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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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Action research in stem classrooms

Wake Innovative Noyce Scholars (WINS)

Leah McCoy, PI

Samantha Freiberg, Scholar

Anna Hester, Scholar

Joseph Hester, Scholar

Action Researchin STEM Classrooms

Action research process

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

Graphing Calculators

Research Question

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

Graphing calculators1

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 calculators2

Graphing Calculators

  • Participants

  • Procedures

    • Quadratics Unit

    • Cubics Unit

  • Measures

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

    • Focus group interview

  • Analysis

Graphing calculators3

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

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 goals1

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 goals2

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 goals3

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

Science Identity

Research Question

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

Science identity1

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 identity2

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 identity3

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

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 year1

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 year2

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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