Capstone/Dissertation Title

How Context and Story Matter in Science Instruction

Term

Fall 12-15-2015

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAED: NSEE

Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Karen Moroz

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

John Olson

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Charles Farrow

Abstract

The research question addressed is, will the use of story in science education help improve student learning? The motivation for investigating this question was the author’s focus on story and context over the past several years in his 7th and 10th grade life science classrooms and his desire to test the efficacy of this approach using a small, but scalable, test instrument. The study utilized one lesson based on a reading of the carbon cycle. The control group was given a text-based format, the experimental group a story-based format. Pre- and post- assessments along with survey questions were used to gauge change in knowledge acquisition as well as collect motivational and anecdotal data. Primary inspiration for this study was Clyde Herreid’s Start with a Story – the Case Study Method of Teaching College Science (2007). Evavold makes an argument for pedagogical reflection and improvements in light of criticisms of international standings in science assessments and declining pursuit of science careers. Despite a lack of significant evidence to support the use of story in this limited way, the author does find some evidence to support the hypothesis that the use of story and context can bear fruit and should be included in a suite of approaches when educating and exciting our young people in science.

Research Methodology

Action Research

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