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0800h ED21A-0087 Peer Mentoring to Facilitate Original Scientific Research by Students With Special Needs James M Danch PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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0800h ED21A-0087 Peer Mentoring to Facilitate Original Scientific Research by Students With Special Needs James M Danch [email protected] Colonia High School 180 East Street Colonia, New Jersey 07067. Abstract. Methods. Results.

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0800h ED21A-0087 Peer Mentoring to Facilitate Original Scientific Research by Students With Special Needs James M Danch

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0800h ED21A-0087 Peer Mentoring to Facilitate Original Scientific Research by Students With Special NeedsJames M Danch

[email protected] High School

180 East Street

Colonia, New Jersey 07067

Abstract

Methods

Results

Developed to allow high school students with special needs to participate in original scientific research, the Peer Mentoring Program was a supplement to existing science instruction for students in a self-contained classroom. Peer mentors were high school seniors at the end of a three-year advanced science research course who used their experience to create and develop inquiry-based research activities appropriate for students in the self- contained classroom. Peer mentors then assisted cooperative learning groups of special education students to facilitate the implementation of the research activities. Students with special needs successfully carried out an original research project and developed critical thinking and laboratory skills. Prior to embarking on their undergraduate course of study in the sciences, peer mentors developed an appreciation for the need to bring original scientific research to students of all levels. The program will be expanded and continued during the 2007-2008 school year.

April 2007

1.     Formation of initial concept.

2.     Discussion with Special Education teacher.

3.     Presentation to administration. (week 1)

4.     Assignment to seniors – Develop a simple experiment to introduce the idea of a control.

5.     Experiments evaluated. (week 2)

6.     One experiment chosen.

7.     Experiment modified by instructor.

8.     Experiment submitted to Special Education teacher for approval. (week 3)

9.     Assignment to seniors – Develop an activity to introduce students to concepts and equipment needed for experiment.

10. Assignments evaluated.

11. One activity chosen.

12. Activity modified by instructor.

13. Activity submitted to Special Education teacher for approval (week 4)

  • All mentored students were able to successfully conduct the independent research project.

  • All mentored students were able to collect sufficient data to produce graphs of both differences between control and experimental groups (fig. 4).

  • All mentored students were able to comprehend the difference between control and experimental groups.

  • Most mentored students were able to comprehend the difference in rate of growth between control and experimental groups (fig. 5).

Introduction

  • Inquiry-based teaching with students conducting their own authentic research has been advocated as an important strategy for improving all students’ science achievement and their understanding of the scientific process (Bencze & Hodson, 1999; Chinn & Malhotra, 2002; Hodson, 1998; Melber, 2004; W. M. Roth, 1995; Schack, 1993; Wellington, 1998).

  • The goal of the Peer Mentoring program is to utilize the expertise of high school students already enrolled in a successful authentic science research course to introduce students with special needs to inquiry-based science education (fig.1).

May 2007

14.  Activity carried out by student mentors. (week 1)

15.  Laboratory Experiment carried out by student mentors (week 2)

16.  Second experiment chosen.

17.  Second experiment modified by instructor.

18.  Experiment submitted to Special Education teacher for approval. (week 3)

19.  Experiment discussed with student mentors.

20.  Initial phase of experiment carried out by student mentors. (week 4)

June 2007

21. Second phase of experiment facilitated by Student Mentors (week 1)

22. Data collection continued (week 2)

23. Data analysis facilitated by Student Mentors (week 3)

Fig. 5. Sample comparative data generated by peer mentored students.

Fig. 4. Sample comparative data generated by peer mentored students.

  • Mentored students exhibited pride in their work and enthusiasm for science lessons.

  • Student mentors voiced positive statements concerning working with students with special needs.

Table 1. Levels of Inquiry modified from Schwab (1962) and O’Herron (1971).

The goal of this program is to move students from level 0 to level 4.

Discussion

  • Mentored students were able to complete the activity presented, but cognitive and emotional characteristics limited comprehension and interpretation of the results in some cases.

  • Greater pre-lab preparation will be undertaken to increase comprehension of results.

  • In 2007 students were able to complete a level 3 inquiry activity (table 1) but the procedure, while developed by students, was heavily guided by mentors.

  • The effect of the program on student mentors’ attitude towards science education and students with special needs will be evaluated by questionnaire after completing their undergraduate experience in an effort to determine if the experience altered their career decisions.

  • The 2008 school year will involve a new set of student mentors, though many of the mentored students are still present and will be able to repeat the program.

  • The goal for 2008 is to have students perform a true level 3 inquiry activity and then develop and conduct a true level 4 activity.

Background on the Existing Science Research Program From Which Student Mentors Were Selected:

  • Authentic research (table 1) involves typical activities of professional researchers and has been defined by Pizzini, Shepardson and Abell (1991) as follows:

    • Students identify problems and solutions, and test these solutions;

    • Students design their own procedures and data analyses;

    • Students formulate new questions based on their previous claims and solutions;

    • Students develop questions based on their prior knowledge;

    • Students link their experience to activities, science concepts, and science principles; and

    • Students share and discuss procedures, products, and solutions.

Started in 1987 and modeled after traditional mentor-driven graduate research programs.

Funded via state grants, student grants and school district budget.

Expanded to 3 high schools after development of curriculum guide (Darytichen and Danch, 1999).

Avoids many limitations of traditional “Hands On” science classes.

Students choose topics of personal interest.

Students work to obtain original results.

Creativity is fostered.

Three-year commitment allows students to explore topics in greater depth.

Allows high school students to add to the body of scientific knowledge.

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank:

Mr. Frank Darytichen, Science Supervisor

Mr. Robert McLaughlin, Principal

Mrs. Dorothy Ponte, Science Department Chairperson

Mrs. Linda Rockmaker, Special Education Teacher and her students.

Student Mentors: Kevin Paszinski, Zain Paracha, Shamik Patel, Mike Partyka, Divya Patel, Vanessa Pizutelli, Melissa Toledo

Ms. Laura Hemminger, Director, Center for School and Community Health Education and the UMDNJ School of Public Health for poster printing

Fig. 1. Science Research student peer mentor.

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