The HPI Concept Inventory

The HPI concept inventory is a two-tierd concept inventory developed and validated by the HPI Teaching Team.


The HPI-CI is a multiple choice test, coupled with requests for students to explain their response choice. The inventory  targets students misconceptions related to the13 HPI concepts.The inventory was developed by our team using a collaborative stepwise process.


Host-Pathogen Interaction (HPI) concepts

  • The structural characteristics of a microbe are important in the pathogenicity of that microbe.
  • Diverse microbes use common themes to interact with the environment (host).
  • Microbes respond to forces of natural selection. Important responses include changes in virulence and antibiotic resistance.
  • Microbes adapt/respond to environment by altering gene expression.
  • Microbes have various strategies to cause disease.
  • Pathogens and host have evolved in a mutual fashion.
  • The cell wall and the cell membrane affect the bacterial response to the environment.
  • There is a distinction between a pathogen and a nonpathogen.
  • The environment will affect the phenotype (pathogenicity) of a bacterium.
  • Microbes adapt/respond to the environment by altering their metabolism.
  • Immune response has evolved to distinguish between self and nonself.
  • Immune response recognizes general properties (common themes vs. specific attributes: innate vs. adaptive).
  • Immune response memory is specific

We have used the inventory as a pre- test and a post-test in our  HPI courses. The concept inventory allows analysis of student learning and gives insight into student misconceptions. The communal analysis of the data during team meetings has been a powerful faculty development tool and motivator for curriculum design projects.


The University of Maryland HPI teaching team has developed a collaboration with the Virginia Tech Microbiology Teaching Team led by Professor Ann Stevens to use data generated by the HPI concept inventory to catalog student misconceptions. 


The HPI Concept Inventory is available. As with other similar concept inventories, the HPI-CI is most useful when considered as a faculty development tool: where use of the inventory is coupled to review and discussion of the data among course instructors.

Please contact Ann C. Smith  for a copy of the inventory




Smith, A.C. and Marbach-Ad, G. 2010. Learning Outcomes with Linked Assessments - an Essential Part of our Regular Teaching Practice. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education; 11(2): 123-129.


Marbach-Ad, G., McAdams, K.C., Benson, S., Briken, V., Cathcart, L., Chase, M., El-Sayed, N.M., Frauwirth, K., Fredericksen, B., Joseph, S.W., Lee, V.,

McIver, K.S., Mosser, D., Quimby, B.B., Shields, P., Song, W., Stein, D.C., Stewart, R., Thompson, K.V., and Smith, A.C., 2010. "A model for using a concept inventory as a tool for students' assessment and faculty professional development". CBE Life Sci Educ. Winter; 9(4):408-16.


G. Marbach-Ad (2009). From misconceptions to concept inventories. Focus on Microbiology Education, 15(2), 4-6. 


Gili Marbach-Ad, Volker Briken, Najib El-Sayed, Kennneth Frauwirth, Brenda Fredericksen, Steven Hutcheson, Lian-Yong Gao, Sam Joseph, Vincent Lee, Kevin S. McIver, David Mosser, B. Booth Quimby, Patricia Shields, Wenxia Song, Daniel C. Stein, Robert T. Yuan and Ann C. Smith (2009). Assessing Student Understanding of Host Pathogen Interactions Using a Concept Inventory" to consider for publication in the Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, 10, 43-50.


Ann C. Smith, Gili Marbach-Ad, Volker Briken, Najib El-Sayed, KennnethFrauwirth, Brenda Fredericksen, Steven Hutcheson, Lian-Yong Gao, SamJoseph, Vincent Lee,  Kevin S. McIver, David Mosser, B. Booth Quimby,Patricia Shields, Wenxia Song, Robert T. Yuan and Daniel C. Stein(2007) A Faculty Team Works to Develop a Concept Inventory thatMeasures Understanding of Microbiology Relevant to Host Pathogen Interactions. Second Conceptual Assessment in Biology (CAB II) Conference.