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The Biology Experimental Design Challenge: An Interactive Approach to Enhance Students’ Understanding of Scientific Inquiry in the Context of an Introductory Biology Course

    Author: Jeffrey T. Olimpo1
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    Affiliations: 1: School of Biological Sciences, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO 80639
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 01 May 2015
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • Corresponding author. Mailing address: School of Biological Sciences, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO 80639. Phone: 970-351-2923. Fax: 970-351-2335. E-mail: jeffrey.olimpo@unco.edu.
    • ©2015 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2015 vol. 16 no. 1 75-76. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.817
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    Abstract:

    The scientific method serves as a procedural framework for advancing knowledge and discoveries in a number of fields, including the natural and life sciences. Despite its essential role in these disciplines, students often perceive the scientific method to be a fact-driven, linear pursuit, rather than a dynamic process. To address this concern, I developed the Biology Experimental Design Challenge (BEDC) game to reinforce students’ understanding of the scientific process. Specifically, the group activity focused on students’: a) ability to develop testable hypotheses; b) determine suitable dependent, independent, and control variables for their proposed experiment; c) interpret data to draw evidence-based claims; and d) pose questions for future research. This process was punctuated with opportunities for each group to receive feedback from other teams regarding their experimental design, creating discussion and occasional collaboration between groups. In this paper, I present methods for implementing the activity, as well as provide evidence that demonstrates student pre-/post-activity learning gains achieved as a result of implementation of the BEDC in a first-semester introductory biology discussion course.

Key Concept Ranking

Spring
1.0
Elements
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Dishes
0.935785
Lead
0.85
Adaptation
0.773976
1.0

References & Citations

1. Brownell S, Kloser M, Fukami T, Shavelson R2012Undergraduate biology lab courses: comparing the impact of traditionally based “cookbook” and authentic research-based courses on student lab experiencesJ Coll Sci Teach413645
2. Burnette JIII, Wessler S2013Transposing from the laboratory to the classroom to generate authentic research experiences for undergraduatesGenetics19336737510.1534/genetics.112.1473553567729 http://dx.doi.org/10.1534/genetics.112.147355
3. Stead D2005A review of the one-minute paperActive Learn High Educ611813110.1177/1469787405054237 http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1469787405054237
4. Tang X, Coffey J, Elby A, Levin D2009Scientific inquiry and scientific method: tensions in teaching and learningSci Educ942947
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.817
2015-05-01
2017-04-30

Abstract:

The scientific method serves as a procedural framework for advancing knowledge and discoveries in a number of fields, including the natural and life sciences. Despite its essential role in these disciplines, students often perceive the scientific method to be a fact-driven, linear pursuit, rather than a dynamic process. To address this concern, I developed the Biology Experimental Design Challenge (BEDC) game to reinforce students’ understanding of the scientific process. Specifically, the group activity focused on students’: a) ability to develop testable hypotheses; b) determine suitable dependent, independent, and control variables for their proposed experiment; c) interpret data to draw evidence-based claims; and d) pose questions for future research. This process was punctuated with opportunities for each group to receive feedback from other teams regarding their experimental design, creating discussion and occasional collaboration between groups. In this paper, I present methods for implementing the activity, as well as provide evidence that demonstrates student pre-/post-activity learning gains achieved as a result of implementation of the BEDC in a first-semester introductory biology discussion course.

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Figures

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FIGURE 1.

Students’ pre-/posttest performance on the BEDC assessment. Individual comparisons of pre-/posttest scores for each category were all found to be significant at < 0.005, where the “Science as a Process” category includes questions 1 and 2 of the BEDC assessment, and the “Components of Experimental Design” category includes questions 3 to 6. Error bars represent the standard deviation (%) for the corresponding data series.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2015 vol. 16 no. 1 75-76. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.817
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