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