Cultivating genius: an exploratory case study of the genius hour instructional technique and its effect on the identity and self-efficacy of high school science students
Reuer, Marcia Diane
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Genius Hour, a project-based instructional technique that promotes learner autonomy, has developed a dedicated following among teachers. However, despite the widespread enthusiasm about Genius Hour in the K-12 classroom, little to no empirical evidence exists on the effectiveness of the approach. To respond to this gap in the research, a longitudinal exploratory case study was implemented to better understand the practices of Genius Hour in a high school STEM environment. Of particular interest for this investigation was the influence of Genius Hour on students' identities and self-efficacy and in particular, on science identity and science self-efficacy. A two-year, longitudinal, mixed methods, exploratory case study spanning two years was performed that focused on high school freshmen (n=136) and their participating classroom teacher. Data sources included self-report surveys regarding identity and self-efficacy, as well as whole group interviews, individual interviews and small group interviews. Quantative data was analyzed using a paired t-test and normalized gains and effect size, while qualitative data was analyzed using emergent thematic analysis. Quantitative measures indicated the Genius Hour instructional technique increased students' belief in their scientific ability based on pre and post survey data, however, the effect size was small. Additionally, students had statistically significant gains in the Next Generation Science Standards Science and Engineering Practices (National Research Council, 2016) of asking questions and defining problems and analyzing and interpreting data. While quantitative analyses did not yield any significant results to suggest influence of Genius Hour on identity, there were substantial qualitative results to suggest participation in Genius Hour developed students' identities and in particular, their science identities.