The effects of an inquiry-based data-to-concept curriculum

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Montana State University - Bozeman, Graduate School


This action research evaluates the effects of the implementation of an inquiry-based, data-to-concept curriculum on students and teachers. The data-to-concept model is a pedagogical approach where students gather data first and formulate their own explanations or mental models for the observations prior to any introduction to the concept or vocabulary associated with the concept. While a previous study supports achievement gains in science after implementing a data-to-concept curriculum, there is uncertainty about the distribution of achievement gains in science across various subpopulations such as gender, Title I status and income status. Comparisons were made using students' scores from MontCas (Montana's state achievement test), Lawson's Classroom Test of Scientific Reasoning, a modified Science Attitudes, Skill and Knowledge survey along with interviews of both teachers and students. Analysis indicates that in general, students make gains in their reasoning skills after two years of data-to-concept science classes. There does not appear to be a difference in science achievement based on gender or income status, but there seems to be an achievement gap based on Title I status. In relationship to attitude, students generally have a positive attitude towards science after one semester of data-to-concept instruction. Both teachers and students prefer the data-to-concept method to more traditional, expository methods of teaching and learning. In general, this study supports the use/implementation of a data-to-concept curriculum. While in general this is true, there are some improvements to the data-to-concept model, which will be necessary to make achievement equitable for all students regardless of status. The science department at Big Sky High School will have to address the achievement gap based on Title I status. In my classroom, I will need to work to help students understand the limitations and power of science as a way of understanding the natural world. The data-to-concept model of instruction is supported by data and preferred by both students and teachers.




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