The effects of problem-solving case studies on understanding high school biology
Eneroth, Kendra Lee.
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The purpose of this project was to study the effects of problem-solving scenarios in biology as a learning strategy for high school biology students. 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 project began with a nontreatment unit on DNA structure and function where students were engaged in traditional biology learning activities that included reading, lecture, video, labs, and hands-on simulations. Students were then exposed to two treatment units, one on gene expression and mutation and the other on natural selection. During both treatment units students engaged in a variety of problem-solving scenarios for the purpose of connecting biology content to real-world applications with the hope of improving student understanding and motivation. Scenarios included video, reading, and simulation case studies on a variety of topics. Data were collected using student preunit and postunit assessments, surveys, and interviews with concept mapping as a measure of student content understanding, higher-order thinking, and motivation. In addition, teacher data were collected using classroom observations and teacher reflections to gain understanding of student motivation, as well as, teacher motivation and pedagogy. The data showed improvement of student understanding and motivation, especially when a combination of problem-solving case studies included hands-on scenarios activities.