Effects of incorporating selected next generation science standard practices on student motivation and understanding of biology content
Rowland, Randy Z.
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Students of this day and age often show a lack of interest and engagement in science, as evidenced by a lack of motivation and academic performance. This project focused on the use of selected Next Generation Science Standards practices; developing and using models, using mathematics and computation thinking, and engaging in argument from evidence to aid in helping them understand biology concepts and in motivating and engaging them. The effects of using these practices on instructor engagement and motivation as well as student's perception of the instructor caring about them were also considered. This project investigated the effects of incorporating the chosen practices as compared to a traditional teacher-centered behaviorist classroom in a general biology course at a moderately sized high school in Wyoming. The effects of incorporating the chosen practices was assessed by comparing two units on the molecular basis of genetics and genetic principles taught using the selected NGSS practices to a traditionally taught unit on bacteria using pre and postintervention assessment data. The initial unit lasted for two weeks, the unit on the molecular basis of genetics lasted for five weeks, and the unit on genetic principles lasted for four weeks. Students completed pre and post intervention target assessments and concept surveys on their perception of understanding. Some students also completed in-depth interviews with the instructor about both the content and the methods of learning. Additional forms of data collection were employed during all three units to determine the effect on student engagement and motivation, including field notes, pre and postintervention nonconcept interviews, and pre and postintervention biology engagement/motivational questionaires. Effects on the instructor's teaching and motivation were determined through the use of field notes, pre and postintervention surveys, and nonintervention and intervention observations by a colleague. The effects on students' perception of instructor caring was assessed using field notes and reflective journaling, pre and postintervention surveys and student quotes from pre and postintervention surveys. The results showed improvement in both student conceptual understanding and student motivation and engagement. Results also showed an improvement in the instructor's engagement and motivation. A review of data regarding the effects of incorporating the selected NGSS practices on students' perception of instructor care for them revealed a lack thereof and the results were inconclusive.