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

2011 Capstone Project Abstracts

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Melanie S. Acker

Does Peer Review Improve Lab Report Quality In High School Science Students?

The purpose of this study was to determine if students construct better lab reports while performing peer reviews than when they do not.  While understanding the components that generate a well written lab protocol is essential, students often neglect components such as grammar, spelling, and formatting.  The goal of this study was to advance students’ science writing skills over time through exposure to the repetition of writing, peer reviewing, and re-writing lab reports.

Patti Rae Bartlett

Morrell Creek Riparian Classroom: Introducing Students to Outdoor Education through the Creation, Use and Maintenance of an Outdoor Classroom

Although I teach in a small rural school, my students do not seem to have a strong connection to the land.  This project focused on building an outdoor classroom and using it to compare traditional classroom learning to that in an outdoor/experiential setting.  My hope was to have them develop a connection to it, and raise their level of concern to become good stewards of the land.

Jennifer Moore Bernstein

Concept Mapping and Student Success in a College-Level Environmental Studies Course

Concept mapping is a visually-oriented educational tool used to facilitate student comprehension. This project looked at the effect of employing concept mapping as a reflective and constructive exercise in an environmental analysis course. We found that students who felt more challenged by the mapping exercises received higher course grades. This indicates that for engaged students, concept mapping can engender an optimal level of intellectual discomfort that ultimately fosters deep learning.

Lindsey Paige Bowser          

The Effects of Direct Mathematics Instruction on Attitudes and Success in General Chemistry 

This project involved the development of a multi-part assignment in cooperation with the math department.   Changes in student attitudes about mathematics and chemistry and competencies  in terms of mathematical understanding required for success in chemistry were measured before and after students received instruction in both math and chemistry classes and completed the joint assignment.  The results indicated gains in math and chemistry skills and in confidence.

Brennan Brockbank

From the Dino’s Perspective:  Speculative Fiction in the Science Classroom

This research project sought to address a concern that middle school students do not read enough to develop scientific literacy.  The speculative fiction novel, Raptor Red, was woven into existing life science curriculum and was used to highlight both aspects of literature and of science.  The self-reported interest in science and in reading was measured and compared before and after the treatment.

Deborah Brown

What Did I Learn?  Helping Students Learn Through Inquiry

This study increased the use of inquiry activities in the biology classroom.  Student performance was monitored to see if inquiry would make a positive impact on scores and enjoyment of biology.  Following each activity, students also have to answer “What did you do?  What did you see?  What did you learn?”   The results indicate that while test scores did not necessarily improve, student enjoyment of science and labs increased.

 Nancy Lee Bryant

What’s Up in Your World?  Using a Wiki to Discuss Current Environmental Topics and its Effect on Student Success

This investigation explored the relationship between online discussion of current environmental topics and the students’ integration of environmental knowledge into their daily lives.  Over a two month time period, AP Environmental Science students discussed current events online through a classroom wiki.  Through surveys, reflections, and interviews, students indicated that there was increased incorporation of environmental topics both in their thought processes and during interactions with their peers.

David Buck

Using Specific Questioning Strategies to Promote Better Understanding of Key Scientific Concepts

Middle school students are a curious lot, but their questions can be unfocused, or even unproductive from a scientific standpoint. This action research looks at the effects of teaching students to use the cognitive domain of Bloom's Taxonomy and Cothron's Four-Question Strategy in developing scientific questions. Both measures appeared to improve students’ understanding of key scientific concepts and in helping them focus on valuable scientific questions.

Joel Burgener

Predation on Meadow Voles:  The Effects of Predator Exclusion on Vole Population in a Wet Meadow

This project was designed to investigate the response of vole populations to a treatment that restricted access by medium-sized mammalian predators in a wet meadow habitat at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Lima, Montana. This project included predator monitoring by visual surveys and remote sensing with camera traps.  Research procedures, analysis and results will be presented with a discussion of the implications of the results.

Sandra J. Climenhaga         

The Effects of Using Guided Notes for At Risk High School Science Students

The Take Flight Program in Albion, NY had 20 students who took the Living Environment science class. This study examined the use of a guided note strategy to replace the traditional science notebook for these students. Over the course of three weeks the effectiveness of the guided note packet was measured with quiz scores, concept map preparation, student attitude and final test scores. Results suggested an improvement in attitude and improved test scores.

Sarah Marie Conner

What Impact Do Student-Led Demonstration Versus Teacher-Led Demonstration Have on the Retention Rate of AP Biology Students?

Strategies were implemented with the purpose of improving engagement and learning in the biology classroom.  The investigation included student-led demonstrations versus teacher-led demonstrations and the impact on the retention rate of twelve AP biology students.  A progressive Bloom’s Taxonomy technique was used in accordance with student-led demonstrations.  Engaged students reached higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, became self-sustained critical thinkers, and attained long-term memory recognition, supporting their higher level thinking. 

Joann C. Dayton-Wolf

The Impact of Service Learning on “At Risk” High School Biology Students

Students who may not graduate with their peer cohort are deemed “at risk.” This investigation studies the effect of service learning on attendance, attitude, and achievement of at risk high school biology students. Students participated in two community service learning projects: raising trout for release into local streams and/or implementing a vegetable garden on high school property. The results are inconclusive and indicate a longer term study is warranted.

 Joe DeLuca
The Effect of Science Notebooks on Student Achievement
In this project I introduced science notebooks to grades seven through ten at an international school in Almere, The Netherlands. The purpose was to determine if this form of organization improved student achievement. The notebooks were used as the central resource to collect data, take notes, and ask questions.  Evidence showed that students achieved higher when they used science notebooks than when they did not.

Joyce Dooley
The Effects of Using Literature Circles on Understanding of Middle School Earth Science Concepts
The effects of literature circles on students’ of understanding earth science concepts was investigated using a variety of data collection tools. The data indicated that student collaboration with a diversity of reading activities increased student understanding and long-term memory. Data also showed students’ motivation for using complex comprehension strategies is increased when students are afforded opportunities to share their questions about interesting text, and teacher attitudes and motivation improved as literature circles were used. 

Katherine Echazarreta

What is the Effect of Having a Substitute Teacher in a Science Class or Math Class:  Is it a Productive Class?

In this study I was looking at the effects of substitute teaching in science and math classes.  There several different points of view of substitute teaching; the substitute teacher themselves, the students, the contracted teacher, and the administration.  I looked at the substitutes, the students, and the teachers’ point of view on the effectiveness of substitute teaching. The perception of having a substitute is having a cake day, but that shouldn’t be the case.  I wanted to see if there is an effective way to have the students work as if I were the contracted teacher.

Kendra Eneroth

The Effects of Problem-Solving Case Studies on Understanding High School Biology

The purpose of this project was to study the effects of problem-solving scenarios in biology as a teaching strategy on student understanding of concepts.  Students were exposed to a variety of problem-solving scenario activities including video, written, and hands-on activities that related biology content to real-world applications.  The data showed improvement of student understanding and motivation, especially when a combination of problem-solving case studies included hands-on scenarios activities.

Jonathan R. Ernst

Implementing Frequent Assessments to Increase Student Performance Levels in a High School Chemistry Course

The project’s purpose was to help students understand that successfully completing homework assignments translates into an increase in their overall performance in a high school chemistry course. Frequent assessments were implemented after each homework assignment and progress was monitored and tracked through summative assessments. Results suggest an increase in homework completion and performance levels on summative assessments. Students’ attitudes towards completing their homework and their confidence levels showed minor improvements.

Eric Esby

Edge Effects:  Native and Non-Native Plant Distribution Along Single Use and Multi-Use Trails in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, California 

This project is the culmination of research designed to investigate the potential edge effects of varying recreational usage on two vegetation communities along trails within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in Thousand Oaks, California.  Research procedures, results, and analysis will be presented with a summary of how being a teacher/researcher has impacted teacher professional development. Additionally the involvement of high school students as volunteer research assistants will be discussed.

 Lane A. Fischman

Using Gardner's Multiple Intelligence Theory to Differentiate High School Physics Instruction

The purpose of this project was to examine the effects of differentiated instruction on students’ understanding of high school physics based on Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory.  The original premise was that some students are strong in some intelligences and weak in others.  Each student started by learning the content in the areas they were strong in, and then using that knowledge to help them overcome the more challenging concepts.  The results indicate that this approach has its merits but will need refinement to be implemented into the entire curriculum.

Brandon Fritz

Improving Higher Order Thinking Skills through Blogs and Wiki-based Collaboration

Weekly group discussions online through the use of wikispaces were implemented to see if students’ higher order thinking skills were improved. Weekly blogs posting new discoveries or environmental problems initiated problem solving discussions online through the use of wikispaces. Analyzing students’ conversations revealed that students conversing online has a positive effect on improving students’ development of higher order thinking skills.

Jeremy Fuller

Clickers in the Science Classroom

The purpose of this study was to see if the use of student electronic response systems could help students increase their understanding and retention of the biology curriculum. An electronic student response system, “clickers” as they are also known, was used over the course of a semester. Exam scores, student interviews, and surveys were used to evaluate their effectiveness.  A comparison of exam scores did not show a statistically significant difference. Student and teacher opinions were very positive as a large majority of student respondents said that clickers help to engage them in the learning process.

Sheri Gates

The Effects of Using the Conceptual Change Model to Dispel Scientific Misconceptions in Elementary Children

The purpose of this project was to pre-assess and identify student misconceptions and to provide experimental opportunities for students to explore their ideas.  Students were then able to invalidate or validate their previous ideas based on the data they gathered and the observations they made in these experiments.  The results of the study indicate that the Conceptual Change Model is an effective strategy for helping students to develop a conceptual schema that dispels student misconceptions.

Ashley Gillespie

The Effects of Using Classroom Performance Systems with Metacognitive and Conceptual Feedback Strategies on Students’ Understanding of Eighth Grade Physical Science Concepts

This study investigated the effects of a classroom performance system with metacognitve and conceptual feedback strategies on students’ understanding of concepts.  Data collection tools were used to isolate long-term memory and varying levels of cognitive questioning, as well as student attitudes and motivation.  The data indicate slight improvement in understanding, student attitudes, and higher-levels of cognitive questions following the treatment, but long-term memory and student and teacher motivation showed mixed results. 

Tanya Gordon

Assessing and Improving Middle School Teaming from a Science Teacher’s Perspective

The focus of this project was to advance the teaming concept at my school by examining both the successes and challenges experienced and to propose methods for improvement influenced by research based strategies. Nine teachers who teach various subjects in grades 7-9 participated in a teaming training workshop and learned new skills to implement throughout the school year. Their experiences, opinions and suggestions for future improvements are documented within this project.

 Amy M. Gramling

The Effect of Two Intervention Strategies on Science Homework Completion

The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of two intervention strategies on homework completion.  In the first intervention strategy, students were required to keep an academic planner that recorded assignments and due dates.  The second intervention strategy was to provide students with a weekly reminder of missing work.  Surveys and interviews, along with collected homework completion data were used to determine the effectiveness of the implemented strategies.

Heather M. Grant

The Student Experience in Traditional and Inquiry-Based Chemistry Labs

This project introduced two inquiry-based labs to an existing sequence of traditional labs in a sophomore chemistry class.  The student experience in both types of lab instruction was examined through surveys, interviews, misconception probes, pre- and post-lab content quizzes, and student-teacher communication logs.  It was found that both types of lab instruction had strengths and potential weakness, which indicate areas that require particular attention when using each instructional method.

Shannon L. Greco

The Impact of Scientists’ and Engineers’ Involvement in a One-Day Program for Middle School Students at Princeton University

More than 450 middle school students participated in Making Stuff at Princeton, two one-day materials science programs conducted by the Princeton Center for Complex Materials.  Scientists and engineers interacted with middle school students through activity tables, auditorium shows and lab tours.  This mixed method evaluation of the program showed that one-day of direct interaction with research scientists and engineers has a positive impact on students’ attitudes towards science and scientists. 

Christopher Green

The Effects of Formative Assessments on Performance and Attitudes of Ninth-Grade Science Students

The importance of formative assessments has been in the forefront of current pedagogy.  In this study, ninth-grade urban science classes were taught using clear “I can statements”, given meaningful feedback on their assignments, and provided with multiple attempts to successfully reach the learning goals.  While the overall performance of students showed marginal improvement, the data indicates that their attitudes towards science and learning seemed to become more positive.
Christopher Gunderson

Mastery of Problem Solving Strategy for Improving High School Chemistry Student Achievement

This investigation determined the correlation between problem-solving strategies and student achievement.  Problem solving is an important part of real-world application and many students have not acquired the essential skills to work through complex problems that they may encounter everywhere.  Student interviews, teacher and student surveys, prelab and postlab assessments, and journal writings were analyzed to determine an improvement of student understanding through the implementation of the DRUFAS problem-solving strategy.  Although there was a slight decrease in overall student achievement, the investigator was able to add more challenging material to the curriculum.

Hadley Hentschel

The Effects of Shared Common Experiences on Learning in the English Language Learner Science Classroom

In this investigation, background knowledge was created in struggling English language learners through shared common experiences outside of the classroom. Students were taken on a camping trip and biweekly trips to local rivers in order to give them hands-on experiences in which they could use while learning physical science content. These experiences proved to increase the breadth of student
knowledge, but had little effect on the depth of student knowledge.

 Susanne L. Hokkanen

Improving Student Achievement, Interest and Confidence in Science through the Implementation of the 5E Learning Cycle in the Middle Grades

For this project, I used the 5E model to improve student academic achievement and self-expressed interest and confidence in science.   Data was collected from pre and post tests and student surveys to determine growth in student academics and attitudes towards science. Data was also collected and compared between a traditional science classroom and a 5E model classroom.  Data demonstrated a modest success in the use of the 5E model in teaching.

Daryl Allan Holst

Inquiring into Measurement Error in the Science Laboratory

High school students often struggle with accurate data collection in the science laboratory. This study examined the effects of inquiry-based laboratory learning experiences on student ability to recognize the limited precision of measurements, ability to see error, manipulative ability in using laboratory instruments and commitment to accuracy.  Results indicate increased student ability to see and correct error as well as improved understanding of error.

Megan Hopkins

Comparing the Effects of Traditional Learning (Lecture) vs. Independent Online Learning on Student Understanding in Weather and Geology

This study examined the effects of lecture compared to individual online learning on student understanding in an upperclassman Weather and Geology class.  Students experienced alternating units of lecture and online learning followed by three units in which they chose which method of note-taking they preferred.  Results suggest that factors such as gender, academic ability, and ability to focus must be considered when determining the effect each method had on student understanding. 

Jasper Howell

The Effects of Using Lab Report Blogs to Improve the Laboratory Experience in High School Chemistry Class

The use of internet technology can be used in the science classroom much like it is used in other areas of educations.  In this study students use web blogs to publish and share results, observations, and opinions based on laboratory experiments.   This study looked at the effectiveness of just such a strategy in a high school chemistry classroom, to improve various areas of learning and science skills.

Cheryl A. Hudson

Impact of Biotechnology Labs on High School Biology Students
There is a movement to implement biotechnology lab experiences in secondary biology classes The purpose of this project was to assess the effect of implementing biotechnology labs on students’ understanding of molecular biology concepts and on students’ attitude toward science in terms of interest, confidence, and perceived relevance. Results for improved attitude were inconclusive; however gains in conceptual understanding were substantial with the biotechnology labs.

An'juli Johnston  

Implementing an After School Intervention Program at Castle Rock Middle School in Seventh Grade Science and Other Core Classes

The study implemented an after school intervention program for students who struggled to complete the daily work assigned in core classes including science. Results suggest students were more organized and were always aware of what assignments they needed to complete each week.  A specific group of students who had struggled throughout the year showed moderate growth in overall grade point averages, organization, and time on task in the classroom.

 Darren Kellerby   

Effective Use of Humor in a Secondary Science Classroom

Students and administrators have often commented positively about my ability to bring humor into the classroom, but I had never made a direct correlation between this humor and student achievement.  The purpose of this study was to try and make that connection by using humorous warm-up activities, assignments, and lectures during two astronomy lessons.  Initial results showed improvements in student participation and recall, but over time, the improvements due to humor decreased.

Marty King

The Effects of Using Interactive Lessons on Students’ Understanding of Anatomy

This project examines the integration of various interactive and visual activities to a traditional lecture-based high school anatomy class. The supplements included podcasts, multiple pictures, and short videos imbedded in the PowerPoint lectures, games used with iTouches, Webquests on the computer, and full length videos. The data indicate mixed results as to long-term retention of concepts but there was a more comfortable learning environment regarding the students’ and the instructor’s attitudes. There was an increase in the students' understanding of concepts between the treatment and nontreatment units.

Shannon Knodel  
The Effectiveness of a Classroom Response System as a Method of Formative Assessment in a Middle School Science Classroom
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a Classroom Response System (CRS) in determining student understanding about particular science concepts.  Correct and incorrect responses were discussed after each question so misconceptions could be cleared up immediately. Survey and interview results indicated the CRS was the preferred method of formative assessment, but post-test scores did not show a significant improvement.

JoDe Knutson-Person

Increasing Science Awareness of Elementary Students Through a Service Learning Outreach Project Using College Students

Two-year college students participated in a service learning outreach project with two classes at a local elementary school with a high underrepresented population. The project was designed to increase the content knowledge of all the students involved, empower the elementary students, and fulfill some needs of the college awareness program within the elementary school. Analysis was completed
using results from questionnaires and journals.

Karen L. Lund

Utilizing a Comprehensive Webpage to Improve Science Classroom Performance

The purpose of this study was to improve student classroom performance through the use of a detailed chemistry webpage.  Students utilized a monthly assignment calendar with links to all classroom materials.  Links to additional chemistry resources for review and reinforcement were also available to assist both present as well as absent students in their learning.  Results indicate that the treatment increased assessment scores and improved student learning behaviors. 

Kathryn Madden

The Use of Inquiry Based Instruction to Increase Motivation and Academic Success in a High School Biology Classroom

A variety of inquiry based lessons and non inquiry based lessons were used to motivate and increase academic success with a freshman biology honors students.  Student self surveys, biology journals, and lab skills were indicators of motivation. Scores on standardized tests and other assessments were used to monitor students’ academic success. Trends indicated an increase in student motivation to do science while testing scores were varied.

 Margaret K. Magonigle

The Effects of Using an Inquiry-Approach Through the 5E Lesson Format on Middle School Earth and Space Science Students

In this investigation the 5E inquiry-based instructional approach was implemented with the purpose of improving students’ learning in science, improving students’ ability to understand and apply inquiry, and improving teacher’s instruction.  The results of this 5E Learning Cycle project on eighth grade Earth and Space Science students indicated that learning increased, ability to understand and apply inquiry increased, and that the teacher’s instruction improved. 

Danny Mattern

The Effects of Physics Ranking Tasks On Student Understanding Of Conceptual Physics Concepts

Physics ranking tasks were introduced to see if they could increase students’ conceptual knowledge in general and calculus based physics courses. Ranking tasks help students think in terms of physics concepts rather than rely on mathematical equations to solve problems. Assessments were given both pre/post in order to calculate the percent gain.  Analysis of the percent gain showed remarkable increase in the conceptual concepts due to the ranking tasks.

Emily McKenna

Student Use of Formative Assessments and Progress Charts of Formative Assessments in a Seventh Grade Science Class

In this investigation formative assessments and a progress chart of formative assessments were implemented with the purpose of improving student engagement and learning. Formative assessments were taken the day after material was presented. Student progress was self-monitored by using the progress charts. Student scores on summative assessments improved by 3% and students were overwhelmingly positive about using the formative assessments and the progress charts to monitor their learning.

Christian R. Mills

Online & Virtual Education:  Its Effectiveness and Impact on Secondary Mathematics & Science Students

This paper describes effects of online instruction on secondary mathematics students.  It was designed to determine if students enrolled in online mathematics courses receive a level of instruction comparable to students in traditional classrooms.  It was determined that students enrolled in online mathematics courses made progress but fell short of that of traditional students.  Hybrid courses may be more effective for accomplishing desired goals for students with exceptional circumstances.

Amiee L. Modic

Student Misconceptions- Identifying and Reformulating What They Bring to the Chemistry Table

Methods of identifying student misconceptions and related treatments were investigated in four PreAP chemistry classes. Misconceptions were identified through existing and teacher created tools, while methods of treatment included laboratory, modeling and animations. An improvement in the understanding of molecular size and conductivity of solutions at a conceptual level was noted, while student understanding of phase changes did not improve as much.

Christopher G. Monsour

The Effects of Literacy Intervention in High School Biology

In this investigation, issues of reading comprehension in high schools students were explored. Reading comprehension interventions such as metacognitive reading logs were administered with the goal of improving student literacy.  Trade books, newspapers, and others types of media were used to differentiate instruction as part of intervention strategies.  The results indicate that when students are given the opportunity to read outside of class, their ability to comprehend scientific information increases.

 Richard Montoya

Collaboration Facilitated Through Technology: Part of a Comprehensive Inquiry-Based Teaching and Learning Strategy

A comparative analysis was conducted between two independent but academically similar science classes to measure academic and motivational effects on student learning as students shifted from face-to-face collaboration to technology-based collaboration. Academically, high level achievers benefited most from technology interventions and low academic performers benefited least. Over time, technology burden caused decreases in student motivation. However, technical challenges resulted in increased problem solving and critical thinking performance for all participants.

Erik Nickerson

Video Games in the Science Classroom 

Can video games make a significant impact in the classroom?  Most educational video games imitate classroom activities (such as answering multiple choice questions or memorizing flash cards) instead of using the computer’s superior simulation capabilities to create a unique learning experience. Would a different type of game be more useful? Students played several different styles of educational video games to evaluate the effect of video games in the classroom.  Each different type of game helped students learn, though the games with more words created a stronger impression that learning actually happened.

Cameron Novak   

The Effects of Using Musical Songs as a Supplement to a Traditional Life Science Curriculum

It seems that many students at all levels of education struggle with retaining taught information in classes.  This study involves the application of musical curriculum based songs in addition to traditional teaching methods.  The results of the study indicated that students exposed to the musical songs did in fact earn higher scores on assessments over the treatment time period.

Aaron Olmanson

How Students Drawing in Their Science Notebooks Affects Their Understanding of Science

In this investigation students’ drawings were implemented with the purpose of gathering information after passive lessons in science. Students drew concepts after chapters on vertebrates and chemistry. The students’ final test scores closely reflected their drawing scores (within 10%). The drawings were found to be a valuable formative assessment, and the students’ attitudes increased 47% in favor of using drawings in science as a way to communicate science knowledge learned.

Bradley Pederson

Different Classes, Different Students? A Comparative Study of Different Chemistry Classes
This study looks at how the students’ experiences influence their outcomes in different chemistry classes.  In Belle Plaine, MN there are two choices of Chemistry offered, traditional verses context-based. Each of these classes provides the student with a different experience in how they learn chemistry. The outcomes can be compared to what the state of Minnesota suggests that all students in Chemistry should know upon completion.

Timothy D. Percoski

The Use of Higher Order Cognitive Strategies to Improve Student Understanding of High School Chemistry Concepts

This study investigated the effects of Higher Order Cognitive Strategies, which utilizes the upper levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, on students’ understanding of high school chemistry concepts, answering higher order questions, maximizing long-term memory, and effects on students’ perceptions of chemistry. The teacher’s attitudes toward the planning and implementation of chemistry units as well as perceptions of teaching chemistry were also investigated.  Data showed mixed results for all areas of the study.

 Janet  E. Perry

Envirothon Teaching Methods- How Do They Impact Learning in the Traditional Biology Classroom?

In the Envirothon, a national environmental contest, teams of students work together outdoors, solving site-based natural resource questions and problems in aquatics, forestry, soils, and wildlife.  In this Action Research Project, I incorporated the same teaching methods commonly used to prepare teams for this competition into my high school Biology course. When used within a traditional classroom setting, Envirothon teaching methods had positive impacts on students’ comprehension of environmental topics. 

Alanna Piccillo

Effects of Making Connections Between Science Concepts and the Outdoors on Student Comprehension

This investigation takes students into the natural world to test higher-level thinking skills. Research was conducted with students in block classes and students in shorter class periods and divided into high, medium, and low-achieving groups. While students in block classes mostly benefited from this instruction over students in shorter classes, data suggests that all students can benefit from this instruction with practice and preparation.

Paul Pierre

Using Rubric-Based Formative Assessments with High School Chemistry Instruction

This study investigated the effects of closing the feedback loop of understanding by utilizing rubric-base formative assessment on students’ understanding of chemistry concepts and motivation in the classroom.  The data from various collection tools indicate no significant improvement in student understanding following the treatment; however, there was an improvement in students’ long-term memory, attitude, and motivation and in the teacher’s attitude and motivation towards teaching.

Erin Quintia

Impacting Environmental Awareness and Personal Environmental Behaviors of High School Biology Students through Action Projects

This research project examined personal environmental behaviors of high school freshman biology students who were exposed to environmental topics in class and participated in environmental action projects.  The effectiveness of classroom lessons and action projects on student’s environmental behaviors was evaluated.  The student’s environmental awareness and voluntary environmental behaviors were monitored throughout the year to determine if any changes occurred.

Mary Seabrook Ritter         
The Effects of Interactive Engagement on Motivation, Participation, and Conceptual Understanding in High School Physics
The purpose of this study was to determine if there was a correlation between student motivation and participation in the understanding of physics concepts.  Participation of students did increase with the introduction of interactive engagement.  Cooperative group work (one type of interactive engagement) did not show any higher increase in learning of the material as compared with lecture format, although students reported experiencing more motivation during interactive engagement.

Seth Robertson

Using the Primacy Effect to Increase Student Achievement in Science

This project focused on two groups of students who were given scientific method instruction at different times during lessons:  The first group received instruction at the beginning of class whereas the second was instructed at other times.  The results of this study show an increase in scores for the first group compared to the second.

 Peter Rust

The Effects of Inquiry Instruction on Problem Solving and Conceptual Knowledge in Ninth Grade Physics Class

This project documents the impact of inquiry instruction on two ninth grade physics classes.  Problem solving skills, conceptual knowledge, and students' reactions to the teaching style were assessed while students studied rotational motion and energy.  The results were mixed: problem solving was not affected by inquiry; however, slight gains in conceptual knowledge were seen.  Students generally preferred the traditional, non inquiry style lessons.

Robin Scardino

The Effects of Using Differentiated Instruction on Understanding Middle School Science Concepts

This study investigated the effects of differentiated instruction on middle school students’ understanding of science concepts.  A variety of data collection tools were used to isolate students’ cognitive level of understanding, the understanding of students of various achievement levels, and teacher attitudes and motivation.  The data indicate minor improvement in students’ basic understanding and understanding at various cognitive levels.  Teacher attitude and motivation yielded mixed results.

Jessica F. Schultz
The Effects of Intergrating Engineering Strategies in the Science Classroom on Critical Thinking Skills Among Students in 7th to 12th Grade
In my investigation I wanted to find out if implementing engineering strategies in my classes would improve critical thinking skills among my students. The grades of my students ranged from the 7th grade to the 12th grade. The results of this investigation showed that there was an increase in student critical thinking and involvement in their learning process.

Ralph E. Spraker, Jr.

How Does “Just-In-Time” Scaffolding of Descriptive and Inferential Statistics within an Existing, Quarter-Long, Group Poster Presentation of Survey Data Impact Undergraduate Statistics Students’ Ability to Apply Their Learning?
Project was based on American Statistical Association’s (ASA) GAISE recommendations on how students learn statistics best. Student-designed survey-to-poster projects provided opportunities to construct knowledge through active involvement, modeled content, technology, and practice. Statistical thinking in open-ended  investigations as groups, consistent feedback on performance from peers and judges helped students learn statistics. Technology helped conceptual understanding as students analyzed their data.

Marcie Steen

Investigating the Impact of a Laboratory Skills Checklist on Student Engagement in Biology

How will a lab skills checklist impact student engagement during labs? Results showed that students scored higher in posttreatment performance assessment than nontreatment assessment. Additionally, students of various achievement levels reported benefits from tracking their accomplishments. While communication between students and teacher improved, not as much improvement occurred as pretreatment data predicted

Joyce Striclyn

Teaching Sixth Grade Students Using the 5E Method of Inquiry

The 5E method of inquiry – Engage, Explore, Explain, Expand, Evaluate – is familiar to many educators. Sixth grade students who were taught using the 5E method of inquiry became more skilled in designing and conducting a controlled experiment.  They improved in their ability to collect and analyze data.  The science content scores were lower, but their understanding of how scientists work was impacted in a positive way.

 Nancy Hoggard Talley

The Effect of SAS Curriculum Pathways on Student Science Achievement

SAS Curriculum Pathways was used as an enhancement tool to increase student achievement, participation and motivation in physical science.  SAS Curriculum Pathways is an on-line model that uses reading, graphing, research, web-searches, simulations, labs, and other media to instruct and enhance physical science.  Student achievement scores did not increase, but there was an increase in participation and motivation. 

Shaun Terry

The Effects of Concept Maps on Student Knowledge of Earth Science
The goal of this project was to study the effects of including concept mapping to associate and correlate concepts from a variety of instructional methods with lessons on Earth Science curriculum in a 9th grade Integrated Science classroom. The data included multiple-choice questions, open-response answers, student interviews, and journal entries. The results indicated an increase in student knowledge of vocabulary while student improvement in test performance was mixed.

Katherine Theobald

The Impact of Social Networking in the Secondary Science Classroom

The purpose of this study was to observe the effects of incorporating a social networking platform particularly on discussions, community, and understanding. Results showed the network built a sense of community within the class and provided a comfortable place for students to interact. Student responses to discussion prompts improved in their ability to spark further discussion but remained the same in overall quality.

Rob Tillman
The Effects of Using Dichotomous Keys with Analogies on College Students’ Understanding of Biology Concepts
This study investigated the effects of dichotomous keys with analogies on students’ understanding of concepts.  A variety of data collection tools were used to isolate long-term memory and higher-order thinking skills, as well as student attitudes and motivation.  The data indicate no significant improvement in understanding and higher-order thinking skills following the treatment, but concept retention skills improved.  Both lower-order thinking skills, and student attitudes and motivation, yielded mixed results. 

Marta Toran

A Study into the Transition from High School to College Biology

The aim of this study was to gain a better understanding into the gap that exists between high school and college biology. Over 2600 students taking their first biology class in 42 universities across the US participated. In addition, perspectives of biology educators (high school and college) regarding student readiness for college biology were gathered. The results highlight inadequate student preparation and misalignment between high school and college life science.

Jeanne Torske

Differentiating Instruction with Regards to Gender and Learning Style in a Biology Class

In this investigation, lessons were differentiated with regard to both gender and learning style preference to determine the effect on student in-class performance and classroom dynamics. Overall this investigation revealed little difference between the genders, however there was a large sub-population of males with a preference for the kinesthetic learning style that were being underserved in this particular class.  Classroom dynamics were improved as a result of the differentiation.

 Audrey Urista

Modified Lecture Approaches and Their Impact in Improving Student Understanding and Performance in Science

What causes students to stay engaged, be interactive and learn during a lecture? How do we create lectures for various learning styles? This project is a study to measure the difference between two modified lecture approaches and their impact in improving student understanding and performance in science. Which lecture approach, traditional or the modified approach, using modality strategies and timed breaks, creates a better learning environment for the student?

Shari F. Ward

The Impact of Guest Speakers in the Science Classroom

Guest speakers were implemented into 9th, 11th, and 12th grade science classes to determine if, in hearing real-world success stories from individuals other than their everyday teacher, there would be impact to student interest in the content area, attention to class work requirements, motivation, and future career plans. Results show that, while most students enjoyed having guest speakers, specific results to target areas of interest vary by age group.

Tom Wellnitz

Measuring the Effectiveness of Alternative Methods of Lab Work Analysis in an AP Environmental Science Class

Four classes used different methods – preview materials, small group whiteboard presentations, class discussion, and no treatment – to process the same lab experience rather than doing lab reports.   Scores on a quiz over the lab ideas were compared to determine from which treatment students better understood the associated concepts.  Students in the class using the whiteboards regularly earned the highest quiz score.

Jennifer Williams

The Effects of Using Socially Constructive Lessons on Students’ Understanding of Biology Concepts

This study examines the effects of using social constructivism on high school biology students’ understanding of concepts. Long-term memory, conceptual understanding of biology, as well as teaching strategies were analyzed with various data collection methods. The data indicate some improvements in terms of student and teacher attitudes and relationships with each other as well as improvements in retention of biological concepts. Students' understanding showed little improvement except in terms of retention.

Matthew Wigglesworth

The Effects of Teacher Collaboration on Students’ Understanding of Earth Science Concepts

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of collaboration of Earth science teachers on student understanding, student motivation, and teacher motivation.  Data were collected using a variety of instruments to evaluate how collaboration on labs and scientific report writing impacts students and teachers in the Grade 9 Earth Science classroom.  Results indicated that student understanding and teacher motivation increased, while the results on student motivation were mixed.

Beth Workman

 Reading the Middle School Science Textbook
My project examined the use of the science textbook in my middle school science classroom.  During my first five years as a middle school science teacher, the students and I read and discussed our textbook orally.  But in trying to have more classroom time for hands-on learning, I collected data to determine if reading orally was necessary:  my study shows that it is not.

 Andrea Gissing Yordán

Setting Them Up For Success: Investigating the Efficacy of the Philadelphia Zoo’s Outreach Educator Training Program, an Informal Science Education Project

Educators need to receive proper training before they can truly be effective teachers. Using a combination of surveys and interviews of staff, managers and animal keepers, this study examined the areas the Zoo On Wheels outreach staff need to be trained in: animal handling, knowledge acquisition, and teaching and presentation skills. The results indicated that areas with defined training protocols had the highest levels of educator confidence and efficacy.