The effects of science literacy instruction on student ability to gather evidence to support scientific claims

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Montana State University - Bozeman, Graduate School


The purpose of this research is to determine if increased focus on science literacy improve student ability to gather evidence to support scientific claims. The lessons focusing on scientific literacy consisted of annotating a scientific text, participating in a Socratic seminar within the Paideia method, and constructing claim, evidence, reason (CER) charts in groups. The cycle used to complete these lessons utilized PONG (Problem, Observe, Negotiate, Goal), which supports teachers by structuring lessons as a repeated process where students construct and critique arguments, moving toward a goal. Three non-treatment units were followed by three treatment units in a 9th grade honors physical science class at Franklin Towne Charter High School in Philadelphia. It was found that treatment had a positive impact on student performance on student ability to write argumentative essays and write analyzes when given scientific data. Mean essay scores increased by 18% and mean data analysis scores increased 20% during treatment. Additionally, by the third round of treatment over 80% of students indicated they were confident in their abilities on all survey questions relating to writing argumentative essays and data analyses. Students also completed pre-test and post-test CER explanations based on common misconceptions before and after each unit. Scientific literacy PONG cycles were less effective in helping students use evidence to support claims for problems based on common misconceptions. If anything, it seemed that the treatment simply helped students to better rationalize an incorrect claim. Additionally, it was determined that student attitude toward treatment type (annotation, Socratic seminar, and CER charts) did not differ based on student learning style (visual, auditory, or kinesthetic). All student types favored Socratic seminars and CER charts in groups over completing annotations. Overall, scientific literacy treatment was found to be effective. In the future I intend to alter treatment by only implementing scientific literacy PONG cycles in more concrete units like The Nature of Science, Forces, Energy, and Waves as opposed to units involving more abstract thinking like Motion, Matter, and Intro to Chemistry due to the developmental state of 9th grade students. Additionally, while student attitude toward completing annotations was negative overall, I am not confident this means inclusion of annotations is ineffective. Students indicated that they did not like annotations due to their experiences using them in English class. In the future I will implement annotations under a different name to distance the scientific annotation process from those completed in other classes to determine if attitude changes. Additionally, when implementing treatment in non-honors classes, I intend to scaffold treatment more by completing annotations as a teacher lead assignment, including more guiding questions during Socratic seminar, and using heterogeneous grouping when completing CER charts.




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