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
E-mail: msse@montana.edu
Location: 401 Linfield Hall

Director:

Dr. Peggy Taylor

2013 Capstone Project Abstracts

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Georgia Alvarez                                    
               
Does the use of ranking tasks increase the conceptual understanding of physics for 8th graders? 

This research focused on the use of ranking tasks in an eighth grade high school level conceptual physics class.  Ranking tasks were used while developing the students’ conceptual understanding of force and motion.  Many students developed an appreciation for the benefits of using ranking tasks as a learning strategy tool. The ranking tasks were additionally beneficial as an accurate assessment of the students’ level of conceptual understanding.

Kelly Arnold                                         
               
The Effect of Adding a Combination of Online and Hands-on Activities on High School Biology in an Asynchronous, Blended Virtual Environment

The purpose of this study was to increase student engagement and learning by adding both online and onsite activities that were more interactive than the traditional program.  Results indicated that student understanding and long-term memory were increased; however, both teacher and student attitude and motivation were negatively affected by the increased structure and time requirement for the additional activities.

Suzanna Barnhart                                               
               
The Effects of Case Studies on High School Chemistry Students’ Critical Thinking Skills, Content Knowledge and Perception of Relevance

This research implemented case study learning in high school chemistry classes and measured how they affected student content knowledge, critical thinking skills, and perception of relevancy.  The case studies were based on specific chemistry content and utilized cooperative group work and lab exercises.  Students collected and analyzed data both in the lab and from written cases, proposed solutions, and drew conclusions about problems identified within the cases.

David Bates                                          

Effects of Peer Review on Student Performances and Attitudes in an Urban Eighth Grade Physical Science Classroom

This research centers around the effects peer review has on the students of an urban eighth grade physical science classroom.  Students were first taught how to use rubrics to assess their own products, and then they used this skill to review products of their peers.  Diagram assignments, quizzes, tests, surveys, and interview tools were all used to collect data on how the process affected the students’ academic performances and attitudes.

Charles Benson                                    

The iPad:  Novelty or Breakthrough for Science Education?

Three eighth-grade classes used iPads for three alternating weeks during an astronomy unit.  During intervening weeks, these classes reverted to ‘”traditional” instruction.  Quantitative data showed small improvements in student achievement, motivation, and attitudes towards technology use.  Qualitative data suggested the iPads had a larger impact.  iPads had the largest positive impact upon the lowest-achieving students.  Results suggest the iPad is indeed a breakthrough technology for science education.

John Bishel                                           

The Effects of Regular Journaling on 8th Grade Physical Science Students’ Learning and Attitudes

During this research, frequent journaling was introduced to eighth grade physical science classes to determine the effect on their mastery of new science concepts, as well as their attitudes concerning science and learning about science.  Both Likert attitude surveys and summative assessments were given pre-treatment and post-treatment for comparison.  Students certainly did not like the journal assignments, but both attitudes and performances improved slightly.

Dana Bloomquist                                 

Inquiry in the First Grade Science Classroom

The varying degrees of reading literacy in the first grade classroom make the traditional text and lecture approach to teaching science inefficient. This capstone project looks at the effect of inquiry-based instruction on the abilities of students of all reading levels to build science knowledge.  By allowing first grade students to “do” science rather than read about science, students were able to learn vital science skills.

Andrew Bright                     

The Effect of Clickers on Student Assessment Scores in a High School Biology Classroom

Qwizdom student response clickers were used during the first semester of the 2012-2013 school year in a high school biology classroom. The results from the chapter tests as well as the mid-term exam were compared to the results from the previous year’s class, when clickers were not used. The clickers were shown to have a significant positive impact on assessment scores as well as student participation.

Tina Brothers-Tillinger                       

Science Talks:  A New Kindergarten Teaching Strategy

Kindergarten students need more opportunities and explorations to increase their science observation and questioning skills.  A new teaching strategy called “Science Talks” was designed to focus on these skills.  These talks began with a science question, and the students worked with a peer to develop a testable investigation or question.  Overall, this teaching strategy showed improvement in both the students’ observation and questioning skills during the action research project.

Jennifer Bruns                                     

Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Steelhead in the Classroom Program in 5th Grade Classrooms in Lewistown, Idaho

In this investigation of the Idaho Steelhead in the Classroom Program, data was used to determine program effectiveness.  Student data was used to measure content retention during the 12 week program.  Student examinations, surveys, interviews and minute papers were analyzed to assess the value content taught in the classroom.  Students who would not normally perform well in science, proved to excel throughout the duration of the program.

Joe Clark                                                              

The Effect of Guided Inquiry on Middle School Students’ Understanding of Science Concepts

The project goals were to determine the effects of the 5E model on eigth grade science students’ learning. Student recall, motivation, teacher attitude, and teacher motivation were also investigated. Students participated in planning their own investigations based upon assigned questions.  Data included assessments, surveys and interviews to measure their level of growth.  The results indicate an increase in students’ understanding and long-term memory and students’ and teacher’s attitude and motivation.
Carrie Clement                                     

The Effects of Using Science Notebooks and Guided Notes in Fourth Grade Science

The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of different strategies in note-taking within the 4th grade science classroom.  The use of science notebooks and guided notes was explored to enhance teaching methods, support students’ studying, and improve test scores. Results of the study indicate that there was not a significant change in student achievement when differentiating between the use of guided notes and science notebooks. 

Judith Coats                                         

Blending Formal and Informal Science Learning Environments:  Leveraging the Best of Both for Optional Student Success

This study examined the efficacy of using content-focused, in-classroom activities to improve student participation during an out-of-classroom learning experience.  Data collection instruments included student artifacts and attitudinal questionnaires supported by teacher surveys and researcher observations of students during the learning experience.  This study used the San Diego Zoo’s Life Cycles Program and its accompanying teacher activity booklet.  The Life Cycles Program was designed for second grade students and their teachers.

Crystal Cornwell                                  

Teaching Kindergarten Science Using an Interactive Whiteboard-Friend or Foe to Student Learning?

This project compared teaching two science units.  A weather unit was without the treatment, while the Earth and Sky unit was taught with a treatment incorporating an interactive whiteboard to display and provide student/teacher interaction(s) with educational video clips, web sites, simulations, images, and students’ writing and illustrations.  Data collection methods included whole group pre-, post-, and six week follow up KWL chart, teacher journal, and a student survey.

Brooklyne Coulter                                               

The Effects of Interactive Technology, Specifically The SMARTBoard and CPS Clickers on Student Understanding of Scientific Processes

Interactive technology, consisting of a SMARTBoard and CPS Clickers, was used in different ways to see the effects on student understanding of scientific processes.  Themes in favor of using the technology included that it was fun, modeled the real world, and built confidence.  Themes against its use centered on confusion, group dynamics, and pace.  Some technology techniques were more successful than others, but overall, understanding and engagement were increased.

Joe Crider                                             

The 5E Learning Cycle vs. Traditional Teaching Methods and How They Affect Student Achievement, Interest, and Engagement in a Third Grade Science Classroom

In this investigation, two third grade science classes were studied to determine whether the 5E Learning Cycle or traditional teaching methods were more effective in improving student achievement, interest and engagement. Both classes participated in a three-week 5E Learning Cycle unit and a three-week traditional teaching method unit. Results revealed higher student scores, interest and engagement during the 5E Learning Cycle units than the traditional teaching method units.

Emily Currier                                       

Using Reading Logs to Improve Comprehension of Science Text

In this study, reading logs were explored as an effective way to promote literacy skills including the comprehension of scientific text in sixth grade science.  The population studied was made up of sixth grade students, the majority of whom were reading at or near grade level.  Students showed an increase in comprehension and achievement after using reading logs.  Students’ attitudes about reading and their own comprehension also improved.

Janeen Curtis                                       

A Forest for Every Classroom: Place-Based Professional Development Through the Seasons

The purpose of this study was to investigate how participation in “A Forest for Every Classroom” affected the participants’ place-based knowledge and teaching practices.  After participation in the program, teachers had a greater knowledge of their local environment, taught more lessons outside of the classroom, more often used local themes to organize their teaching, more often engaged students in service learning, and more often involved community members in their teaching. 

Jennifer Curtis                                     

Using Technology to Enhance the Implementation of Peer Discussion in Science Education

This project analyzed the impact of combining peer discussion with a Classroom Response System (CRS).  Two sections of physics students initially responded to conceptual questions independently, and then responded following peer discussion.  One section was provided option-based grouping for peer discussions while the other section was grouped based on their initial responses, called evidence-based grouping.  Results showed the evidence-based groupings had improved conceptual understanding and increased student motivation for seeking answers.

James Davies                                        

The Effects of Compacted Science Units on Student Retention of Science Concepts

Class lengths were manipulated to see if condensed science units could have the same effect as typical teaching.  Five teachers taught two science units for 45 minutes a day for a couple weeks while others taught 180 minutes a day for 3-4 days.  Students who learned in a daily format consistently scored higher than students in the condensed format, but the difference was not large.

Caleb Dorsey                                        

The Effectiveness of Laboratory Instruction in a High School Chemistry Class

Laboratory instruction has long been a staple of science education.  This study investigated how laboratory instruction supported and enhanced the understanding of material taught in lecture and how it impacts student attitudes and teacher attitudes.  Results suggested that the laboratory instruction showed no significant improvement of the students’ understanding of material taught in lecture, but many students found this style of instruction enjoyable, as did the teacher.

Pamela Dresher                                    

Project Based Science Learning in Middle School

The focus of this study was to determine if project based learning is an effective method for teaching science. Seventh grade science students at an urban public middle school in California comprised the treatment group. Evolution was taught through the lens of biodiversity by having students conduct field studies evaluating the local bird population. Results showed that project based learning is effective for teaching complex science concepts and science practices.

Amy DuShane                                      

The Effects of the Use of Video Clips and Academic Conversation on Student Engagement and Achievement in Eight Grade Science

In this investigation, video clips were coupled with academic conversations to improve student engagement and achievement in an eighth grade science class.  Students were shown video clips from popular media to encourage interest in chemistry then academic conversation was conducted based on the content.  Though summative assessments did not show marked improvement of chemistry content knowledge, students expressed positive attitudes toward learning when video clips were incorporated into science lessons.

Lori Egan                                              

The Effect of Incorporating the Science Writing Heuristic Approach to Inquiry Activities in a High School Science Classroom

This research used the Science Writing Heuristic to provide students with a template for inquiry based activities.  With the SWH, students worked collaboratively on an inquiry based activity, and then connected the content to the activity through reading. Through the SWH template, students demonstrated increased productivity with collaboration as well as an increased ability to write about their findings. Students also demonstrated increased content knowledge based on exam grades.

Holly Faris                                            

The Effects of Writing strategies Emphasizing Differentiation of Physical Science Vocabulary on Student Understanding

This action research project applied daily writing treatment strategies for the purpose of improving student attitude and engagement, understanding and long-term memory, and application of vocabulary terms into written explanations.  Seventy ninth-grade physical science students were surveyed, interviewed, assessed, and observed.  The data showed an increase in students’ attitude and motivation to practice technical writing as students perceived an increase in their understanding and retention of mechanical energy concepts.

Laura Feldkamp                                  

Effects of Self-Assessment on Student Learning in High School Chemistry

Students used “I can” statements to self-assess how well they met course standards by considering their level of success on assignments and practice quizzes.  They were encouraged to use the statements to identify topics they needed to study before a summative assessment.  While more than half of the students found the statements helpful, using self-assessment had little impact on students’ summative assessment scores.

Tyler Ferebee                                        

Alternative Assessment to Engage Student Learning in a Science Classroom

In this investigation, the use of alternative assessment was used in the science classroom to help improve student engagement as well as course satisfaction.  Activities included research projects, student presentations, and self-guided learning activities.  The goal was to move away from testing to check for learning and use authentic activities to do so.  The project showed that by moving to authentic assessment student engagement in and outside the classroom increased. 

Jason George                                        

Science Outside the Box

This capstone project examined the effects of outdoor education on student motivation and student achievement.  The goal was to examine whether or not there was a positive relationship between the amount of time students spend outdoors and their motivation to do well in the field of science.  The results of the study indicate a strong relationship.

Lance Gerow        
                               
Tapping into your own personal genius: the effect of knowing one's multiple intelligences and preferred learning styles on student success in High School Physics

This study examined students’ use of assessment tools to provide an indication of their relative multiple intelligences and preferred learning styles. Using this information, students chose study and revision methods best suited to their personal strengths and preferences to assist with physics concept internalisation and employed them during a unit of study. Results indicate that performance and attitude toward physics improved.

Dale Glass                                             

Science Service Learning: Learning In Deed

Fifth grade students designed and implemented a science service learning project during their environmental science studies.  Best practices for service learning were used during students’ anti-idling project.  Academic measures showed good performance on benchmark assessments, consistent with standard treatment.  Students demonstrated gains in interest and understanding of the value of science.  Students felt empowered to use science to make a difference in the world. 

James Glynn                                         

The Effects of a Flipped Classroom on Achievement and Student Attitudes in Secondary Chemistry

In this investigation flipping was used to see if improvement occurred in achievement and in students’ attitudes toward chemistry. Flipping means classroom content was presented through asynchronous videos via the internet in advance of class. This was done in a suburban high school chemistry course. Data from tests, labs, surveys, and interviews were analyzed. Results revealed no significant change in achievement with only marginal improvement in positive attitudes.

Rachel Gray                                          

Using Brain-Based Strategies to Increase Motivation, Cognition and Long-Term Memory of Biology Concepts

The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether integrating brain-based strategies would increase motivation, cognition and long-term memory of biology concepts. Brain-based strategies focusing on multiple intelligences, student choice and team building were incorporated into treatment lessons. Results showed that the use of brain-based strategies made students feel more comfortable in the classroom, resulting in increased achievement and long-term retention.

Taylor Green                                        

The Effectiveness of Discussion Boards in Teaching Biology

This study was designed to determine the effectiveness of using on-line discussions in a biology classroom. Students participated in a series of discussion board topics. Instructor involvement in discussions was also explored.  The results showed that students preferred instructor participation, resulting in more in-depth discussions.  Discussion boards had little impact on overall student science content learning.

Michael Greenhoe                                

Evaluation of a Nomenclature Activity in Multiple Chemistry Classrooms

In this study, a chemistry nomenclature classroom activity was evaluated in three different schools.  The activity was evaluated to test the relevancy of the activity to students’ lives, the effect on their motivation, and the retention of nomenclature concepts.  The activity was shown to be relevant in the students’ lives by using everyday household products, resulting in slight increase in the students’ motivation for the subject of chemistry. 

Courtney Harrell                                  

Improving Student Metacognition through Standards-Based Grading in a High School Chemistry Class

Standards-based grading (SBG) was implemented with the purpose of improving student metacognition.  Grades were earned according to a 4-Point Scale and the student’s trend was the final grade.  Metacognition was accessed through predictive scoring of assessments.  Results indicate that students improved metacognitive skills from the detailed feedback of SBG while predictive scoring quantified metacognition.  The final exam at the end of the semester demonstrated 97% accuracy of predictive scoring.

Michael Helseth                                    

The Impact of Teacher Feedback in Science Notebooks

Teacher feedback in science notebooks is critical in helping students develop scientific concepts.  One class of fifth grade students were divided into two groups; one group at a time was given feedback and then results of notebook scores, and assessments were compared to determine the impact of teacher feedback.  Teacher feedback did not have significant impact on the student learning, however, regular review of notebooks is a valuable formative assessment.

Robin Henrichs                                    

Effects of Real-World Contexts on Long-Term Memory and the Understanding of Chemistry Concepts in the High School Classroom

Students were taught chemistry concepts using real-world topics as the basis.  Data collection tools were used to gauge the level of student understanding, motivation, and teacher attitude and motivation.  The data showed that using real-world contexts positively affected the students’ understanding of chemistry concepts, long-term memory, motivation, and the teacher’s attitude and motivation.

Benjamin Heyde                                   

Online Assignments and Mathematics Learning

In this investigation, online and written assignments were used to study student learning in an Adult Basic Education mathematics course.  Student performance on summative assessments was not significantly affected by the treatments, and a majority of students showed a preference for the written assignments.  Students who showed strong familiarity and comfort with online work preferred the online assignments.  The instructor saw great benefits and future avenues for online assignment work.

Alice Hinck                                           

An Evaluation of Cross Age Science Outreach within Public Schools

This project evaluated the effectiveness of using high school students to teach science to elementary students.  As a result of the project, elementary students’ content knowledge and science perception increased.  High school students gained a deeper understanding of the concepts they were teaching.  The teachers and students involved were excited about the experience and are interested in furthering the scope of this project.               

Jennifer Hood                                       

How Does the Implementation of Differentiated Vocabulary Instruction Influence the Success of 7th Grade Students in a Middle School Science Classroom?

Learning academic vocabulary can be just as difficult as learning a new language. In order to help students build a strong foundation for science content and literacy in a classroom with mixed abilities and languages, this action research focused on differentiated vocabulary strategies. The strategies used did increase student understanding of essential vocabulary. In particular, repetition, illustrations and small groups contributed the most to student content comprehension and connections.

Jeanna Jasperson                                

Practice Meets Theory: Using Guided Inquiry on Students’ Understanding of Physic Concepts in the Middle School Classroom.

The goal of this project was to investigate the effects of guided inquiry on middle school students’ understanding of physic concepts.  Data were collected using a variety of tools that measured student understanding, long-term memory, student motivation, and teacher motivation. The data showed improvement of student understanding and motivation when working with lab activities and group work. Long-term memory showed mixed results while teacher motivation yielded a slight increase.

Beverly Jaworski                                  

The Effects of Science Fairs on Students’ Knowledge of Scientific Inquiry and Interest in Science

This study evaluated the effect of science fairs on student learning and interest in science.  Students were tested on scientific inquiry before and after the fair.  Students were surveyed and interviewed before and after the fair concerning interest in science.  The results showed participation in the fair did not increase everyone’s scores on scientific inquiry nor did it promote any new interest in the study of science.

Tamara Jendro                                    

The Impact of Increased Nonfiction Reading on Student Achievement in Science

This action research project was designed to study the effects of adding increased amounts of science related nonfiction reading had on student achievement in science.  Post-test scores indicated additional nonfiction reading did not improve student achievement.  The data showed an increase in the number of students who choose to read nonfiction books.  Results also indicated students understood the importance of reading nonfiction sources to gain knowledge and understanding of science topics.

Susan Johnson                                     

What is the Impact of Interactive Science Notebooks on Student Success in Science?

Research shows that brain function increases as students are immersed in an active, personal, and engaging learning environment.  Classroom use of the interactive notebook models this type of brain-based learning.  As a result of using the notebooks students demonstrate a stronger capacity to actually retrieve and apply the information in a variety of settings. The use of the interactive science notebook encourages independent thinking, metacognition, and student confidence in science.  

Sheri Juroszek                                      

Creating Online Access as a Communication Bridge:  Its Impact and Effectiveness on Middle School Science.

The purpose of this study was to build accountability in eighth science grade students by creating a website where they were able to access assignments, enrichment materials, and resources needed to complete assignments.  Student’s perceptions of becoming independent learners was also assessed.  There was a slight increase in achievement, but a larger increase in perception was measured.

Kevin Kenealy                                      

The Effects of the 5E Learning Cycle on Understanding High School Biology

Students were exposed to the learning strategy through the engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate 5E cycle with probes, readings, labs, activities, and online simulations.  Data were collected through project assessments, interviews, and surveys.  The data showed improvement of students’ understanding and questioning skills through the use of the 5E learning cycle including students’ and teacher’s attitude and motivation.

Linda Kocian                                        

The Impact of Three-Color Practice Quizzes and Self-Progress Monitoring Portfolios on Achievement and Engagement of At-Risk Biology Students

The addition of three-color practice quizzes aligned with learning objectives and student self-progress monitoring portfolios were examined for achievement and engagement of at-risk high school ninth/tenth grade biology students.  Students assessed their own learning through practice quizzes taken alone, with peers, and with notes.  They recorded their mastery of learning objectives, assignment completion, and quiz scores on a portfolio.  Although the intervention positively impacted engagement, achievement did not improve significantly.

Amanda Kozak                                    

 What effect does preparing for lab in advance have on student achievement in a high school Accelerated Chemistry Class?

The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of preparing for lab before class had on high school chemistry students.  Data collected indicated that student achievement was higher in labs where students prepared ahead of time versus labs they didn’t prepare ahead of time.  Data also indicated that students better related to the contents of the labs when they prepared on their own versus using teacher prepared lab materials.

Scott Lannen                                        

How Will Student Scores Be Affected by Incorporating Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) Strategies in the Chemistry Classroom?

This project examined the effectiveness of using a Plan, Do, Study, Act model in a chemistry classroom to increase student scores.  Students were involved in the planning and assessment of several chemistry units.  By collecting data with student surveys, exam scores, and student interviews, it was found that this method of teaching increased the scores of the lower students, but not the class as a whole.

Robert Lee                                            

The Effects on Student Learning in the Science Classroom When Working in Groups, Pairs, or Alone.

This project examined the effectiveness of students working in groups, pairs or alone. The results of my project showed the majority of students preferred to work with a partner or in a group. However, the results indicated that GPA's did not change as a result of cooperative group work.

Brett Lehner                         

The Effects of Intervention Strategies on Student Awareness of Science Homework Completion

Two strategies were used to develop student awareness about late or missing assignments to increase homework completion rates: a grade sheet and an electronic progress report to parents.  Both intervention strategies helped develop awareness of homework completion.  There was an improvement in the overall grade in all classes; however, this improvement was not a result of turning more homework in on time, but rather more late homework was turned in for a grade.

Heather Lieberg                                   

Title of Project-Science Notebooks in the Elementary Classroom

Implementation of science journals into elementary classrooms was the topic of this research topic.  Two groups of second grade students were used to conduct the research.  Units on the topics of matter and weather were taught to each group.  One group was taught using science notebooks, while the other class was taught using a lecture format.  The research concluded that students who used science notebooks showed greater gains than those who did not.

Martha Lord                                        

Implications of Planned Formative Assessment Training in a Science, Math and Humanities Classroom

The purpose of this Action Research project was to investigate the implications of implementing planned formative assessment in a high school classroom.  This Action Research endeavor evaluated seven teachers as they were trained and subsequently asked to utilize two Classroom Assessment Techniques in their individual classrooms and recorded information on their successes, failures and ideas.

Doug Lymer                                         

How Does Inquiry-based Learning Affect Attitudes Towards Science of First Grade English Language Learners?

This Action Research project involved first grade English Language learners’ attitude towards science class using inquiry-based learning.  Students were engaged in open-ended, student-centered language building activities while they constructed knowledge cooperatively.  The students practiced the informal science language associated with the content without the added pressure of speaking in front of their peers.  The inquiry-based learning lessons showed statistically significant gains in the students’ attitudes towards science class.        

Dalton McCurdy                                  

The Relationship Between Self-Assessment and Constructing Evidence Based Explanations in an Eighth Grade Physical Science Classroom

This study investigated the link between formative assessments use and the ability to construct evidence-based arguments in an 8th grade science class. Student surveys on writing capabilities and content comprehension were collected. Writing samples were analyzed as well.  Results varied, but trends suggest that formative assessment use raises students’ confidence in writing and verified the importance of continuous feedback in the learning process.

Julie McDonnell                                   

The Effects of Guided Inquiry on Understanding High School Chemistry

In this investigation, guided-inquiry labs and class activities were implemented with the purpose of improving student understanding in high school chemistry. Process Oriented Guided Inquiry activities, guided-inquiry labs, and online investigations were used with a wide variety of assessments. Students showed increased conceptual understanding and problem-solving skills. While results on higher order thinking skills were mixed, students demonstrated increased engagement. Both the teacher and students experienced increased motivation.

Heather McWhorter                            

Evaluating the Effects of Required Science Journal Entries for Fifth-Grade Science Students During a Science-Specific Field Trip

Journaling can help students learn to appreciate an awareness of experiences. In this action research-based project, multiple methods to measure effectiveness of journal use were used during a fifth-grade science field trip. The results indicated journal use is effective in increased awareness and improved attitude towards scientific thinking.

Murray Metge                                      

The Effect of STEM Research Projects on Ninth Grade Foundations of Science Classes.

In this investigation different strategies were implemented for the purpose of determining if students engaged in real world research projects based on their personal interest would find science more interesting.  The findings of this project indicated mixed results; some of the data showed little if no difference, and other data, observations and interviews, showed students enjoyed researching projects of their own interest.

Ashley Milbrandt                                 

The Effects Science Notebooks have on Elementary Learners

This research project investigates using science notebooks with first grade students.  Students used science notebooks to record (written or with drawings) what they observed, predicted or experienced.  Student pre and post-tests, summative test, rubric scores, interviews and teacher field notes contributed to the final conclusion of this study.  Science notebooks proved to be helpful to first grade students, but provided the most support for growth for below average students.

Julie Morris                                          

How Does the Use of Case Studies, as an Instructional Strategy, Affect the Perception of Relevance of Science in a High School Conceptual Science Class?

The purpose of this project was to see if using case studies would increase the learning and perception of relevance of science among unmotivated juniors in Conceptual Science at Manteno High School.  Evidence collected during the study showed that while student learning increased during units when case studies were used, the perception of relevance of science was virtually unchanged.  Surveys and interviews showed that students enjoyed using the case studies.

John Nilsen                                           

Interest Development and the 5E Model in Grade 9 Conceptual Physics

This action research project investigated the effectiveness of the 5E model at increasing student interest in the study of electromagnetic induction, and examined factors thought to be associated with interest development. Using lesson-specific surveys, as well as pre and post-treatment surveys and assessments, the 5E model was shown to be effective at increasing students’ situational and personal interest. The factors of enjoyment and meaningfulness most strongly correlated with students’ interest.

Laura Patch                                          
               
Online Collaboration Impact on Student Engagement and Communication in Environmental Science 

To enhance student engagement in Environmental Science enlightening articles and applicable case studies were integrated in the science content.  For each unit students read articles, responded to essential questions, and participated in an online discussion forum with their peers. This study focused on the benefit of online collaboration to promote independence in learning, engagement in the content, self-direction and communication among ninth grade students. 

Brian Phillips                                        

The Effects of Role-Play on Concept Comprehension and Critical Thinking Skills of Middle School Students

This study investigated how the use of role-play in the classroom affected student comprehension and critical thinking as well as motivation.  Students researched environmental science topics through the eyes of an assigned character.  Units culminated in discussions and debates where each student argued the viewpoint of his/her character.  The results showed improvement in student comprehension, a modest increase in critical thinking, and students’ and teacher’s attitude and motivation.

Dorcella Plainbull                                 

Teaching Science Through Native Crow Culture

This project is an analysis of whether or not Native American elementary students perform at a higher level in science comprehension when a cultural component is utilized as the central theme for a learning unit, in this case, the traditional Crow uses of the buffalo.

Mary Ragusa                                        

The Effects of Utilizing Cooperative Learning Structures in a High School Chemistry Classroom

The problem in this action research was poor student engagement in the classroom.  This study analyzed the effects of utilizing specific cooperative learning structures on the engagement of students in a chemistry-accelerated classroom.  It was found that student engagement was increased in the classroom with the use of varied cooperative learning structures during a treatment period of four months. Students enjoyed the use of varied structures in the classroom.

Jayanthi Ramakrishna                       

The Effects of using Guided Inquiry with Technology, including Simulations and Virtual labs, on Student Understanding of Concepts in Advanced Placement Physics Classes

This study investigated the effects of using guided inquiry with technology, including simulations and virtual labs on student understanding of concepts in advanced physics classes. Students used simulations and virtual labs besides guided inquiry to learn concepts about electricity. The data showed an increase in students’ interest and motivation as well as an increased enthusiasm and positive outlook for the teacher but yielded mixed results for understanding and long-term retention.

Chris Reidburn                                    

The Relationship Between E-journaling and Sophomore High School Students’ Understanding of Physical Science Concepts

The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between student e-journaling and understanding of science concepts.  The treatment group consisted of 17 sophomore Physical Science students.  Students were required to create blogs based on prompts given by the instructor and leave responses to their peers’ posts over six weeks.  This study determined there is a positive connection between blog creation, comment participation, and Physical Science concept comprehension.

Stacey Rhodes                                      

Evaluating the Effects of a Modified Thayer Method Approach on Assessment Scores in High School Chemistry Classes

Traditionally, teachers lecture the class and disperse information to students at one time.  The Thayer Method is a learning model that has been used for over a century at West Point where students prepare and complete all work before attending class.  A modified version of the Thayer Method was implemented in three chemistry classes at Meade County High School.  Assessment scores were compared between treatment classes and non-treatment classes.  In the treatment class  scores were 9% lower on all assessments.  However, student engagement increased during the unit.

Andrea Robbins                                  

The Effects of Using Metacognitive Strategies on Student Understanding of Evolutionary Concepts

This project observed the effects metacognitive strategies had on student learning, long–term memory, motivation, and teacher enthusiasm in a sophomore Biology classroom during a unit on Evolution.  The treatment unit included intervention strategies such as reflection journals, peer justification, and QUAD notes.  While the intervention seemed to have little effect on student understanding, attitude, and teacher enthusiasm, it did improve student retention of concepts over time.

Christopher Rocheleau                       

The Effects of Formative Assessments with Targeted, Real-World, Current Events, and Hands-On Activities on Students’ Understanding of Elementary School Scientific Concepts in an English Language Learning Environment

This project investigated the effects of real-world, current events and hands-on activities on students’ understanding of elementary school scientific concepts, their motivation, their long-term retention of these concepts, and teacher  motivations.  Quantitative and qualitative data were collected using multiple methods.  The data showed an increase in students’ retention of scientific concepts.  Data concerning their long-term retention and the teacher’s motivation were mixed.

Pablo Rojo                                            

Studying the Effects of Differentiated Instruction in the Science Classroom

In this investigation differentiation strategies were implemented with the purpose of improving student engagement and learning in both individual and group work settings. Group work activities were differentiated according to learner profile. Though performance on summative assessments did not show marked improvement following the treatment, students demonstrated and expressed more positive attitudes towards the learning settings.

Sally Sanders                                        

Maximizing the Functionality of the Florida Item Bank and Test Platform for Science Assessment

This study investigated Florida science educators’ perceptions of the functionality and value of a new state Item Bank and Test Platform.  Evidence from this study shows a shift from negative or indifferent views of science assessment to a more favorable perception of its value as a tool for improving science teaching and learning.

Josie Shern                                           

The Impact of Science Notebooks on Student Achievement

This project implemented science notebooks in science teaching.  Students responded in their notebooks by writing and/or drawing after each treatment lesson.  Notebooks were used to reinforce concepts and to increase student achievement.  The use of science notebooks increased achievement for some students, but more importantly, became a favorite science activity for most.

Charles Shields                                    

When Learning About Engineering, What Type of Learning Activities Do Seventh Grade Science Students Prefer?

The study sought to determine what type of engineering activities seventh grade science students found most and least interesting.  In order to ascertain an answer, students were presented with a sequence of four engineering lessons, two applied and two virtual.  Results were determined using data collected from pre-tests, post-tests, student self-evaluations, student interviews, and a teacher self-evaluation.  Initial results indicated a slight preference of applied activities.

Judith Silva                                          

Let’s Play: Using Games in the Science Classroom to Reduce Student Stress and Increase Content Understanding

The impact of using games in the classroom to reduce student stress and increase content understanding was studied in a seventh grade life science class. An additional area of focus was the effect games had on classroom climate. The results showed little change in content understanding or student stress. An improvement in classroom climate was observed with students arriving on time to class with an excitement to play the games.

Michelle Slaughter                                               

The Effects of Laboratory Activities on Improving Science Content Mastery

The research presented in this paper was designed to evaluate whether laboratory activities provided in a science content course improved student content mastery, as well as their performance on formative assessments. Students participated in pre and post laboratory assessments using the Smart Response Clicker System, informal interviews, and student surveys. Data showed the overall class average increased substantially for all three class periods, and students reported positive feedback on surveys.

Matthew Sloan                                     

The Effect of Implementing a Problem-Based Learning Model on Student Attitude and Performance in High School Freshman Biology

The purpose of this study was to evaluate how using a student-centered Problem-Based Learning (PBL) approach would impact student attitude toward engaging in science, understanding of course concepts, and assessment performance in a high school freshman Biology course. Data indicated that students enjoyed their increased role in the course and the experiential learning of PBL. Study participants matched past student performance on traditional assessment, yet demonstrated statistically improved non-traditional assessment scores.

Adam Smith                                         

Technology and Student Understanding of Kinematic Graphs in the Physics Classroom

Kinematic graphs play an important role in students understanding basic physics concepts dealing with motion.  Often these graphs are difficult for students to interpret and connect with the real world.  This project investigated how video analysis software and an educational video game could assist students understanding of these graphs.  While students did increase their understanding of kinematic graphs, further improvement can be made.

Charles Strobino                                  

The Effectiveness of Flipping Classroom Instruction with Homework Assignments so as to Increase Student Understanding in Algebra

A research study was conducted to test the effectiveness of the flipped classroom as a means of increasing student understanding in Algebra 1. The day’s lesson was recorded on video and posted online for the students to watch as homework. Problems traditionally done for homework were assigned as class work. Results from this study showed an increase in homework completion rates, test scores and student confidence in regards to algebra.
Angela Swank                                      

Effects of Using an Outdoor Environmental Education Program on Students’ Understanding of Environmental Science

This project focused on the effects of using an informal education program, Outdoor Environmental Education, on students’ understanding of environmental science concepts.  The results indicated an increase in understanding of environmental science concepts and increased long-term memory of these concepts as well as increased interest into learning science in their classrooms.  This research yielded an increased awareness of the effect of the teacher’s attitude and motivation in teaching in a short-term education environment.

Chris Swiden                                        

Effects of Challenge Based Learning on Student Motivation and Achievement in a High School Science Classroom. 

High school freshmen Physical Science students participated in a CBL project to assess the effect the teaching style had on student motivation and achievement.  The students designed and completed an environmental project that benefited our community.  High school freshmen Physical Science students participated in a challenge based learning project.   CBL increased the motivation of the students and maintained achievement even though students spent half the time on the normal curriculum. 

Sarah Tabor                         

Textbook Reading Strategies in the Middle School Science Classroom

The Common Core Standards mandate a focus on reading and writing in science. Two textbook reading strategies were trialed in the seventh grade science classroom and the effects were measured quantitatively through homework, quiz, and test scores. Qualitative data was collected through surveys and student interviews. The preferred strategy is called P.L.A.N. and uses concept mapping and a writing component to preview, analyze, and summarize the text.

Kenneth Taylor                                    

What are the Effects of Visualization Tools on the Conceptual Understanding of Basic Chemical Processes and Change?

This paper explored the effects of university students’ understanding of fundamental concepts as various tools were used to help see ideas from a different perspective.  Changes in student attitude toward types of problem solving along with a growth in knowledge base were also explored.  The results indicated that these tools help more in the long term vs. short term and attitudes and knowledge base are difficult to change.

Carol Teintze                                        

Pipetting and Graphing and Conversions. Oh My! Motivational Assessments that Teach Lab Skills

Developing lab skills is one of the purposes of the lab experience, yet students struggle with mastering them.  Two motivational performance assessments were designed to help students master skills, see their relevance to their future careers, and provide a simple means of measuring outcomes.  Pipetting, metric conversions, graphing, standard curves and data analysis were five basic lab skills that were targeted.  By semester’s end, 100% mastered 4 out of 5 skills.

Zachary Thomas                                  

The Impact of Science Fair Projects on Student Learning and Mastery of Nature of Science Objectives in 9th Grade Physical Science

The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of science fair projects on student learning and mastery of Nature of Science objectives in 9th grade Pre-AP physical science. In this project students were required to complete a science fair project. Data was collected using tests, surveys, interviews, rubrics. The data showed an increase in student achievement, mastery of objectives, and that student attitudes towards science were more positive.

Jacob Thompson-Krug                       

Improving Oral Expressive Language through Science Journal Writing

Students responded to prompts through science journal writing prior to small group discussions in order to improve expressive language.  Special education students showed an increase in speaking skills, and a majority of students felt more organized writing their thoughts down prior to speaking.  Understanding students are eager to speak in class, but feel better writing ideas down first, and are able to provide insight as to how develop speaking skills further.

Kristina Troge                                      

The Effects of Incorporating Science Journalism on Scientific Literacy

This project was designed to investigate if incorporating components of science journalism into the daily schedule of a chemistry and physics classroom would impact ELL student’s science literacy skills. Interaction with current science news, article writing, and monitoring student progress were included in the treatment units. Student writing samples and communication demonstrated improvement in multiple components of science literacy measured in this study.

Dina Tucker                                         

Investigating the Efficacy of a Flipped Science Classroom Model

An introductory honors level high school biology course was used to implement a flipped classroom model in the topic of biochemistry.  Ten minute lecture videos were recorded and collaborative work was completed during class. Surveys and questionnaires were used to collect data about student preference. The results indicate that students enjoyed their class more and learning biochemistry in this way was preferable to the traditional in-class lecture format.

Jennifer Vaughn                                  

Effects on Science and Art Integration on Urban Pre-Kindergarten and Fourth-Grade Students

The goal of this project was to study the effects of art and science integration on students’ understanding of science concepts. Students were exposed to different types of art concepts during science lessons to improve their observation skills. Various data collections concerning the effects of the project indicated students’ comprehension, motivation, and the students’ and the teacher’s attitudes improved throughout the study.

Carrie Wager                                        

Grading Homework for Accuracy to Show Achievement in a High School Biology Class

This study was implemented in Biology I classes, composed of ninth and tenth graders, to help determine if grading for accurate answers and providing written feedback on homework would improve assessment scores.  Time spent on homework and the amount of copying of homework was also investigated in this study.  Homework, assessment grades, surveys, interviews, homework logs, and classroom observations were used.  Although there was not a statistically significant change in achievement, the study did show that the number of students copying homework was lower in the treatment group. 

Cindy Watson Pottebaum                  

Improving Recruitment and Training For 4-H STEM Youth Robotics Program Volunteers

In this study, 4-H Volunteer Robotics Training workshops were evaluated for effectiveness.  Using surveys, interviews and communication logs, this study examined the usefulness of the Robotics Volunteer Training workshops using LEGO Mindstorms kits and software.  The data collected helped to determine that a positive, supportive environment can help volunteers overcome past fears and negative feelings toward science and technology to become successful leaders of youth robotics activities.

Mary Ann Watt                                   

Effects of the 5E Instructional Model on Student Understanding and Engagement in High School Chemistry

The effects of the 5E model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate) on student understanding and long-term memory of chemistry concepts, and student and teacher attitude and engagement was studied in two high school chemistry classes. While the data collected had mixed results as to the effects of the 5E model on student understanding, it showed positive impacts on student long-term memory of chemistry concepts and engagement in the learning process.

Irene Wilcox                         

Does a Mixed Approach to Vocabulary Instruction Increase Student Comprehension in Seventh Grade Life Science?

In this investigation a mixed approach to vocabulary instruction was implemented within a seventh grade life science classroom.  This mixed approach included semantic mapping of unit vocabulary words, morphology and textbook reading strategy lessons which were utilized instead of my standard curriculum.  The results showed that the treatment increased student comprehension of the unit concepts, but no more than the standard curriculum.

Danielle Wilczak                                   

The Effects of Blogs and Podcasts on Student Achievement and Attitudes in the Sixth Grade Earth Science Classroom

This action research-based project was conducted to determine the effects of blogging and podcasting on student achievement and attitudes in a sixth grade Earth science classroom. Various blogging and podcasting opportunities were provided. Assessment scores were used to determine their effect on student achievement and attitudes.  The research indicated that while blogging and podcasting foster a positive student attitude, they do not increase assessment scores.

Suzanne Wilson                                   

Effects of Inquiry Instruction on Biology Students’ Attitudes and Critical Thinking

This study measured the effect of student-designed inquiry on students’ attitudes and their critical thinking skills.  Surveys pre- and post-treatment were used to determine student attitudes.  Students’ inquiry reports were used to evaluate their written conclusions for a claim statement, data used as evidence and a logical connection to science models. Students made improvements in designing and interpreting their research and increased their positive attitudes toward learning science.