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Wake Innovative Noyce Scholars (WINS) Leah McCoy, PI Samantha Freiberg, Scholar Anna Hester, Scholar Joseph Hester, Scholar. Action Research in STEM Classrooms. Action Research Process. Identify a topic (question) in the classroom Seek information (related studies)

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Action Research in STEM Classrooms

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Wake Innovative Noyce Scholars (WINS)

Leah McCoy, PI

Samantha Freiberg, Scholar

Anna Hester, Scholar

Joseph Hester, Scholar

Action Researchin STEM Classrooms

Action Research Process

  • Identify a topic (question) in the classroom

  • Seek information (related studies)

  • Apply a possible solution (treatment/analysis)

  • Reflect on the results and next steps (conclusions and implications)

Graphing Calculators

Research Question

How does the use of graphing calculators support conceptual understanding in mathematics?

Graphing Calculators

  • Ellington, A. J. (2006).

    • Graphing calculators can improve overall achievement and attitude toward mathematics

  • Milou, E. (1999).

    • Teachers think that students should solve problems algebraically first, and then use calculators to support solutions

  • Quesada, A. R., & Maxwell, M. E. (1994).

    • Students think that calculators help improve conceptual understanding

Graphing Calculators

  • Participants

  • Procedures

    • Quadratics Unit

    • Cubics Unit

  • Measures

    • Student work (pre-test & post-test)

    • Focus group interview

  • Analysis

Graphing Calculators

  • Results

    • Student work

    • Focus group interview

      “…it depends on the way they taught you. Sometimes it’s simpler by hand or sometimes the calculator helps more…”

  • Conclusions

  • Implications

Self-relevant Future Goals

Research Question

How does having students identify self-relevant future goals and form related sub-goals affect their perception of relevance, task instrumentality, and achievement in a math class?

Self-relevant Future Goals

Miller and Brickman (2004)

Proposed a new model focusing on personal, future goals

Personal Future Goal->Formation of Subgoal->View Task as Related ;> Increased Motivation

Kadlec, Friedman, and Public Agenda (2007)

Most students don’t think math is relevant

76% of students attributed others’ failures in math/science to perceiving the topics as irrelevant

Motivation is difficult

Self-relevant Future Goals


  • Students …

    • Identified their personal, future goals,

    • Created sub-goals

    • Reflected

      Measures and Analysis

    • 1) Surveys

    • 2) Focus groups

    • 3) Student work

Self-relevant Future Goals


  • Common Goals

  • Common themes

    • 1) Students had not identified sub-goals previously

    • 2) Motivation increased

    • 3) Recommended the activity

    • 4) Perception of relevance

  • Achievement


  • The results suggest the treatment was effective in increasing students’ motivation and in many cases, their achievement.

Science Identity

Research Question

To what extent does the incorporation of humanistic, research-based science stories impact biology students’ identity in science?

Science Identity

Related Studies

  • Making science accessible (Kozoll & Osborne, 2004).

  • Context is important for meaning and relevance (Rudolph and Stewart, 1998).

  • “Way of knowing” vs. fact memorization (Lederman, 1998).

  • NOS and socially acceptable roles and experiences (Shanahan, 2009).

Science Identity

Treatment & Analysis

  • 2 classes of Honors biology, mostly comprised of 9th grade students

  • Discussion-based, research-focused lectures:

    • Collaboration/Competition – Discovering the structure of DNA

    • Tentativeness – “Lock-and-key” vs. “Induced fit” enzyme activity models

    • Innovation/Creativity – Famous experiments in cell biology

  • Used Likert and free response surveys, open-ended interviews and observations.

Science Identity

  • Results & Conclusions

  • T-tests showed no significant differences in opinions before and after the intervention.

  • More nuanced understandings of NOS.

  • Naïve misconceptions about the relevance of science.

  • Identity formation requires exposure to both formal and informal applications of science.

Other studies this year

  • What is the impact of a scientific module-formatted unit on student attitudes towards science?

  • How does incorporating students’ creative expression through the arts affect engagement and motivation in mathematics?

Other studies this year

  • How does writing “Math Tweets” several times each week to summarize the material affect students’ engagement and understanding?

  • Does problem-based learning lead to the creation of female scientific identity, increased learning and performance?

Other studies this year

  • Does peer-teaching with group presentations improve the learning and understanding of new physics material?

  • What is the impact of reflective journal writing on student engagement in a high school biology class?

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