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Experimental Inquiry

RUNNING HEAD: EXPERIMENTAL INQUIRY

Experimental Inquiry Dianne J. E. Kraus Wilkes University

Experimental Inquiry

ABSTRACT The students in the mini-study for experimental inquiry are a group of 27 male and female students of mixed diversity from Dundee Crown High School in Carpentersville, Illinois. Most of the students in the Advanced Biology classroom are from the AVID program which is a college preparatory program that takes students from the middle and supports them with teaching strategies and tutorial support so that they will be prepared to attend a four year college. The AVID students learn higher order thinking skills and other 21st Century skills. The other students are from the mainstream of the school including special education students. There are two males who have behavior disorders and there is one male student who has autism.

Experimental Inquiry

Experimental Inquiry The experimental inquiry activity that is the focus of the mini-study is the culminating assignment of the experimental design unit for the Advanced Biology classroom. The students have received instruction that has been chunked and scaffolded so that they know how to write a hypothesis, design a controlled experiment, write a procedure, choose the appropriate analysis tools, prepare graphs for their data and write the conclusions for their experiment backed by data and grounds after they have tested their hypothesis. The learning goal for this experiment was that students will design a controlled experiment to conduct and collect data, in order to test a
hypothesis for a specific biological concept, and will be able to support their conclusions with evidence. The students were given a scale for their learning goals and also an experimental design template for their pre-write, experimental design group work, a journal for experimental results template and a lab analysis format template. (APPENDIX 1) The student interest topic was based on a CNN news report where a fourteen year old girl died two weeks ago after drinking two Monster energy drinks. Then CNN followed up by reporting five more similar cases within the last two weeks. The students completed background research based on the news report and developed their own hypothesis that we agreed to as a class. The students were given their choice of variables to test based on caffeines effect as a stimulant on heart rate, blood pressure and EKG results. The students learned how to use the Vernier equipment, and blood pressure/heart rate monitors. The students assigned themselves tasks to complete the experiment which was a source of disagreement. Two boys in the video decided to act up because they wanted to use the video equipment to record the experiment but the students had already assigned that role to other members of the group and the pre-planning was supported by the teacher. The students planned to drink Monster to test the hypothesis but the teacher vetoed this design as it posed a risk to the students health. The students used various types of soda and were limited to

Experimental Inquiry

three cans per test subject. The students were able to state their hypothesis, they conducted the experiment, collected their data both on a group white board and in their science journals, they graphed their data and wrote up their final lab reports as an assessment for the lab according to the analysis guidelines given to them by their teacher. (APPENDIX 2) The learning goal for this lesson was met during the lesson because this is a science class and the work that has been done during this unit prepares the students for conducting experimental inquiry for the rest of the year. The students were able to complete this process with only minimal guidance from the teacher. In the future they will be given instruction on the concepts and then will be expected to test their hypotheses independently regarding the concepts with the materials given to them. The lesson in the video was innovating because the students worked in collaborative groups on a student interest topic to generate and test a hypothesis. The students not only collected their data and analyzed their results to accept or reject the hypothesis but they also identified possible sources of error in their thinking. Student artifacts provide evidence of the students learning experience. (APPENDIX 2) In the video the students were working on their experimental inquiry, they explain their background research and they establish their predictions prior to collecting their data. After the video was completed they worked in groups to analyze their data and to share their results. The final lab report was completed as individual work and demonstrates their understanding. During the lesson, the experimental design went very well and the students had a clear understanding of the expectations and the students are all working together to engage in their inquiry. They were involved in finding the results and analyzing what the results meant with regard to testing their hypothesis about the effects of caffeine. Challenging parts of the lesson is the classroom management that is required when students are unhappy with their assigned roles in the group. It is not possible for everyone to be completely happy with their assigned role at this age, but as a result there was some inappropriate behaviors and words exchanged that were not with good purpose.

Experimental Inquiry

They also demonstrated some off-task behaviors that caused some disruption during the inquiry, but they did participate and they collected their data. The following day we held a class meeting to re-visit our classroom norms and to discuss as a class the attitudes and behaviors that could be improved and how they affected other people in the group including the stress level of the teacher. We want a positive learning environment so it was important to clarify our commitment to each other in maintaining an affective tone. As a result of this self-assessment I do plan on incorporating a modified results template for the special education students and the ELL students because the structure provided by the more specific template would help them write their journal as they take their notes during the inquiry activity. I will also review classroom rules and policies prior to conducting the experiment so that students are respectful and well-behaved when working on inquiry projects. These types of learning experiences require time to plan and to facilitate and but they enable to students to take ownership of their own learning. The students are required to fully understand the concepts that they are working with in order to design the experiment to test their hypothesis and then they need to make connections between collected data and findings. They then must use their data to back up their claims and to reject or confirm their original predictions. If the topic is based on student interest or relevant life experience then the results of their findings can change behavior or challenge their misconceptions about a concept so that they will change their initial mindset which can be difficult to change if the student does not go through the inquiry process and experience the aha moment. Experimental inquiry is a vital part of my instructional practice and the instructional struggles are very rewarding when the students are able to engage in critical thinking and feel the pride and satisfaction in conquering their learning goals at a higher level of thinking. Not all of the students are able to get there on their own but by working in collaborative groups most are able to successfully complete experimental inquiry process by building on the knowledge of others in their groups. Students then learn a strategy that will increase their academic performance for life.

Experimental Inquiry

References Marzano, R.J. & Brown, J.L. (2009) A handbook for the art & science of teaching. Alexandria Virginia: ASCD Marzano, R.J. (2009) Designing & teaching learning goals & objectives. Bloomington, IN Marzano Research Laboratory

Experimental Inquiry

APPENDIX 1 Score Rubric for Experimental Inquiry 4.0 The students will utilize the results (data) of their experimental inquiry to explain how their conclusions have changed their own behavior and relate their findings to real-world relevance In addition to score 3.0 performance partial success at score 4.0 content Students will be able to make and test a prediction using experimental inquiry about how caffeine will act as a stimulant on the body of teenagers No major errors or omissions regarding score 2.0 content, and partial success at score 3.0 content Students will be able to analyze and identify sources of error that affect the results of their experiment Partial success at score 2.0 content but major errors or omissions regarding score 3.0 content With help, partial success at score 2.0 content and score 3.0 content With help partial success at score 2.0 content but not at score 3.0 content Even with help, no success

3.5 3.0 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0

Experimental Inquiry

Experimental Design and Results Template 1. Pre-write ideas (terms, ideas, concepts, scientists, events, applications, data, procedures). You have minutes to do this. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20.

Discuss your responses with your group or class. Quickwrite a summary using some of your ideas. (5-10 minutes) EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN TEMPLATE: Lab TITLE: (The effect of on _____________________

HYPOTHESIS: Use an if/when... then... statement. State the cause & effect relationship between the IV and the DV. The hypothesis must be testable. INDEPENDENT VARIABLE: What is the cause agent? What are you changing? TRIALS AND EXPERIMENTAL GROUPS: The number of columns will vary depending on how many testing conditions exist in the experiment. DEPENDENT VARIABLE: (What is being measured?) CONTROL GROUP: (What is the experimental group being compared to?) EXPERIMENTAL CONSTANTS: (Variables not altered during the experiment SCIENCE JOURNAL: 1. Divide your paper in half.

Experimental Inquiry

2. On the left side, write an important finding or piece of data from lab or an idea from class. 3. On the right side, respond to the finding, data or idea. Your responses might include one or more of the list below. Asking a question Explaining why or how come I expect to see I was surprised to learn Reflection Making a personal connection Finding a real-world application Interpreting Analyzing My conclusion is that Some errors that may have affected my results were Now that I know this what are my next steps? This data supports my hypothesis because This supports my claim Reject or accept prediction and why OOPS

Topic or Lab Title: Important Idea or Lab Data 1 Student Response

Experimental Inquiry

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ANALYSIS
Using a paragraph format, include the following in your lab analysis. Paragraph 1: Purpose What concepts in experimental design were demonstrated in this lab? Hint: Did this investigation answer the research question adequately? Why or why not? Did this experiment have a control group? What was it? Paragraph 2: DATA INTERPRETATION (Level 2.0) According to your experimental results did caffeine increase, decrease or have no effect on heart rate? What evidence do you have to support your conclusions (use data from the lab)? What did the control group show? What evidence do you have from the graphs to support your conclusions? Did you support or fail to support your original hypothesis? Explain. (Remember to consider the caffeine content in each drink when you answer these questions). Paragraph 3: ERROR ANALYSIS (Level 3.0) Give two major sources of error in the data collection and how they affected the results. Explain your chain of reasoning for these results. How could you reduce these major sources of error? What variables were not controlled (sources of error)? For example, does it matter if the test subject is male or female? Paragraph 4: EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN (Level 4.0) How could you design a caffeine experiment to control these errors? Note the kind of equipment you might need to increase the accuracy. (Be specific and list the steps). Paragraph 5: HOW HAS MY THINKING CHANGED ABOUT THIS SITUATION (LEVEL 4.0)

Appendix 2