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Graduate Action Research Project Emory and Henry College Spring 2013 Katie Thomas

Introduction / Rationale
Introduction / Rationale
Research shows that U.S. students are falling behind in the field of science compared to other countries (Rich, 2012). In order to keep students interested in sciences, teachers need to challenge their students. In my personal experience, high school biology labs are a great resource to use in the classroom to keep students interested. Students are able to actively participate while learning new material. I feel that if students are allowed to design their own labs by formulating their own hypothesis, procedure, and data collection method, then they will develop the confidence and understanding needed to compete at the same level as science students from other countries. The confidence in turn will create more interest in the field of science.

Research Topic

Literature Review
Students in undergraduate biology classes who were instructed to design their own lab, experienced higher degrees of confidence, working knowledge of lab procedure, and future research interest than those with a predesigned lab (Brownell, Kloser, Fukami, & Shavelson, 2012; Kloser, Brownell, Shavelson, & Fukami, 2013). Students directed to design their own lab in a class that involved interaction with a professor or TA showed an increase in understanding of material versus those who had a predetermined lab with the same assistance (Burrowes & Nazario, 2008). Research based labs are more effective in developing student understanding (Weaver, Russell, & Wink, 2008). Labs are useful tools in order to increase student understanding along with teacher assistance for full development (Puhek, Pere, & orgo, 2012).

Do student designed labs increase understanding of research methods, material, and confidence in the biology classroom compared to predetermined labs?
Research Design

Two tenth grade biology classes will be studied over a period of six weeks -Heterogeneous mix of equal learners into a Control and Experimental Group -Equal number of students in each group -Both taught by the same teacher -Lab topic: Abiotic and Biotic effects on Arabidopsis thaliana -Control class will be given predesigned lab with preselected abiotic and biotic factors and procedure -Experimental class will be given lab outline and instructed to design their own procedure and select factors -Data will consist of pre and post survey questions -Data will be graphed to show results