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Creating and Teaching Science Lessons in K–12 Schools Increases Undergraduate Students’ Science Identity

    Authors: Jennifer A. A. Gubbels1, Seasson P. Vitiello1,*
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    Affiliations: 1: Augustana University, Sioux Falls, SD 57197
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    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. October 2018 vol. 19 no. 3 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i3.1594
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    Abstract:

    Success and persistence in the life sciences is influenced by a student’s self-efficacy, sense of belonging, and science identity. It has already been demonstrated that outreach experiences and service learning by graduate students in K–12 schools aid in the graduate students’ confidence and intrinsic satisfaction. Others have shown the importance of engaging scientists in outreach activities, both for the benefit of the K–12 student and as a way to engage scientists with the community. We predicted it would also be beneficial for undergraduates to engage in service-learning activities during their coursework because working with K–12 students would solidify their scientific identity and sense of belonging while deepening their understanding of the course content. Consequently, we implemented service projects in our upper-level molecular biology and human physiology courses at a primarily undergraduate institution that focuses on five core values: Christian, Liberal Arts, Excellence, Community, and Service. Outcomes such as the undergraduate students’ value of service, confidence in their knowledge of course content, ability to create effective lesson plans, and science identity were measured using anonymous surveys. Overall, students reported that they highly valued and enjoyed this unique experience. This type of activity could be used to increase future scientists’ awareness of synergistic activities such as academic service and of the joy found in such activities. Future plans include measuring the effects on the participating high school and elementary school students and visiting schools with a high proportion of students from underserved populations.

References & Citations

1. Laursen S, Liston C, Thiry H, Graf J2007What good is a scientist in the classroom? participant outcomes and program design features for a short-duration science outreach intervention in K–12 classroomsCBE Life Sci Educ6496410.1187/cbe.06-05-0165173393941810206 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.06-05-0165
2. Ecklund EH, James SA, Lincoln AEHow academic biologists and physicists view science outreachPLOS One7e36240225905263348938
3. Brownell SE, Price JV, Steinman L2013Science communication to the general public: why we need to teach undergraduate and graduate students this skill as part of their formal scientific trainingJ Undergrad Neurosci Educ12E6E10243193993852879
4. American Association for the Advancement of Science2011Vision and change in undergraduate biology education: a call to action: a summary of recommendations made at a national conference organized by the American Association for the Advancement of ScienceJuly 15–17, 2009Washington DChttp://visionandchange.org/files/2013/11/aaas-VISchange-web1113.pdf
5. Graham MJ, Frederick J, Byars-Winston A, Hunter A-B, Handelsman J2013Increasing persistence of college students in STEMSci Mag34114551456
6. Seymour E, Hewitt N1997Talking about leaving: why undergraduates leave the sciencesWestview PressBoulder, CO
7. Stevens CIntegrating community outreach into the undergraduate neuroscience classroomJ Undergrad Neurosci Educ10A44A49236264923598185
8. Achenbach J2015The age of disbeliefNat Geograph2273047
9. Trujillo G, Tanner KD2014Considering the role of affect in learning: monitoring students’ self-efficacy, sense of belonging, and science identityCBE Life Sci Educ1361510.1187/cbe.13-12-0241245914973940464 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.13-12-0241
10. DeJarnette N2012America’s children: providing early exposure to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiativesEducation17784

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2018-10-31
2018-12-18

Abstract:

Success and persistence in the life sciences is influenced by a student’s self-efficacy, sense of belonging, and science identity. It has already been demonstrated that outreach experiences and service learning by graduate students in K–12 schools aid in the graduate students’ confidence and intrinsic satisfaction. Others have shown the importance of engaging scientists in outreach activities, both for the benefit of the K–12 student and as a way to engage scientists with the community. We predicted it would also be beneficial for undergraduates to engage in service-learning activities during their coursework because working with K–12 students would solidify their scientific identity and sense of belonging while deepening their understanding of the course content. Consequently, we implemented service projects in our upper-level molecular biology and human physiology courses at a primarily undergraduate institution that focuses on five core values: Christian, Liberal Arts, Excellence, Community, and Service. Outcomes such as the undergraduate students’ value of service, confidence in their knowledge of course content, ability to create effective lesson plans, and science identity were measured using anonymous surveys. Overall, students reported that they highly valued and enjoyed this unique experience. This type of activity could be used to increase future scientists’ awareness of synergistic activities such as academic service and of the joy found in such activities. Future plans include measuring the effects on the participating high school and elementary school students and visiting schools with a high proportion of students from underserved populations.

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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1

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FIGURE 1

Timeline of lesson plan preparation. Preparation took 4 class meetings for both the Molecular Biology course (left) and Human Physiology course (right). Some time is required outside of class for further development of the lesson.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. October 2018 vol. 19 no. 3 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i3.1594
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Image of FIGURE 2

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FIGURE 2

Students’ scientific identity. Students’ feelings about being a scientist were assessed using indirect quantitative measurements. A. Outcomes for Molecular Biology students—high school lesson plan. B. Outcomes for Human Physiology students—elementary school lesson plan.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. October 2018 vol. 19 no. 3 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i3.1594
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Image of FIGURE 3

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FIGURE 3

Students’ efficacy in the material. Students’ feelings about how much they learned the course content after completing the activity were assessed using indirect quantitative measurements. A. Outcomes for Molecular Biology students—high school lesson plan. B. Outcomes for Human Physiology students—elementary school lesson plan.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. October 2018 vol. 19 no. 3 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i3.1594
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Image of FIGURE 4

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FIGURE 4

Students’ value of service. Students’ feelings about service and service-learning after completing the activity were assessed using indirect quantitative measurements. A. Outcomes of Molecular Biology students—high school lesson plan. B. Outcomes of Human Physiology students—elementary school lesson plan.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. October 2018 vol. 19 no. 3 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i3.1594
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Image of FIGURE 5

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FIGURE 5

Students’ enthusiasm toward the service-learning activity. Students’ feelings about how much they enjoyed the service-learning activity were assessed using indirect quantitative measurements. A. Outcomes of Molecular Biology students—high school lesson plan. B. Outcomes of Human Physiology students—elementary school lesson plan.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. October 2018 vol. 19 no. 3 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i3.1594
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Image of FIGURE 6

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FIGURE 6

Students’ written comments following the service-learning activity. Students were asked to anonymously share their thoughts about the service-learning activity. Representative comments from both Molecular Biology and Human Physiology students are shown.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. October 2018 vol. 19 no. 3 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i3.1594
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Image of FIGURE 7

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FIGURE 7

Students’ grades for the lesson plan, dress rehearsal, and subway speech. Group grades for the dress rehearsal and lesson plan development (both elementary and high school presentations) and individual grades for the subway speech (high school only) are shown.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. October 2018 vol. 19 no. 3 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i3.1594
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Image of FIGURE 8

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FIGURE 8

Elementary and high school teachers’ comments about the lessons. Teachers were surveyed after the service-learning day to evaluate the effectiveness of the undergraduates’ lesson plans on their students.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. October 2018 vol. 19 no. 3 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i3.1594
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