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Research Design

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Can BioTAP be adapted across disciplines (esp. Chemistry & Economics, maybe history) and beyond our institutional context? (the "what unifies" question)

  • Repeating the "what works" project in chemistry and econ to evaluate whether or not using the tool is helpful in different contexts
    • Use TAP rubric to assess student writing in two groups
      • students who wrote theses without using TAP as a teaching/learning tool
      • students who wrote theses using TAP as a teaching/learning tool
    • compare before-TAP and after-TAP groups within disciplines (not across disciplines) to assess whether using the tool improved student writing across disciplines


Does using TAP (as teaching/learning tool) also change students' attitudes and perceptions about what it means to be a scientist? (the "what's possible" paper)

  • Use "retrospective" (?) survey to assess students' attitudes about their ability to do science ?
  • Use reflection paper ?
  • CLASS survey ?

UPDATE as of March 2010

Although I have done the assessments of honors theses in Chemistry and Economics, I will have to limit my presentation of results to those within biology.  What I have been working on in the past few weeks is assessing the impact of taking a thesis writing course on the overall quality of theses written.  The easy part is calculating the differences in scores -- the group taking the course score significnatly higher than the control group.  The tricky part is that students self-select into the course.  So, we have been doing analyses to determine if the group compositions are significantly different and whether or not those differences (in gender, ethnicity, grades in previous writing-courses, etc) influence the thesis score.  LUCKILY, I am collaborating with someone who knows how to do this kind of analysis.

Spoiler alert -- here are my preliminary results regarding group composition:

Overall, the groups seem comparable.  There are slightly more women in the WIB group than in the control group (p=0.06, Table 1), but gender does not play a significant role in increasing consensus scores (p=14, Table 3).  The WIB group had slightly lower SAT Math scores than the control group (p=0.06, Table 2), but SAT Math scores have no significant impact on consensus scores (0.89, Table 4).  More Hispanics enroll in WIB than expected (p=0.01, Table 1), whereas slightly fewer Asian/Pacific Islanders take the course than expected (0.08) (I need to do further analyzes to see if ethnicity affects scores). 

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