Measuring the effectiveness of alternative methods of lab work analysis in an AP environmental science class

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Montana State University - Bozeman, Graduate School


Lab investigations are an important part of the AP Environmental Science course. Given the 25 labs expected by the College Board and the number of students taking the class, this project sought to evaluate the increase in student understanding of environmental lab concepts from alternative debriefing methods used instead of lab reports. Four classes used different methods - use of preview materials before the lab, small group whiteboard presentations about a specific part of the lab experience, class discussion after the lab, and no treatment - to process the same lab experience rather than doing lab reports. After the treatment, students took a quiz over the lab content. Scores on the quiz were compared to determine from which treatment students better understood the associated concepts. The treatment methods rotated between classes so that each class used each of the approaches three times. Students in the class using the whiteboards had the highest class-average seven of the twelve times and were ranked second for another three trials. A possible reason for the effectiveness of the whiteboard is the small group discussion may increase the mental stimulation necessary for learning and memory.




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