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Capstone assignment

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What started as a simple study in the summer grew into a triangulated (quadrangulated?), mixed-methods research project!   In August of last fall I was able to find a graduate student to help me define a draft of the methods and protocol to pilot the project on four undergraduate students and one faculty member.  We made changes and were able to get our study protocol approved by IRB in November.  Having a graduate student who is as excited about this project as I am is essential to moving this project forward.  In addition, I presented my project and rationale to my department in the fall and the research problem and question resonated with them.  Knowing that my non-biology education inclined colleagues are interested in my work is important for my confidence within my department and the impact that I can have locally.  I am looking forward to sharing with them what we learn from this study and I hope that it will change the way the approach their teaching!  The major challenge that we have encountered is time.  The graduate student is a first-year student and has class and a qualifier exam that has taken her away from the study, much to her dismay!  She is completely invested in the project and cannot wait to devote herself to it.  The transcription process is slow and I also wish I had more time to devote to working on the project.  We are both looking forward to the summer!  Our near-term goals are to finish analyzing the completed interviews and to recruit more faculty and students (undergraduate and graduate).  We hope to be able to use the insights from this study to inform instruction in a class I teach the spring where students perform experiments, data analysis and present their results and also in other classes in my department.  We hope to publish our findings from this study and, perhaps, the classroom intervention in 2014, so that others can make use of the data!

Caption for figure: The objective of the research project that I started to develop last summer at the Biology Scholars Research Residency is to elucidate the knowledge and reasoning that novices and experts use when choosing and creating graphical representations of data from biology experiments.  In the study, participants complete a pre/post survey that asks them to rate their knowledge, confidence, and confidence around aspects of data analysis and graphing in addition to outlining a procedure for going from data to graphical representation.  During the think-aloud interview, participants are asked to create a graph from data generated from a simple experiment, evaluate a flawed representation of those data, decide what type of data could be represented in sample graphs, and generate a graph from a description of an experiment.  The interviews are being transcribed verbatim and two independent investigators are coding the transcripts using an inductive method.  Preliminary analysis suggests some common and different reasoning used along the novice to expert continuum, but more interviews need to be analyzed!


Key references:

Berg, C.(1994).  Journal of Research in Sci. Teaching. 31(4),323-44.

Padilla, MJ et al(1986). School Science and Math. 86(1), 20-26.

Novick,L. (2004)  Mathematical Thinking and Learning.  6(3), 307–342.

Schonborn, K., Anderson, T. (2009) Int. J. of Sci. Edu. 31(2)193-232.


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