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2017 Research Showcase
BE Abstracts
Abstract Title : Understanding Studentsí Knowledge Frameworks about Biology Research
Abstract : One goal of engaging students in course-based research and inquiry experiences during a biology degree is for students to adopt scientific thinking behaviours and more expert-like knowledge structures about biology and research. Knowledge structures are ways of organizing information and experiences. For example, novice knowledge structures about research may be that research is the scientific method, whereas more sophisticated knowledge structures may include connections between data, questioning, and iteration with research. These behaviours and ways of thinking may be developed by engaging in scientific inquiry and research in laboratory courses. Word Association Tests are useful tools to map knowledge structures. This project aims to use word association tests to determine: 1) What knowledge structures do students have relating to scientific inquiry (research) when they enter into the biology program, and in upper division biology? 2) How do the course-based research experiences and inquiry lab experiences we offer change student knowledge structures? 3) How do the knowledge structures of experienced scientists compare to that of students? Data collected from more than 300 undergraduates engaging in either a course-based research experience (CURE) or an inquiry-style laboratory course (non-CURE) reveal varied knowledge structures that are particularly influenced by course-based research experiences. We also find very distinct differences between students and expert knowledge frameworks, particularly related to experimental design. Implications of these findings for teaching, design of CUREs, and understanding student thinking will be discussed. ADDITIONAL PRESENTER: Jake Sy.
Advisor : STANLEY LO
Abstract Title : Using social network analysis to examine small-group interactions in an academic setting
Abstract : As colleges continue to increase their student populations, group-based learning has received increasing attention. Many group-based learning strategies, such as Gateway Science Workshops, Peer-Led Team Learning, and Process Oriented Guided Inquiry, have been shown to improve student learning and persistence in science disciplines. However, how students interact in these groups has not been well characterized. Here, we apply mathematics developed for social network analysis to examine the dynamics of these groups. For example, we can use a parameter called network diameter to measure the overall cohesiveness of the group. By analyzing such statistical parameters, it may be possible to create methods for optimizing group dynamics, encouraging a more evenly-distributed involvement among students. A study conducted at Northwestern University in 2011 provided some preliminary data for early analysis. In exploring the group statistics from these data, for instance, it was found that centralized networks tended to have much lower densities than the densities of more relatively decentralized networks. These findings, along with other statistics, will be used as a baseline for what will be expected when student groups are studied at the University of California San Diego, where new parameters and factors, such as gender and group size, will be explored. ADDITIONAL PRESENTER: Albert Chai.
Advisor : STANLEY LO
Abstract Title : Engagement with biologist guest speakers in a course-based undergraduate research experience reduces scientist stereotypes held by students
Abstract : Students across age groups have biases about scientists and biologists, and these biases may influence their interests in pursuing further education in the biological sciences. The presence of scientist stereotypes in school children has been studied extensively using the Draw A Scientist Test (DAST), whereas analogous research on undergraduates is limited. This study examines changes in scientist stereotypes held by students as they engage with biologist guest speakers in an introductory course-based undergraduate research experience, using a quasi-experimental design with paired pre/post sets of DAST drawings. Some iterations of the course (experimental group) included guest speakers who are researchers from different fields of biological sciences. In other iterations (comparison group), students engaged in the same course without additional guest speakers. Students in the experimental group with guest speakers had an overall decrease in the number of stereotypical characteristic in their drawings. In contrast, students in the comparison group without guest speaker resulted in an increase in stereotypical components in the drawings. Together, our results indicate that engagement with researchers even simply as guest speakers can shift scientist stereotypes held by students. Our comparison group data also suggest that course-based undergraduate experiences alone may not be sufficient in challenging these stereotypes.