first, nor will it be the last, to
face this issue.  The college is willing to purchase into a quality program
so be assured we aren't looking to do this on the cheap.

Can anyone out there help me, please?

Jerry Bricker
Department of Biology
Laramie County Community College
Cheyenne, WY 82007
Office phone: (307) 778-1139
Fax: (307) 778-1399
lcjbrick at

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