Iteration and failure : how does an inquiry-based design lab course impact the resilience learning of middle school students?

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Montana State University - Bozeman, Graduate School


A student's ability to face academic adversity is identified as resilience. It is described as being able to "bounce back" in the face of challenges. The question posed by this project is how does an inquiry-based design lab course impact the resilience learning of middle school students? The 55 middle school students at the Perkiomen School, in Pennsburg, PA, participated in such a course, where they were asked to use creativity to solve challenging problems in the classroom. The students completed pre- and post-treatment 8-Question Grit Scale surveys. They also described their experiences in the course using reflective assignments. They also participated in group interviews, and selected students participated in individual interviews. The pre-treatment student grit scores ranged between 1.88 and 4.50 with a mean of 3.44, while the post-treatment survey showed a range of 1.75 to 4.50 with a mean of 3.38. The teacher-completed surveys regarding how they perceived each student's grit showed a similar range, 1.92 to 4.56 with a mean of 3.25. The overall success of the treatment during the study was inconclusive. The overall student grit score dropped by a score of 0.06. The day student subgroup showed a decrease in grit score over the study of 0.03, though the boarding student subgroup also showed a decrease of 0.13. The findings of this study are encouraging, while though the mean grit score of all participants remained relatively unchanged, a majority of students did not show a negative change (33 of 54, 61%). While the idea of iteration and failure was always present in each activity, the students appeared to focus more on group dynamics when evaluating their progress. This leads to several interesting questions when planning future iterations of this course. Would the students benefit from a larger workspace which would allow for small workgroups and more independence? Would the course benefit from more time in the weekly class schedule, offering the students more opportunity to test their strategies? Lastly, given the relatively short time frame of the treatment period, would longer term surveying of the students validate the long term benefits of such a course?




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