The effects of using social constructivism in the high school science classroom

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Montana State University - Bozeman, Graduate School


Some students show a disinterest in science yet a great interest in making social connections with their classmates. This project looks at using social constructivism in the high school biology class and its effects on student attitudes, understanding of biological concepts, and long-term retention. This project used three units of study done with the same class. One was done in a traditional biology classroom manner with hands-on labs and teacher lectures. The other two units contained lessons designed to build social relationships with classmates as part of the learning of the unit. Each unit lasted two weeks. Students were assessed before, after, and again two weeks later for each unit. The unit topics were genetics, biotechnology, and evolution. Students took short-answer quizzes, answered essay questions, and filled out survey questionnaires for each unit. Some students did in-depth interviews with the teacher about both the content and the methods of learning. Assessments from each unit were compared with some mixed results. Students did build relationships with their classmates and enjoyed the changes in teaching style. Long-term retention of biological concepts also occurred. The use of the same assessment for the study helped the students show improvement and may not reflect actual improvement. Teacher and student attitude did show improvement.




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