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3. Bibliography

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Biology Scholars Annotated Bibliography

  1. Bealer, Jonathan and Virginia Bealer. (1996) Acting Out Immunity: A Simulation of a Complicated Concept.The American Biology Teacher 58(6): 360-62.

This article is the only one I’ve found that is similar to my own role-playing exercise.However, there are differences in approach between our two methods, and they did not include any data on the effectiveness of the exercise in the classroom.This is a good starting point for me to figure out what has been previously done and how to write-up my own exercise for other people to follow.

  1. Aubusson et al. (1997) What Happens When Students Do Simulation-role-play in Science? Research in Science Education 27(4), 565-579.

This article looks at the use of role play to help students understand abstract scientific concepts at both the high school and college level.This is in direct contrast to many other educational role play exercises that I’ve found, where students pretend to be a specific scientist or advocate for a controversial scientific topic.Therefore, this paper matches much more closely to my own research goals.There are many references in this paper that will also be helpful to read.The introduction provides compelling arguments for the use of role play in education.However, much of the data presented in the article are anecdotal (comments from the teachers and students).Even data about follow-up exam questions are anecdotal, rather than statistical data.

  1. McSharry, Gabrielle and Sam Jones. (2000) Role-play in science teaching and learning. School Science Review 82(298): 73-82.

While this article is primarily trying to encourage educators to attempt role-play in their classrooms, it provides excellent definitions of the different kinds of role-play exercises in scientific education, including seven specific categories (experiments, presentations games, simulation (moral/ethical role-play), analogy role-play, metaphorical role-play, and theater).According to these definitions, my exercise is an analogy role-play.It also discusses perceived difficulties in incorporating role-play in the classroom, which prevent educators from attempting it in the classroom.

  1. DeNeve, Kristina M. and Mary J. Heppner. (1997) Role Play Simulations: The Assessment of an Active Learning Technique and Comparisons with Traditional Lectures. Innovative Higher Education 21(3): 231-246.

The authors used role play in an industrial psychology course to mimic a business (Board of Directors of a pizza company) and address problems associated with running that business on employee satisfaction and company success.Thus it is a quite different role play exercise than my own.I was originally very excited about this article, as I thought it would provide me with some direct methods for testing my hypothesis. However, this paper uses mostly student perception of learning (through use of surveys) rather than directly testing of learning outcomes using statistical data. It does provide a nice summary of effectiveness of “active learning” exercises in education at that time (1997), and indicate that while many of these studies did not truly test active learning compared to more traditional techniques, the few studies that did showed no real benefit (or detriment!) to the active learning exercises.While it may be limited in helpfulness as to the actual structure of the study, I am including it in my bibliography at this point as an example of how others have tried to answer a similar question to my own.

  1. McCarthy, J. Patrick and Liam Anderson. (2000). Active Learning Techniques Versus Traditional Learning Styles: Two Experiments from History and Political Science. Innovative Higher Education 24(4): 279-294.

Unlike the article above, this paper does provide statistical data to show increased learning in students who performed active learning exercises.In the history class, students in certain discussion sections participated in role-play debates compared to other sections that heard a more traditional lecture on the same material.In the political science course, one section of the class used traditional lecture, while the other section used group work to cover the same material.They used the exam as their method of testing learning outcomes.This article also gives a great summary of role play effectiveness as described by other authors (some of which are already listed in this bibliography).

  1. Chinnici et al. (2004) Students as “Human Chromosomes” in Role-Playing Mitosis and Meiosis. The American Biology Teacher 66(1): 35-39.

In this article, the authors analyzed whether students (non-biology majors) who participated in the role-play had different learning outcomes compared to their classmates that did not participate.They found that students who did the role-play answered a higher percentage of bonus exam questions correctly compared to their classmates (55.1% compared to 47.9%), and that these differences were statistically significant.

  1. Firooznia, Fardad. (2007). The Story of the Calvin Cycle: Bringing Carbon Fixation to Life. The American Biology Teacher 69(6): 364-367.

This article is the most directly relevant to my own students that I have found so far, because it deals with students in an introductory biology class.The author analyzed the exam outcomes of students who used a musical play to be introduced to the Calvin Cycle (and then were subsequently reviewed using lecture), as compared with students who learned by more traditional lecture methods.He found that students introduced to the material via the musical performed significantly better on the exam (90% mean score compared to 71%).

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