Experimental design is an important component of undergraduate biology education as it generates knowledge of biology. Despite its importance, there is limited information about what students actually learn from designing experiments. Dasgupta et al (2014) reported on the development and validation of a Rubric for Experimental Design (RED), informed by a literature review and empirical analysis of thousands of undergraduate biology students’ responses to three published assessments. The RED is a useful probe for five major areas of experimental design abilities: the variable properties of an experimental subject; the manipulated variables; measurement of outcomes; accounting for variability; and the scope of inference appropriate for experimental findings. This handout puts the RED into a format that is useful for students.


This PIBERG Instructional Material was adapted by Annwesa Dasgupta and Nancy Pelaez (2017) as a handout to help students avoid typical difficulties according to the Rubric for Experimental Design (RED). It was adapted from Dasgupta AP, Anderson TR, Pelaez N (2014). Development and Validation of a Rubric for Diagnosing Students’ Experimental Design Knowledge and Difficulties. CBE Life Science Education 13, 265-284.


experiment, control, variable, variability, correlation, causation, conclusion, replication

Date of this Version


REDHandout.docx (32 kB)
The RED Guidelines in MSWord can be modified.