Dianne L. Anderson, Ph.D.

Program Director, Master of Science in General Biology
Professor of Biology

Dr. Dianne Anderson is the program director of PLNU's Master of Science in General Biology program, and teaches classes at the undergraduate and graduate level. In addition to her teaching, she conducts research on student learning of challenging biology concepts. The products of her research, a diagnostic test called the Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection (CINS) and biology concept cartoons, are used by teachers, researchers, and professors in classrooms across the country.

The CINS was published in 2002, then it was revised in 2013 to increase the readability and to create two versions: a middle school version and a high school/college version.  If you are a teacher or professor and would like to use one of these versions at no charge, submit a request here: dianneanderson@pointloma.edu.

The concept cartoon collection is available online at no charge. Teachers can use concept cartoons to probe the ideas held by students, and then can adjust instruction to help to move students to scientific understanding. In addition, the cartoons will also be available on the HHMI Biointeractive website by the end of 2022. Access the online collection here:  View Biology Concept Cartoons

In addition to her research and teaching, Anderson maintains an extensive collection of more than 110 species of plants at her home near campus that she uses in teaching some of her courses. She grew up on a farm in Idaho, but she and her husband, who also teaches at PLNU, have lived in San Diego for over 30 years. They have two married children, both PLNU graduates, and now 6 grandchildren.

Research Gate

PLNU Viewpoint, "How to Support Native Species in Your Home Garden"


  • Ph.D., Math & Science Education, University of California, San Diego
  • M.S., Biology, San Diego State University
  • B.S., Biology, Northwest Nazarene College

Courses Taught

  • Human Biology & Bioethics – BIO 1001
  • Organismal Biology – BIO 2012
  • Applied Plant Biology – BIO 3012
  • Biology Senior Seminar – BIO 4097
  • History & Philosophy of Science – BIO 6033
  • Research Proposal & Pilot Study – BIO 6082
  • Physiology of Plants & Animals – BIO 6065

Professional and Community Involvement

  • Church Board Member, San Diego First Church of the Nazarene
  • Member, National Association of Biology Teachers
  • Member, California Science Teachers Association
  • Board Member, Science Faith Alliance

Dissertations, Presentations, and Publications

  • Anderson, D.L., Fisher, K.M. & Smith, M.U. (2010). Support for the CINS as a Diagnostic Conceptual Inventory: Response to Nehm and Schonfeld (2008). Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 47(3), 354-357.
  • Anderson, D.L., Fisher, K.M., & Norman, G.J. (2002). Development and Evaluation of the Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 39, 953-978.
  • Anderson, D.L. (2003). Natural Selection Theory in Non-Majors Biology: Instruction, Assessment and Conceptual Difficulty. Unpublished Dissertation, University of California, San Diego Library, San Diego, CA.
  • Anderson, D.L. & Tsoukas, C.D. (1989). Cholera Toxin Inhibits Resting Human T-cell Activation via a cAMP-Independent Pathway. Journal of Immunology. 143(11), 3647-3652.