Montana State University
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Intercollege Programs for Science Education

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

Tel: (406) 994-5679
Fax: (406) 994-5575
Location: 401 Linfield Hall


Dr. Peggy Taylor

2009 Capstone Project Abstracts

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Phillip Ammann
Effectiveness of Integrating Student Research into a High School Chemistry Classroom

Thirty five students from an advanced chemistry class designed and completed extensive research projects. Assessments were given to analyze the effectiveness of these projects on student understanding of research and their motivation for
chemistry. Data was collected using pre and post tests, online blogs, lab notebooks, interviews, photographs, and observation journals. The results indicated that student knowledge of the research process improved, as well as their motivation.

Jenni Vee Andersen
Testing Strategies for Reducing Test Anxiety in an Introductory College Chemistry Course

Test anxiety, which is a pervasive problem found in college students of all achievement and ability levels, has been shown to interfere with student learning and performance on tests.  This research project studied how implementing various testing strategies impacted students' testing experience and anxiety levels in a college introductory general chemistry class. Four testing strategies, collaborative testing, cheat sheets, training sessions, and reciprocal peer tutoring were studied. 

Jenny Derks-Andersen

The purpose of this project was to assist students in learning biology content by providing them with clear objectives and requiring them to complete self-assessments with the aid of a self-assessment rubric.  In preparation for the self-assessment component, students completed daily prompts related to the day's objectives.  They also completed a learning styles survey so they could gain a better sense of their strongest learning styles.  The survey results indicated that students found the use of self-assessment to be helpful in learning the class material. 

John Bell
Evaluating the Impact of the Science-In Residence Program (SIRP) in the 1st Grade Classroom

The SIRP program is a specialized science program provided by the Montana Outdoor Science School (MOSS).  1st grade students are engaged in weekly science programs that involve place-based and inquiry-based education.  This study evaluated the attitudes of students and teachers towards the SIRP program and allowed for the tracking of student academic progress. 

Callan Bentley
Touring and Exploring: the role of field trips in geology education

Evidence suggests that field trips to rock outcrops play a fundamental role in facilitating understanding of geological concepts. An introductory Physical Geology field trip was examined over four semesters to reveal the most effective ratio of professor-led touring versus student-centered exploring. The role of pre-trip frontloading activities and post-trip assessments and evaluations were also investigated. The efficacy of field trips utilizing a blend of all these elements is clearly demonstrated. 

Carolyn Clark Bielser
Cosmic Oranges and Alien Peanuts: Using Science Dialogue Journals to Improve Science Inquiry Skills

Students enter our program with low basic language and math skill levels. Few have completed a High School level Science class.  While much of my science curriculum has to focus on basic reading and math skills, I still want my students to gain an understanding of basic science inquiry skills. This project examined how implementing science dialogue journals  improved student understanding of science inquiry skills such as making observations, posing questions and forming hypotheses.  

Terry Carlsen
Reading Contemporary Science Literature to Improve Science Literacy

Reading science texts, especially textbooks, can be difficult and overwhelming for students. This project looks at the use of alternative science texts from contemporary sources and various reading strategies to supplement instruction in the science classroom. Results show a correlation of improved student assessment performance and better attitudes in class when using science literature from a variety of sources. As a result, students gained greater literacy in science. 

Aimee J. Chlebnik
Channeling Energy: Integrating Power Teaching Techniques into an After School Science Program

To improve motivation and learning of science concepts by 5 to 12 year-old students in my dynamic after school one-classroom setting, I integrated power teaching techniques with my regular teaching strategies to direct unruly energy in a positive and prescribed fashion. The results suggest that power teaching is useful in combination with other techniques. I discovered the value of power teaching, careful planning, and my own ability to adapt.
Shelley Chrismon

The Effect of Frequent Assessment on Student Success on Basic Concepts in High School Chemistry I

Students often lack basic math and problem-solving skills necessary to be successful in chemistry. Remediation and lack of effort on homework prohibits teaching chemistry concepts in a timely manner. This study investigates the effect of frequent assessment on student achievement. Results indicate that frequent assessments are effective in some areas. 

Christopher M. Cimino
Increasing Student Participation and Success Using a Biology Blog

Many students find active participation to be increasingly difficult. Research indicates that some students feel intimidated or lack the confidence to openly participate in class. My research suggests the use of a weblog as an instructional tool encourages students to become part of a team of learners that offer support to one another throughout the learning process. Weblogs are inquiry based learning tools that can instill confidence and enable more thorough knowledge through increased active participation from all learners. 

Brett Damerow
Effect of Questioning Strategies on Understanding and Long-Term Memory of Biology Concepts

This project compared the effects of using customized questioning strategies with traditional questioning approaches on learning. The customized questioning strategies included student-generated questions at progressive levels of thought in the form of a Jeopardy game and guided-inquiry discussions that helped students to construct knowledge. Initial results suggest well-planned questioning strategies that utilized scaffolded questions increased student interest as well as long-term memory of concepts. 

Natalie L. Davis
Deepening Students Understanding of Chemistry Through Real World Applications
This study explored how classroom projects can be used to relate chemistry to my students’ everyday lives. Students taught classroom demonstrations, researched a local superfund site, and studied the chemicals in their food in an attempt to relate chemistry to their lives.  Analysis of pre and post surveys, interviews, and student reflections have indicated a positive affect on students’ attitudes, motivation and general understanding of chemistry.

Meg DeAntoni
Intelligence Profile, Interest, Self-Confidence and Achievement in the Science Classroom: Is There a Connection?
The main goal of this project was to explore the relationship between intelligence profile (based upon Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory), interest, self-confidence, and achievement in a middle school physical science class.  Furthermore, sub-questions addressed gender differences within each component independent of achievement.  Findings indicate that there is not a strong correlation among the three learning attributes and performance; however, some important gender differences were revealed. 

Thelma Sarabia Britos Devlin

Using Web Tools to Improve Student Communication in Science

With the growing popularity of internet social networks, this research looked at the use of web tools to enhance learning for middle school students. Internet blogging and podcasting were used to assist the students in improving their inquiry skills while completing their Science Fair project. Data analysis was based on student surveys, formal interviews, and students’ science project score. Most of the students found their communication skills and understanding of others had improved. 

Lillian Edmon
Differentiating Inquiry In The Science Classroom

This project examined various differentiation tools combined with inquiry teaching methods to enhance students’ understandings and engagement in their science classes.  I examined student engagement and understandings through three different inquiry units: Dry Ice Lab Experiments, Jackson Chameleon Investigations, and Mentos Explosion Labs.  Results indicate that students understand the scientific method more concretely through inquiry education.  Using varying degrees of inquiry teaching, from guided to open, all learners successfully completed the inquiry units in this study. One student commented, “The coolest thing about this year was that we learned how to become scientists.  I liked creating my own labs to test the things I was interested in.” 

Richard Fillerup
How to Best Implement “Tutorials in Introductory Physics” in a General High School Physics Course

Tutorials in Introductory Physics is an inquiry-based curriculum that is designed for entry-level college non-major physics students. The focus of this research examined if the tutorials could be implemented effectively in a self-selected high school course. I focused on the mechanics portion of the text and used a standardized test, probes, and other assessments to determine the answer. With care and preparation the Tutorials turned out to be very effective and increased the sophistication of the students' conceptual understanding. 

Thom Flinders
The Effects of Using Inquiry-Base Homework Assignments for Learning Biology

Homework can increase student learning, but not all types of homework are successful with particular students.  The purpose of my project was to compare inquiry-based assignments to more traditional assignments with respect to long-term memory of concepts and student attitudes.  The results suggest that students increased their long-term memory of concepts and were more engaged in their learning.

Elizabeth Fracchia
Gender and Inquiry: The Creation of a Rigorous, Supportive Science Classroom

Differentiated instruction is implemented with ease in single-sex, inquiry-based middle school science classrooms as instruction canaddress individual needs.  Single sex classrooms create environments void of many of the distractions created by co-educational classrooms but are not equally favored by both sexes. Both investigative, student directed, inquiry-based labs and traditional, didactic labs should be a part of middle school science curriculums in order to effectively encourage creativityand allow for differentiation.

Doug Frost
Does the use of Concrete Object Instruction increase Comprehension in Science?

The objective of this study was to determine if the use of Concrete Object Instruction would increase student comprehension. Classroom assessment techniques were used to evaluate student comprehension when compared between concrete object and direct lecture instruction, and these assessment techniques served as instructional guides and gauges of comprehension after instruction in order to determine previous knowledge.  Results established that comprehension was related to previous instruction, attendance, and family attitudes. 

Stacie Fry
How does Teaching Students to Critically Read and Respond to Questions in Science Class affect Student Learning and Metacognition?
This study evaluated the effects of teaching students a strategy for reading and responding to questions in science. A variety of data collection tools were gathered during the treatment to measure student learning, metacognition and the impact of the research on my teaching.  The results of the study confirmed that teaching students a strategy for reading and responding to questions increased student learning and metacognition, as well improved my teaching. 
Victoria R. Ginsburg
The Effect of Science Fair Participation on the Attitudes of Middle School Students

The amount of classroom time devoted to the science fair naturally begs the question: what is the value of participating in the science fair? This research project investigated the effect of science fair participation on middle school students' attitudes towards science, as well as their knowledge of the nature of science. Further, the data collected was used to examine the differences in attitudes towards science between genders. The result of this study indicated that the science fair was of most value to honors students and of some value to most students. 

Rob Greenberg
Engaging High School Students Through Scientific Research Within the Community

A new initiative in North Carolina requires high school students to complete an authentic research project as a graduation requirement.  This study examined several areas of concern, including long term student interest and focus, and a student's sense of the importance of his/her research.  The results indicate that when structure, guidance and support are provided by a "team" that includes a project coach, parent(s) or guardian(s) and an involved teacher, the student researcher will become engaged in a more meaningful learning experience. 

Patti Jelinek

Effects of Inquiry in a Chemistry Class on Cognitive Habits of Mind
High school chemistry students were asked to reflect on three habits of mind during traditional and inquiry-based labs: group interdependence, metacognition, and their persistence to the task. Audio-video data was collected to determine the difference in teacher-student interaction between the two laboratory methods. By all data indicators, inquiry-based laboratories improved students’ cognitive habits of mind and teacher-student interaction. 

Suzanna Johnson
Building Bridges to Understanding Expository Text: Does the Reading Apprenticeship Framework Approach Help Students Learn How to Effectively Read and Comprehend The Science Textbook?
Students are taught how to read, but are rarely taught strategies to use when reading difficult expository text.  The Reading Apprenticeship Framework, developed by WestEd and recently adopted by my school district, is an approach to developing a supportive environment for teaching students to read and make sense of expository text.  My project investigates the effectiveness of the Reading Apprenticeship Framework when implemented in a high school science classroom.  During the treatment period, my classroom became a collaborative environment where students were supported by both their peers and me when using various strategies to understand content from the science textbook. The results indicate that students' confidence, attitudes and reading comprehension levels improved as measured by content assessments, surveys, interview questions, and teacher journal entries. 

Carlie J. Jonas
Teaching Evolution:  An Indirect, Inquiry-based Instructional Method

Evolution is a central theory of biology and yet is often misunderstood by the public.  Many students have prior ideas about evolution, which can be a barrier to new learning.  What are the best instructional methods for helping students understand evolution?  This capstone project explored an indirect instructional approach that builds conceptual knowledge through inquiry-based investigations before the term evolution is ever mentioned or defined. 

Michael E. Joyce III                           
Using Powerpoint to improve student attentiveness in the science classroom
Brief project description

Today’s students are very technologically savvy and utilize numerous types of technology to communicate with friends, family and their teachers. This familiarity with information being transmitted via electronic media lead me to hypothesize that students would be more attentive when information was presented in a manner that they found more appealing than using traditional methods. Through direct observation, student behaviors were recorded over the course of several weeks to determine if there was a significant increase in attentiveness when Powerpoint was used instead of traditional notes from the board. The results of these observations indicated a clear difference in student attentiveness between presentation styles. 

Leslie C. Karpiak
Co-op Chemistry: Incorporating Cooperative Learning in the Chemistry Classroom

Cooperative learning is strongly encouraged, but does it have an impact on academic gains, social gains or both?  This project focused on the impact of cooperative learning on student achievement, students’ perception of the cooperative learning methods, and the effect on the teacher’s classroom experience. Data from a sophomore introductory curriculum were collected using forced choice assessment, surveys, classroom assessment techniques and teacher journaling.  Results indicate that overall cooperative learning has a positive impact. 

Daniel Kinsey
Online Discussion Forums:  Do They Enhance Student Learning in Science?

This project looked at the addition of online discussion forums in the traditional classroom in several science courses at a two year Tribal College.  Surveys, student interviews, assessment rubrics, and classroom observations were used to assess student preconceptions and post conceptions of participating in online discussion forums.  Prior to the implementation of the online discussion forums, a majority of the student responses indicated that they preferred verbal classroom discussions over online discussion forums.  Student participation in the online discussions improved as the semester progressed. 

Ron Koczaja
Effects of Peer Tutoring on Maximizing Learning of Eighth Grade Mathematics

This study compares the effects of ability grouping, in which high-achieving students progress independently at an accelerated rate, to the use of peer tutoring where high-achieving students who have already attained mastery tutor low-achieving students who are struggling with prealgebra concepts. The results suggest that peer tutoring is beneficial to both the student tutors and the students being tutored with improved learning and better student attitudes, although the high-achieving students may have benefited more from ability grouping. 

Lucy C. Karwoski Korpi
How Direct Instruction in Phonemic Awareness Can Increase Fluency and Influence Reading Comprehension in Science Content Area Reading
Many students do not possess the skills necessary to decode words and extract the meaning that is necessary to fully comprehend what they need to learn for success in school. The treatment in this study focused on at-risk high school students practicing skills in phonemic awareness, fluency practice and comprehension. Although the results were mixed, there seems to be a relationship between practice and increasing skills. Collaboration with other professionals was an added benefit that resulted from this study. 

Anton Kortenkamp

Effects of Immediate Assessment Feedback on Students’ Understanding and Long-Term Memory of Astronomy Concepts

This project compared the effects of immediate and delayed assessment feedback by measuring student performance on pre, post, and delayed assessments of astronomy concepts, as well as comparing the results of student interviews including assessment questions and surveys. The data suggest that students who receive immediate feedback have an increase in learning and long-term memory.  Student and teacher attitudes and motivations toward immediate feedback showed mixed results. 

Thomas Matthew Kozikowski
Effectively Encouraging High School Environmental Science Students to Engage in Sustained Voluntary Personal Conservation Habits: Evaluating Traditional Methods and “The Home Action Challenge”

This research project examined the tendencies of high-school environmental science students to engage in voluntary personal conservation actions at home.  The effectiveness of traditional methods and “Home Action Challenges” in encouraging such action was evaluated.  The number of conservation actions that students engaged in was monitored periodically through in-class surveys and interviews as well as telephone surveys with parents.  Findings suggest that students only rarely make significant changes in personal habits as a result of traditional classroom methods.  However, required short-term “Home Action Challenges” provide students with the activation energy needed to change personal habits and persist long-term.

Kelly  Kramer 
Learning through Reading: Using Reading Comprehension Skills in a High School Biology Classroom

How can you get students to read and learn from a textbook?  Today’s students need to be able to read and comprehend at high levels.  This study examined the use of reading tools to enhance literacy skills in a biology classroom.  As students used the tools, their attitudes, skills, frequency of reading, and ability to learn from a textbook were measured.  The results of this study indicate that students read more, gained reading skills, became more confident readers, and learned biology when the reading tools were used. 
Karen Kuchar

Determining the Effects on Student Attitudes and Achievement with Increased Parent Contact through the Use of a Listserv in the Biology Classroom

This study focused on the impact of increased teacher communication with parents through the use of a class listserv. Parents were invited to join a listserv that was sent to them at the beginning of each unit and included lesson plans, homework assignments, important dates, and tips to try at home. Additional emails followed as need. The results indicated an increase in student attitudes and student grades. 

Jason Laducer   
Rings That Bind:  A Study of Implementing a Three Ring Binder to Improve 9th Grade Student Science Classroom Skills

This study investigated the effectiveness of organizing 9th grade physical science students class work using a three ring binder to help them succeed in the science classroom.  Students were provided instruction and guidance on how to organize materials throughout the treatment period.  During the treatment students were periodically evaluated on their organizational progress and performance in science classroom.  A 95% passing rate was achieved by 4th and 5th hour physical science students. 

Lon LaGrave
Hands-on Learning for Young Scientists
My research explored the impact on teacher and students from integrating inquiry-based science activities into traditional classroom instruction. Engaging students in active learning is developmentally appropriate for young learners. Training students to become scientists excites imaginations and increases understanding of science concepts. My project’s value lies in how this treatment enriched my teaching and positively impacted both my student’s attitudes toward science and their abilities to master science learning concepts.

Amy L. Manhart
Can Differentiation of Science Homework Coupled with Student Choice  Increase Homework Effectiveness?

Does homework support learning? This capstone studied the impact of differentiating homework assignments for 8th grade Physical Science students. Student choice assignments were differentiated by student ability and interest: critical thinking worksheet (apply), directed reading worksheet (review), take home lab (test), and wikispace entry (create). Choice increased student engagement, enjoyment, and motivation, with no significant impact on completion rates

Scott D. Masarik
Implications Pertaining to the Implementation of a Peer Tutoring Program for Secondary Science Students

This study looked at the formation of a voluntary peer tutoring program for all science students at Southern Door High School.  Advanced Placement science students assumed the role of tutors, and tutoring took place during the students’ study halls.  This capstone examined the effects of tutoring on both the tutees and tutors.  Results show that when students received extra help, they achieved on a higher level. 

Jean Philip Mathot
Using Inquiry-based Lab Activities to Increase Student Interest and Active Participation in Learning Science
Do inquiry-based labs increase student involvement and interest in science? Labs given at the middle school level are often of the cookbook variety. The step-by step format limits students’ involvement in experimenting with their own ideas.  Inquiry-based lab activities increase student interest in doing science and the freedom to explore. Students receiving both lab types preferred inquiry-based labs over cookbook labs. The students found the inquiry-based labs to be more interesting and felt that they were more involved in the experiment. 

Kara Miller
Inquiry Based Learning in a Introductory Molecular and Cell Biology Lab Course

The purpose of this study was to evaluate how inquiry based lab activities would impact students. Would teaching by inquiry increase student knowledge of science concepts, and what impact if any would it have on the development of their skills?  I focused on the level of student participation and how well students worked together.  Although results of this study were mixed as to whether students knowledge of science was enhanced, their ability and willingness to work together was vey positive. 

Rory Newcomb
Strategies to Improve Internal Assessment Scores in IB Experimental Sciences
This study investigated the effectiveness of strategies designed to help students become independent in their experimental practices, but also confident in their abilities to analyze data and communicate their findings.   Results show that the most effective strategies implemented during the treatment period were lab checklists, timely feedback from the teacher, and the five-minute conferences designed to highlight the positive aspects of the lab and a focus for subsequent labs. 

Lacy Noble
How can student concept awareness and self-assessment on homework improve their algebra concept knowledge?
Students often wonder why they need to complete homework.  This project looked at the effectiveness of student self-assessment of homework and linking homework to the learning objectives.  Homework was self-graded each day and students had the opportunity to correct mistakes.  Assessment techniques were utilized for students’ self-assessment and improvement on concept understanding.  Results show that students liked being able to correct their mistakes before receiving a grade on it. 

Loralyn O'Kief
Science is Everywhere! The Effects of Teaching Science Content through Practical Application Lessons

Science is Everywhere..! This action research project focused on the fact that I believe students will be more motivated to learn science content when able to connect science with everyday life. The data showed that when taught science through life applicable lessons, student's attitude toward science increased. Data also revealed an increase in students’ awareness of where science is in the world around them and how it impacts them personally. 

Lua Olsen
The Effects of Differentiating Instruction in Individual and Groupwork Settings in 7th Grade Earth Science
In this investigation differentiation strategies were implemented with the purpose of improving student engagement and learning in both individual and groupwork settings.  Groupwork activities were differentiated according to learner profile, while individual activities were differentiated according to readiness levels.  Though performance on summative assessments did not show marked improvement following the treatment, students demonstrated and expressed more positive attitudes toward both learning settings. 

Beth Peterson
Formative Assessments: A Strategy for Increasing Success in AP Biology

Formative assessments were implemented in an AP Biology class in an effort to increase student learning.  Research showed a relationship between metacognition, higher earned grade percentages and higher summative assessment scores. Focus on metacognition through formative assessments may be key in adapting curriculum to meet the needs of a wider range of students in science classes. 

Leslie Pierce

Exposing Students to Local and Culturally Relevant Scientific Research as a means of Increasing Student Interest in Science

Does exposing high school students in the Alaskan arctic to culturally relevant, local science increase student interest in science and influence student choice of science as a career?  Results of this brief exposure to genetics research conducted on local, subsistence-hunted animals indicate a positive effect on science interest levels. However, no significant effect was observed on students’ choice of science as a career. 

Mike Plautz
The Impacts of Geographic Information System Technology on Middle School Science Students

Geographic Information System (GIS) technology provides students with the opportunity to engage in inquiry learning activities while using authentic data. Attitudes towards science and technology as well as student gains in understanding were investigated when middle grade students used GIS technology to explore data on habitats and tectonic plate boundaries. Results indicate positive changes in learning and in attitudes toward science and technology through the use of this technology in the middle grades. 

Ronald P Ramsey
Place-based Education in a Biology Classroom in Tennessee

Teachers search for authentic ways to incorporate place-based teaching into our everyday classrooms and often have to choose between content and the personalization of subject matter.  Here at St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School we have found that we are able to accomplish both through the use of nature journals and citizen-science projects.  Through these approaches the students develop a sense of place and in turn find a deeper connection to their community.

Julie Kallio Robison

A study to implement effective cooperative group work using inquiry project cycles to improve achievement and attitude in an eighth grade physical science classroom
After eighth grade science, students should have basic inquiry skills and a positive attitude. In my treatment, cooperative learning was used to improve achievement and attitude: heterogeneous groups of four spent eleven weeks completing five project cycles. Students were assessed using surveys, passive observers, interviews, self/peer evaluations, and reflections.  The results show effective cooperative learning was established, general attitude improved, and students of different achievement levels showed academic successes.

Laurie Rugemer

A Study of Beginning Science Teachers and Their Participation in a Content-Based Online Mentoring Program
Research shows that beginning science teachers benefit from science-specific mentoring and induction. E-Mentoring for Student Success (eMSS) is a national mentoring program that provides online mentoring for beginning science and math teachers. This study examined how beginning science teachers use eMSS, and found that both visible participants who post messages online and “invisible” participants who mostly read messages perceive themselves to be learning and growing as teachers in similar ways. 

Todd M. Samson
The Impact of Visually Enhanced Lessons in an Earth Science Curriculum

The purpose of this study is to enhance the learning potential of a classroom through the use of visual technology in 6th grade Earth Science. Using visual technology can promote higher order thinking skills and create a real life connectedness between the students and their planet. This developed connectedness can help students synthesize earth science concepts. My findings resulted in an increase of student conversations about Earth science. 

Bruce Alexander Sinclair

Active Learning and the Action Researcher: How Does the Implementation of Student-Centered Learning Activities Affect Performance and Attitudes in Physical Science Class?

This study investigated the effect of active learning on student understanding and interest in physical science. Teaching methods focused on student-centered learning activities.  Data was collected with pre and post treatment surveys, interviews and a teacher journal, alongside pre and post assessment techniques such as tests and minute papers.  The data showed that student knowledge and interest were positively affected by the incorporation of the active learning strategy. 
Cathy Stierman
Questions with Images: How Does This Combination Influence Student Understanding of Biology?

A picture is worth a thousand words – and so is a single question. This project focused on the effects of a customized set of strategies that integrate an image with a series of four questions developed using the Rigor/Relevance Framework from the International Center for Leadership in Education. The results suggest that students not only enjoyed the content more, but as active participants also increased their level of understanding. 

Steve Sundberg
Effects of Graphic Representations of Concepts and Ideas on Understanding Biology

Significant education research has shown that graphic representations help students comprehend science.  The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of using graphic representations of concepts with teacher feedback to traditional teaching strategies on understanding of terminology and concepts. The results suggest that graphic representations had no effect on understanding, but student engagement and long-term memory of concepts did show signs of improvement. 

Nathan Talafuse
The Impact of a Computer Response System (CRS) in a High School Chemistry Classroom

The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of a computer response system in a high school chemistry classroom.  During the study, students used wireless "clickers" to answer in-class questions daily.  Results for the student responses are then immediately available and classroom discussions may be adapted.  Student participation and motivation increased as they were able to answer questions and receive immediate feedback about their responses.

Lucinda Fisher Talsma

The Effects of Critical-Thinking Activities on Prenursing Students’ Understanding of Anatomy and Physiology Concepts

This project investigated the effects of guided critical-thinking activities using research articles on the development of critical thinking skills and understanding of concepts.  The results suggest that students improved their higher order thinking skills by interpreting meaning from the research evidence to make decisions. Their attitude and motivation to learn difficult concepts also improved, but there was little effect on their understanding and long-term memory of concepts. 

Howard Tenenbaum

The Greening of Chemistry: Building Relevance, Rigor, and Professional Satisfaction into a Chemistry Curriculum

This research found that relating chemical concepts to environmental issues resulted in significant improvements in both teacher satisfaction as well as student  performance and sense of relevance.  This was achieved through the use of a teacher journal, student interviews, a questionnaire, and summative tests.  Through the course of the research students ventured into field settings near the school and learned how chemistry is used to describe changes in their local enivronment. 

Tana Verzuh
Effectiveness of a magnetic-field censored alert system on reducing animal-vehicle collisions

This research was undertaken to understand the effectiveness of a new alert system put in place by the Colorado Department of Transportation in order to reduce the number of animal-vehicle collisions along a particularly dangerous stretch of highway.  The new system measures changes in the earth's magnetic field when an animal is present and subsequently lights up a warning sign for passing vehicles.  It is the first system of its kind to be installed, and until now no research has been done on its effectiveness.  This study looked at the number of animals hit along this stretch of highway after the signs were put in place and compared these numbers to past data collected by the Colorado Department of Transportation's maintenance crews. Research procedures, data analysis, and the results of the study are presented along with a summary of how being a teacher-researcher has impacted classroom pedagogy. 

Patricia J. Weaver
The Effect of Music on Achievement and Retention in Advanced Placement© Biology

Students in Advanced Placement© Biology are expected to learn and retain many facts in a short amount of time.  Does setting these facts to the tunes of popular songs increase student learning and retention of science facts?  If so, does it help all students or only those who possess music as one of their multiple intelligences?  Results indicate that songs increase retention for all students but do not increase initial achievement. 

Gail Whiteman

The Integration of Cultural Relevance and Science Content In Schools On and Near the Crow Reservation

 Improving early education programs is crucial, and research shows that an emphasis on early education is vital. Students who are not from the mainstream culture need teachers who can bridge the learning gap.   My research question was designed to gather baseline information by asking, “In what ways are 3rd-8th grades teachers integrating cultural relevance into their science lessons on and near the Crow Reservation?” 

Erin Wilson
The Effects of Using the 5E Instructional Model to Teach Inquiry-Based Biology Lessons with Limited Class Time

This project investigated effects of using the 5E Instructional Model, which includes five cyclical learning phases: engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate, compared to traditional teaching strategies for 9th grade students. Results suggest that the 5E model provided more useful guided inquiry-based instruction and time for students to understand biological concepts. There was a positive impact on students’ learning, long-term memory, attitudes, and motivation, and my experience as an educator. 

Joe Le Weaver
The Effects of Using Portfolios to Evaluate Learning of Middle School Science

My students have difficulty demonstrating their knowledge on traditional summative assessments.  This study compared the effects of using portfolios with various learning strategies such as concept maps, reflective journaling, and rubrics, to traditional summative assessments. This comparison was done to help gauge differences in students’ learning, long-term memory, attitude, and motivation.  The results suggest that students’ overall understanding, long-term memory of concepts, and attitude and motivation increased when portfolios were utilized. 

Joe Wright
A Study of Science Teachers in Online Courses

With the increase in online courses in the past few years, I was interested in the impact they have on science teachers furthering their education. This study looked at how the students’ own confidence and opinions affected their ability to learn in the online environment.  The results indicate that the impact is minimal at most, and but for many students online is the preferred method of learning. 

Christine West
Effects of Integrating Technology-Based Activities for Understanding Biology

The focus of this study was to compare the effects of integrating selected technology-based strategies, such as online flashcards, Wiki editable student Web pages, and synchronous chat, with traditional strategies, such as paper flashcards, science notebooks, and classroom discussion, on student understanding of biology vocabulary and concepts.  The results suggest that using technology increases students’ understanding of vocabulary and concepts, motivation, and engagement, but not long-term memory. 

Lisa M. Weeks

Improving School Attendance and Interest in Science by Ninth Graders

School Attendance is not only imperative to the success of the individual student, but it also affects the school and society. This project was designed in order to improve attendance and interest in science through more engaging lessons, improved student-teacher-parent relationships, and attendance contracts. Results show that attendance has improved slightly on days of more engaging lessons and after initiation of contracts for targeted students.