Montana State University
The Graduate School > MSSE Home > Capstone Abstracts

Intercollege Programs for Science Education

Montana State University
P.O. Box 172805
Bozeman, MT 59717-2805

Tel: (406) 994-5679
Fax: (406) 994-5575
E-mail: msse@montana.edu
Location: 401 Linfield Hall

Director:

Dr. Peggy Taylor

2005 Capstone Project Abstracts

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Marc Afifi
Suddenly I'm a Technophile! A Traditional Physics Teacher Goes High Tech Using Microcomputer-Based Laboratory Activities to Study Kinematics

This study investigated use of microcomputer-based laboratory (MBL) activities in a high school physics classroom. Past practice focused on mathematical techniques. However, a pilot study showed that students enjoyed using MBL equipment more than traditional paper tape timers and manual mathematical analysis. The use of MBL was incorporated. Findings included a focus on the concepts of physics was facilitated. MBL use was an efficacious alternative to traditional teaching methods. Student math anxiety was reduced and teacher satisfaction improved. As an added bonus, the author became proficient in networking computers wirelessly.

Christine Bergholtz
Changing Methods of Teaching Vocabulary so Physics Students Better Understand Concepts

This study was done to find ways to increase student success with physics vocabulary or terminology. The objective was to look at the way I teach vocabulary and try different methods for teaching the vocabulary to help students be more successful on unit tests. I examined student learning styles and changed teaching methods to better meet their needs. Methods included the use of Balderdash, Pictionary, and Word Parts. Another goal was to transition away from the lecture format and present concepts with a teacher as “facilitator” role for a student centered classroom.

Matt Bilen
Effects of Differentiation and Learning Style-Focused Instruction in a Middle School Classroom

Students learn in very unique ways, and teachers must meet those learning needs through varied instruction. Through differentiated instruction, a teacher can alleviate behavior issues, motivate students, and generate enthusiasm as well as allow students a custom education to some degree. In a five-week period, three major learning styles (auditory, visual, and kinesthetic/tactile) were incorporated. Each class period was divided roughly into thirds and content was taught using a three-phased approach. Although less material was covered, students were comfortable with their learning. Creativity and diversity of instruction were the main focus of this project.

Andy Broyles
Does Guided Inquiry Help Improve My Teaching: Yes, But

The journey of a teacher is never over. We move from location to location. We learn new techniques. But, in the end it comes down to these basics: incorporate a lot of different teaching methods, use a variety of methods, care about your students, work cooperatively with their parents, but most of all care. Even when the journey gets tough, there is worth and value in the struggle.

Brendan Casey
What Effect Does Student Metacognition on Processing Tasks, and the Subsequent Use of that Knowledge, Have on Middle School Science Students?

Students are often told how to learn, but the most successful learners capitalize on their own unique strengths to learn best. In this project eighth grade students were given the opportunity to explore their own learning strengths and to use the knowledge they gained to digest their classroom notes. Attitude survey, test scores, and actual work samples were used to assess how successful the students were, and the results were encouraging.

Peggy Collins
Developing Community in a Distance Classroom

What part does a sense of community play in a successful distance learning experience? Is it unimportant, or can it address some of the limitations of the medium? This study focused on an Honors Astronomy course, offered in an asynchronous format to high school juniors and seniors.

Andrew Conger
Using Interdisciplinary Studies to Enhance Understanding of Scientific Concepts

The purpose of this study was to determine if interdisciplinary learning could attract the interest of students who prefer other subjects to science and improve their learning of scientific concepts. Three interdisciplinary units were designed and implemented. Each unit included a pre-survey and post-survey, a pre-assessment and post-assessment, student interviews, and a teacher journal to measure changes in students' interest, understanding of scientific concepts, and behavior during each unit. The data supported the use of interdisciplinary learning. Students were more interested in the science concepts when introduced within the context of another academic discipline, and overall learning of the appropriate science concepts improved.

Michelle Cullen
Community College Student Reactions to Cooperative Learning Activities is Normal Nutrition

This study considered the degree that cooperative learning could be successfully used in the college setting. Action research utilized a pre and post survey, comparison of quiz results following traditional lecture versus cooperative lessons, and the two-stage cooperative exam. Cooperative Learning activities were not immediately successful, but in time students became engaged. They were enthusiastic about the cooperative final exam that provided closure to the semester experiment.

Richard Davis
Performance Assessments in Physics and Physical Science

Does the use of performance assessments in conjunction with traditional assessment methods improve test scores of students in physics and physical science at Lustre Christian High School? Traditional tests in science use true/false, multiple choice and essay questions to evaluate student learning. Performance assessments use hands on activities to evaluate student performance through inquiry learning. Rubrics, which define performance standards, were used to evaluate student learning. Performance assessments are an additional tool for evaluating student learning and increased student interest in science.

Eric Dougherty
Connecting Science Education to Real Life Experiences through the Integration of Local Wildlife

This action research project dealt with integrating local wildlife of coastal North Carolina into the standard course of study for 3rd grade public school students. The material was thematically added to the required curriculum and also taught through living specimens, teacher made pictorial and video documentaries and stand-alone lessons. Connections between home and school were evaluated as well as impact on student confidence and learning. The results of the study support the belief that children are empowered by real world knowledge and learn best when being taught through strengths and interests.

Brian Edlund
What Impact Do Inquiry Centered Learning Stations Have on Student Ability to Observe, Reason and Form Conclusions?

Constructivist teaching strategies encourage learners to bring into the learning environment past experiences to be reshaped and built upon. This study examined the effect of a constructivist approach with learning stations in an eighth grade earth science course. Learning stations engaged students in the topic and allowed further exploration, giving students a background in the topic for class discussions. Results indicated students became proud of their personal learning abilities and realized that interest in a topic is dependent upon knowledge and experience with the topic.

Rachel Endelman
The Use of Science Research Projects to Impact Student Critical Thinking Skills and Scientific Literacy

This study examined how scientific research projects impact student critical thinking skills and scientific literacy. Three classes of Advanced Biology students were taught how to do scientific research. Critical thinking skills and scientific literacy were assessed before and after the treatment. The data showed an increase in scientific literacy. Findings for critical thinking skills were mixed, with one instrument showing an increase and the other no change. Overall, the process of teaching students to do scientific research did impact their understanding of the nature of science and their critical thinking skills.

Monica French
Does Pairing Field Experience with Statistical Analysis Facilitate Higher Order Thinking?

This study determined how pairing field experience with statistical analysis affected higher order thinking. The first goal examined whether field work coupled with statistical analysis improved student higher order thinking skills. A second goal examined impact of the educational setting. Students participated in field trips where they collected data for statistical analysis. Student performance of higher order thinking skills were compared pre and post field experiences. Post-treatment student surveys were conducted. Data supported the premise that statistical analysis of data colleted by students facilitated, to a greater degree, higher order thinking when compared to traditional in-class experiences.

Nelson Fuamenya
How Does the Use of Various Reading Strategies Improve Achievement in Science for English Second Language (ESL) Students?

English as a medium to gain knowledge challenges my ESL students. To be successful, they no longer needed to memorize large volumes of text, but needed to understand, analyze and apply concepts. This study evaluated how the implementation of various reading strategies could improve achievement in science. Using anticipation guides, vocabulary notebook construction, Cloze procedure, surveys and re-tell activities, the study concluded students reached a higher comprehension level. Now more than ever, I feel the urge to act in a chosen direction, evaluate my actions; and change the direction of my actions in the light of my evaluations.

Ricarda Hanson
Comparing Completion Rates of Computer Based and Text Based Entry Level Math Courses at Chief Dull Knife College

Mathematics course completion rates are a topic of concern at Chief Dull Knife College. Entry level mathematics courses are not competed at the same rate as other subjects. Chief Dull Knife College has recently changed from text based learning to computer based learning. In this study, completions rates were determined for the text based and computer based courses. Findings indicated completion rates for Introductory Mathematics improved for the computer based learning, while completion rates for the Introductory Algebra courses decreased with computer based learning. Completion rates were also analyzed by age, gender, and ethnicity.

Kelley Hoffman
Implementation of a Science Investigation in College Preparatory Science Classrooms

This study focused on science project effect on the knowledge, skills and confidence of the college bound student. Data was collected on student confidence and ability level. Methods included pre and post confidence and teacher feedback surveys; evaluation of student project prospectuses and final project; a teacher journal; and student interviews. Student ability to design and conduct a scientific study increased, indicating projects were an effective teaching tool. Yet, student confidence and teacher effectiveness, as indicated by students, decreased. The study exposed areas of weakness in reading about science.

Diane Holloway
The Use of Graphic Organizers with Second and Third Language Students

The purpose of this project was to determine if the use of graphic organizers would help functionally multi-lingual students improve their ability to recall and to use information on assessments. Student surveys helped to identify the most comfortable language(s) for students to use for speaking, writing and reading. Graphic organizers were developed and introduced to the students, a new one with each unit studied. Students were assessed on the Middle Years Programme Criterion C: Scientific Knowledge and Concepts. After each assessment, the students were surveyed for their opinion on the effectiveness of each type of graphic organizer.

Steve Huffman
Does Encouraging Adolescent Science Students to Reflect on Their Use of Intelligent Behaviors Help Them Become More Successful Learners?

Earth science students were introduced to Costa and Kallick's 16 intelligent behaviors to determine whether it would help them become more successful learners. A comparison of survey results showed an average decrease of 8% in self-assessment scores, indicating that students actually behaved less intelligently over the school year. However, further investigation suggested students became more self-critical as they matured and became more capable of recognizing the 16 intelligent behaviors in themselves and others.

Cathy James-Springer
Just Another Vee Diagram: My Insight into Students’ Thinking!
Vee Diagrams as a Preparation and Bridging Tool

In this study, Vee Diagrams were used as a tool that would give the teacher the ability to assess theoretical misunderstandings and to help students see the link between theory and practical work. Students also used the Vee diagram as a method of preparation for the experiments. The students were between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years old. The results showed an overall positive change in teacher behavior and student attitude to weekly experiments. The Vee diagram was limited in its use to evaluate theoretical misconceptions, but was very effective in making students see the link between the chemistry theory and practical. Students found it to be a very useful preparation tool.

Roby Johnson
The Effects of Focusing on Learning-Styles in a Middle School Science Classroom

The results of changing educational practices focusing on the learning styles of teacher and students in an eighth grade integrated science class indicated improved teaching and learning by individualizing instruction and student activities. Learning style theory is a popular educational theory that identifies student differences in terms of their preferential learning environment. The teacher designed instruction so that students utilized kinesthetic, auditory, and visual learning styles to insure understanding of complex cognitive ideas. Student assessments indicated positive trends in the utilization meta-thinking strategies and student attitude towards instruction. Instructional strategies were matched to classroom demographics and a greater system of teacher and student reflection was established.

Ryan Kapping
Using Authentic Assessment to Improve Student Attitudes, Confidence, and Performance in Biology Class

This research measured student attitudes and confidence related to tasks in biology class after making use of authentic assessments prior to traditional summative examinations. Student attitudes and confidence were measured prior to and following the use of authentic assessments. The authentic assessments served as a formative example of assessment in which students modified their knowledge of the subject content to improve overall student performance on traditional biology exams. Student performance in biology classes that utilized authentic assessments was compared to student performance in biology classes that had not used authentic assessments. In addition, the teacher’s ability to identify and correct student misconceptions also improved as a result of authentic assessments.

Nicole Kirschten
Comparison of Three Teaching Methods to Improve Student Understanding of Biological Processes

This study compared the effects of three teaching methods on student performance over three post-assessment tests. Teaching methods included essay writing, skit performance and essay writing followed by skit performance. There were three sections with a combined total of fifty-eight tenth grade students. Topics included cellular respiration, photosynthesis and nutrition. Teaching method was assigned to each topic so that each section experienced every teaching method, but only one teaching method per topic. All teaching methods resulted in significant improvement from pre- to post-assessment. Variation among students contributed to lack of significance in improvement based on teaching method.

Anita Linder
Collaboration and Inquiry Activities: Do they make me a better teacher?

How can I modify my teaching to make class investigations more inquiry-based? Data were collected to ascertain initial student opinion before a collaborative, cross curriculum crime scene investigation unit was introduced. Research focused on four sophomore physical science classes. Data supported the change in activity and caused a positive teacher change. Varied instructional techniques were implemented, with emphasis on guided/inquiry. The teacher improved questioning style and enjoyed class more. Also, the incorporation of the crime scene investigation unit improved collegial relationships across participating departments.

Brad Loveday
Effects of Technology in the Lecture Setting of a Science Classroom

Students express a high interest in the use of technology in the classroom. This study investigated the effects of technology on students' comprehension in the science classroom with the aid of a data projector, Smartboard and CR-ROM software. In addition, does student attitude toward technology change if continually exposed to a new form of technology? Students were given pre- and post-project surveys, pre and post Group Instructional Feedback. Comparative test results were done between students using the new technology and students that did not use the new technology. The results, for the most part, showed a positive correlation between the use of technology, higher test scores and positive attitudes.

Justin Lovrien
The Use of Forensic Science Investigation to Increase Involvement of Low-Achieving Students in High School Science Education

The purpose of this study was to increase the involvement of students in science electives. Forensic science was implemented as a high-interest topic in a semester course. Topics were taught using several methods, largely stressing inquiry labs. The effectiveness of the course was judged using surveys, interviews, a reflective journal, and records of course grades and project completion rates. Overall, students responded to the open-ended topics, but required the structure and guidance characteristic of guided inquiry methods. Teaching was most effective when clear goals and frequent feedback were provided, especially for students lacking past success in science courses.

Leslie McDaniel
“Let’s Get Real!” – The Effects of Making Real World Connections

This project focused on incorporating real world connections in the middle school science classroom and measuring the effect of those connections on the teacher’s learning, teaching, and attitude. The project also aimed to determine the students’ idea of the real world and the effect of real world connections on their attitudes towards science. Through the use of evaluation tools such as surveys, journals, and observations, the teacher determined the effect of real world connections such as field trips, speakers, and real world data. As a result of this action research project, the teacher actively reflected on her teaching methods and consciously worked towards aligning her teaching with her goals.

Carla McFadden
Hand’s-On Constructivist Science in a Detention School Classroom

Removed from mainstream classrooms, incarcerated youth in a secure facility have limited access to activity based learning. This project surveyed student learning styles, based on which a number of kinesthetic, constructivist science activities were developed to integrate into the existing science curriculum. Constructivist learning provides experiences by which to build science process skills and assist in developing critical thinking, social skills and expository writing practice. Project data supports that the hands-on instructional method actively engaged students in communicating science vocabulary, constructing science concepts, and increasing student-teacher interaction and science discussion. The implementation of hands-on constructivist learning activities did not disrupt safety and security in the facility.

Valdine McLean
To Question or Not to Question, is That the Answer?
a.k.a. “Teaching in the Garden of Life”

Can one dare teach a few topics for mastery through Socratic Methods in this standards based society? Learning through asking questions, a natural ability of humans, has been suppressed since about fourth grade when “official” learning occurs. How does one revive this innate skill? Can Socratic Methods empower the lives of teachers and students, enabling mastery learning instead of short-term memory performance? This action research project illustrates the journey of applying Socratic Methods in the high school physics classroom: Where the seeds of America’s future, are waiting to germinate, from the ripened fruit of their education.

Chris McNabb
The Effect of Schoolyard Ecological Field Studies on Teaching and Learning

This research evaluated the effect of schoolyard ecological field studies in an existing environmental science curriculum. Data determined what kind of impact the field studies had on the teacher, the curriculum, and the students. Evidence included teacher journal, student survey, student interviews, videotapes, and the comparison of lesson plans and assignments from different semesters. Results showed that ecological field studies had a positive effect on the teacher and students. Positive outcomes included: more efficient use of class time, better teacher organization, a stronger curriculum, and an enjoyable and authentic learning experience for both students and teacher.

Jomae Mertz
Using Personality Type to Modify Instruction

Differences in personality preferences can cause friction between the teacher and students if they are not addressed. In this action research study personality preferences and learning style were addressed through the use of concept maps in instruction and communication style between teacher and students. Concept mapping was chosen as a method to address the lack of intuition and emphasis on sensing used by the teacher in prior instruction. The use of concept maps helped define relationships in the content, allowing students to look at the big picture, and facilitated alternate forms for expression. Creating more personal relationships within the class through specific verbal interventions was chosen to increase the feeling aspect of personality preferences, a necessary trait that the teacher determined was necessary to build a leaning atmosphere where students feel appreciated for their work.

Eric Miller
Integrating Conceptual Change with the Teaching of Moon Phases and Seasons

This project documented whether teaching moon phases and seasons enabled students to replace misconceptions with scientific understanding. The initial step identified student misconceptions. Once students committed to initial explanations, they completed guided inquiry activities in small groups to test the validity of their initial understanding versus the results of their investigation. If the students discovered inadequacies in their explanation, they adapted the scientific model to conceptualize these phenomena. Upon completion of the Moon phases and seasons units, the students were given post tests and exit interviews. Results showed promotion of conceptual change through inquiry produced gains in student understanding.

Lelia Mitchell
Can Teacher-monitored Science Notebooks Improve Organization and Confidence in Middle School Students?

This investigation determined if organizational skills could be improved and confidence increased by use of science notebooks with middle school students. Past studies support a link between student organizational skills and critical thinking. A correlation exists between confidence and academic success. In this investigation, students were given the responsibility of keeping class materials organized in a well-maintained notebook. The importance of the notebooks was continually stressed and notebooks were evaluated throughout the year. Confidence surveys were used to determine how the students perceived themselves as learners. The data from this research supported use of teacher-monitored notebooks.

Mark Nevala
Enriching Indoor Science Curriculum and Instruction Through the Use of Ecological Field Studies

Ecological field studies were integrated into a field biology class for one semester. Data was gathered using student surveys and interviews, a validation group, teacher journal, and Oregon statewide science assessment scores. Data was used to determine if ecological field studies met specific Oregon Common Curriculum Goals (CCG) for grade 10 benchmarks; the effects on my preparedness and classroom management; and science knowledge gains. Students spent the equivalent of one month outside, with no major disciplinary problems. More importantly, ecological field studies increased student's knowledge and awareness of the environment and were an effective means of enhancing science classroom instruction.

Kristina Newman
Inspiring Student Motivation by Incorporating Technology to Improve the Educational Quality of Science Videos in the Science Classroom

The focus of this study was to improve the educational quality of science videos by using interactive Smartboard technology to improve the use of videos and to motivate students to become actively engaged in the lesson presented. In this study, students were monitored as they viewed science videos using one of two methods, standard TV/VCR video and Smartboard technology. A comparison was made to ascertain the difference in the amount of student involvement used with each presentation method. Surveys were used to gage the impact of the use of each technology and measured the students’ motivation to learn the material presented. Visual surveys were used to determine the level of active participation in each science video lesson.

Helga Pac
Effect of Field Trips on Enhancing the Teaching of Conservation Education

Conservation education is becoming an important way to understand the natural sciences and how they relate to the complex interactions of social, political and economic issues. This study determined if field trips enhanced effectiveness teaching conservation education and science. Four different lesson plans were conducted in two classrooms: bird ecology, bird identification, natural selection, and water conservation. The study compared the lesson taught in the field to one taught in the classroom. Pre-assessment and post-assessment questionnaires were administered in each experiment to quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate the differences. Data indicated that teaching lessons in the field were more qualitatively successful than in the classroom. However, it was more difficult and complex to ascertain differences quantitatively.

Lori Peterson
Inquiry in the Middle School Classroom: Help or Hindrance?

This project’s purpose was to explore the affect of added inquiry activities to an existing 6th grade science curriculum. Several inquiry projects and inquiry-based assignments were developed for the students. Students, as well as parents, were surveyed to monitor any changes for motivation and interest in science. As the project progressed, it became clear that inquiry did indeed prove to be a help, not a hindrance, for the increase in student motivation and interest in science.

Lander Purvis
Using In-depth Field Science Investigations to Improve Student Attitudes, Interest Level, and Learning in a Natural Science Course

This study investigated attitude, interest, and learning for nine students in a semester study abroad program in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Natural Science students completed attitude and confidence surveys before and after the course augmented with field investigations. Survey results were compared with those of students from previous semesters, who took the course without field investigations. Survey data, student written responses to field investigations, student interviews, and teacher journal were analyzed in order to draw conclusions. It was determined that the inclusion of field studies improved student attitudes and confidence in science.

Chris Putzler
Effects of Incorporating Study Skills into a Science Curriculum

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of incorporating study skills into a science curriculum. Wildlife biology students were taught a variety of note taking, reading, and test preparation skills directly related to wildlife biology. Data collected and analyzed through pre- and post-attitude and motivation surveys, pre- and post-study skills surveys, exam scores, study logs, and personal interviews indicated little change in attitude, motivation, or exam scores. Study habits did not change as well. However, three (19%) students attributed improved success to the study skills learned. Additionally, several students reported utilizing skills learned in other curricular areas.

Margaret Rossignol
The Effect of Formative Assessment on Attitudes, Self-Confidence and Grades of High School Biology Students

The effects of formative assessment on students' grades, self-confidence, and attitudes towards science were investigated. Treatment consisted of routine formative assessments for biology students done throughout the school year. Self-confidence, attitude, and grade data were collected three times during the year. Six students were interviewed at various times concerning their feelings about the use of formative assessments. Student interview data and informal teacher observations support the notion that formative assessments are helpful to students in biology.

Matthew Rubin
Science and Literacy: Examining the Use of Reading Strategies in Eighth Grade Science

In this project, four reading strategies were implemented in an eighth grade science classroom. The teacher-researcher studied student attitudes toward the strategies, and monitored test scores and rate of homework completion to determine the effectiveness of the strategies. It was concluded that vocabulary squares and Cornell Notes had a positive impact on student learning. The QAR questioning system was determined to have no impact on student learning. The SQ3R method for chapter study was found to be in need of modification in order to be effective, and the presentation discusses possible modifications.

Katie Saylor
On My Way to Knowing: A Naturalist's Journey

Self-confidence and background knowledge are key ingredients for professional success. This study explored my journey of changing professions from teacher to naturalist. Clearly defining the profession of naturalist and incorporating lifestyle changes led me toward greater confidence in my new position. Spending observational "naturalist" time outdoors inspired curiosity, motivated learning, and informed practice. Peer feedback, time spent out-of-doors, journaling, and additional training were found to enhance professional confidence, knowledge, and self-perception. Audience members may be tempted to head outside directly after to more closely observe and discover their own natural world.

Tonya Shepherd
Implementing Conceptual Development in First Year Physics

Conceptual topics were integrated into first year physics. A teacher-centered classroom was transformed into a student centered, small group oriented classroom. Discussion and graph interpretation questions were emphasized in addition to the traditional mathematical treatment of physics. Although it took time for the students to adapt to this approach, they agreed that even though they didn’t always enjoy it, it helped them to develop an understanding of the material presented. Students’ FCI scores showed that their understanding improved from the beginning to the end of the semester during which conceptual methods were instituted. Although these methods required a significant increase in prep time, the teacher’s attitude remained positive in the classroom, and in the end the increased investment of time was worth the results.

Chris Spera
900 Minutes: A Study in Efficient Use of Time in the Classroom

If only 5 minutes of each class period is given up for packing up books or some other meaningless task, 900 minutes over the course of a typical 180-day school year is lost. That amounts to three full weeks of instructional time. This project started with a concern over lost time and grew into a study in individual learning. Using time wisely in the classroom leads to more meaningful experiences for both teacher and students.

Susan Steckel
Improving Instruction in Physics through the Use of Microcomputer-Based Laboratories

This study investigated how the teaching and learning in a high school physics class were affected by the implementation of microcomputer-based laboratory experiments. Data for the study were collected through videotape, student surveys and interviews, and teacher records. As the teacher and students gained knowledge in the operation of the equipment and software, the teacher was able to shift the focus of the activities toward conceptual understanding.

Zachary Stroker
Teaching the Value of Errors: Using Error Correction as a Means to Better Understand the Student Perspective and Promote Metacognitive Activities in High School Chemistry

The purpose of this study was to change the way evaluations were used, both in the method of preparation of students and in the way students used exam results. A classroom environment was created in which students were made to feel that they were the owners of, and therefore responsible for, their own learning. In order for that learning to continue after the exams had been taken the teacher and the students had to change their view of the purpose of the exam. Instead of serving merely as a grading opportunity, exams became learning tools.

Rebecca Sundin
Formative Assessment in a Summative Assessed Mathematics Classroom

This study implemented formative assessments in a college elementary algebra class. New assessment techniques and performance assessments included surveys on math and test anxiety. Performance assessments had questions on class content, answered in-class, without assistance, but with immediate feedback. Class time was used more effectively and students reported feeling more prepared for summative assessments. Additionally, there was a measured decrease in student math anxiety.

Christine Sundly
Incorporating Rubrics into Biology Curricula to Improve Performance Assessment

This study determined if incorporating rubrics into inquiry based laboratory experiments would increase student scores on a district performance assessment.
The students and teacher used a single rubric to write formal lab reports for five laboratory experiments. This presentation will address the questions: Can rubrics be effectively incorporated into the biology curriculum? Are rubrics an effective tool for increasing students' ability to write formal lab reports? How do rubrics affect teaching of inquiry labs?

Brian Swarthout
An Interferometer Based Fluorometer

This study interfaced a broadband light source, a monochromator, and an interferometer to perform total excitation-emission experiments on dye mixtures. Findings showed that use of an interferometer in a fluorometer is an attractive alternate to the use of two monochromators. The system characterized the absorption and emission for a proteomic dye developed at Montana State University. After collection of the initial data set, data was normalized for difference in wavelength intensity of the excitation source, system optics and detector response.

Harold Taylor
Utilizing Internet Resources to Assist in the Implementation of Science by Inquiry

Research indicates that directed inquiry science is an effective method to help students gain a better understanding of science concepts. A survey indicated that ninth grade physical science students were interested in the Internet, but lacked interest in science. Web-integrated Inquiry Science Environment (WISE) is an Internet tool designed to conduct directed inquiry science. This study evaluated the effectiveness of WISE to lead students to an understanding of science concepts, to stimulate students’ interest in science, and as a tool for facilitating science by inquiry. Utilizing this tool encouraged students to become more responsible for learning.

Neysa Thiele
Using Inquiry-based Teaching and Open-ended Questioning to Develop as a Teacher by Promoting Better Learning and Student Achievement

The purpose of this study was to discover how I could make labs more useful to the students to promote better learning and student achievement. In this action research project, I changed the design of the science labs to cause the students to discover the problem and develop their own conclusions. I developed inquiry-based labs using a forensic science unit, in which the students used their own knowledge and procedures to test and compare the evidence. The data indicate that I found ways to relate inquiry-based labs to the “real world.”

Erin Trame
Does Increasing Teacher Solicitation Methods Increase the Frequency of Student Generated Questions?

I was frustrated by students who did not understand the material, yet did not ask questions. This study determined if the number of student-generated questions increased after implementing multiple methods for soliciting questions. Four different solicitation methods were used with two high school biology classes during three units spanning seven weeks. Results indicated that an instructor is more successful in reaching all students when utilizing more than one method. Some students asked more questions, and those that asked more questions tended to score higher on summative assessments.

Josh Underwood
Gender, Knowledge and Attitudes in the 8th Grade Science Classroom

The purpose of this project was to determine if an increased knowledge of female accomplishments in science would affect the students' attitudes towards science. The students were given a test and survey prior to project. They completed a research project covering female scientists and their accomplishments. The students repeated the test and survey immediately following the completion of the project as well as three months after the project. The data was separated based on gender. Both male and female students benefited from the information discovered through the research.

Travis Vandenburgh
Changing Student Confidence in Science Process Skills and Communicating Scientific Reasoning Through the Use of Inquiry

This project was conducted to determine the implications for inquiry as a form of laboratory instruction in changing student confidence in their science process skills. Traditional lab-experiences were compared to inquiry-based lab experiences in a 6th grade physical science classroom during a unit on mechanics. By presenting students with inquiry learning experiences my hope was to increase self-confidence in science process skills such as identifying variables or forming a hypothesis, but also in communicating understanding of laboratory experiences through written and oral methods.

Jennifer Werda
An Action Research Project on Problem Based Learning and Student Motivation

This is an action research project in which I changed my teaching style to incorporate problem based learning. The students in a high school geological systems elective course were given two problems using the PBL structure. The first was on river dynamics and the second on volcanoes. The data was collected and analyzed to see how my level of organization changed as well as my energy and motivation levels. Also, to see if I was communicating the learning objectives clearly and if the students were finding meaning in the learning objectives and therefore more motivated to engage in class.

LeAnne Yenny
Meaningful Assessment and Grading For Learning in Science

Assessment and grading, while often interconnected are not always utilized together as effective and meaningful tools for learning. This project looked at the effectiveness of an alternative system of assessing and grading in 7th grade life science. The teacher identified learning goals for several science units that tied to both assessments and instruction. These learning goals themselves were then used as a tool for the alternative system of grading, using a 4 – point scale. The study indicated that this alternative system of assessing and grading has various benefits for both teachers and students.