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Ash Heim

Post-doctoral Researcher


My postdoc research project focuses on developing the EcoBLIC, an assessment built from the Physics Lab Inventory of Critical Thinking (PLIC). The EcoBLIC will ultimately be used to evaluate students’ learning and critical thinking skills from introductory ecology labs and field courses, as well as to evaluate teaching methods. I am working with Michelle Smith and Dave Esparza in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Natasha Holmes in the Department of Physics to create experimental cases and question sets that probe students’ critical thinking skills about ecology field research data within this assessment, which will ultimately be administered to students both at and beyond Cornell.

My previous work for my Ph.D. focused on how to engage undergraduates in learning STEM. Specifically, I studied (1) the learner-centeredness among students, instructors, and experts, including how syllabi and classroom sound influence the learner-centeredness of the classroom, and (2) how undergraduates learn in informal learning environments, such as zoos. I wanted to better understand how free-choice learning experiences influence students' motivation to learn biology, goal-setting behaviors, academic performance, and general cognition.


  • Physics
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology