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Emily Irwin CEP 806 Fall 2012.  Teaching experience:  I have worked with seventh and ninth grade biology students who are working on science fair projects.

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Presentation on theme: "Emily Irwin CEP 806 Fall 2012.  Teaching experience:  I have worked with seventh and ninth grade biology students who are working on science fair projects."— Presentation transcript:

1 Emily Irwin CEP 806 Fall 2012

2  Teaching experience:  I have worked with seventh and ninth grade biology students who are working on science fair projects for the last 2 years.  Science Fair Observations:  Students struggle to design original science fair projects because of lack of research experience  Students resort to retesting a science fair project that was found on the Internet

3  Goal for school year:  Understand their initial Internet research knowledge, skills and experiences  Understand their struggles in Internet research in order to improve instruction  Through improved Internet research skills, students will be able to design original science fair projects and fully understand their topic

4  Internet skills to be assessed prior to Science Fair work:  Knowledge of online databases  Knowledge of reliable Internet resources (.com’s vs..org’s)  Understanding of scientific language  How searches are conducted  Where searches are conducted

5  Students find a general science fair category that interests them, i.e. Botany, and then search for “Botany Science Fair Projects” on search engines.  Students use the Internet resource that is the easiest to understand rather than the most accurate  Students are looking for a quick answer and don’t have experience with the process of compiling data during research.  Students aren’t familiar with what websites or resources are more or less reliable.  Students haven’t had experience with completing each step of the scientific method on their own without the overall purpose or experiment provided.

6  The Chicago Public Schools Science Fair is very common in elementary schools where students test consumer products or replicate previous science fair projects  Students have not had to conduct scientific research at a high school level yet  Students look for the fastest response to the answer they are looking for and overlook the reliability of their resource

7  Students:  31 8 th grade biology students in a gifted program at a selective enrollment high school ▪ Students are admitted based on their standardized test scores and admissions test ▪ Not all students have an interest in science or same background in science  Students are taking blended 9 th and 10 th grade honors curriculum  Students are designing a science fair project for the school science fair in December

8  Importance:  The process of the scientific method should be practiced when designing original science fair projects  Students don’t have enough experience with scientific research, so students tend to replicate old projects  Knowledge of Internet use will be increasingly important as they continue through high school  Weaknesses in Internet use must be recorded in order to improve instruction

9  Pre-assessment:  All 31 students were asked to take an online survey on our Edmodo classroom discussion page ▪ Students could not see each others answers ▪ Responses were not anonymous so that I could connect in class observations of students to their online answers

10  Pre-assessment questions: ▪ Age ▪ Sources of Internet at home ▪ Based on your experience researching for assignments in science class, what are the best resources to use? ▪ If we were to write a review of literature for The Raisin Lab, what are some topics we should research? List the words you would use to search for research on the Internet. ▪ When searching for information on the Internet, what makes a good resource? In other words, how do you select the best search results that are presented on a Google search? ▪ When searching for information on the Internet, what makes a poor resource? In other words, what search results presented on a Google search do you avoid?

11  In class observations:  Students had their own laptops to use in class to research their topic for four consecutive days  During the research time period I was able to walk around, record observations on the way that they research material and ask them to explain how they found different resources

12  Question: What are the best resources to use?  7 out of 31 students mentioned that websites that end in “.gov” “.org” or “.edu” are the most reliable  14 out of 31 students mentioned that they still consider books to be the most reliable for scientific research  Some students mentioned that reliable resources can be determined by the author:  Author should not be endorsing a program or product (bias)  Article citations are an indicator of reliable resources  3 out of 31 students said that Wikipedia is a good resource for scientific research  Students seem to be much more critical with determining reliability of online resources, but did not clarify what makes a good printed (book) resource.

13  How students use search engines:  Students were asked to list words they would use to search for information relating to their Raisin Lab which involves a chemical reaction between vinegar and baking soda ▪ 6 out of the 31 students provided search words that would result in useful information ▪ These students searched for information that showed an interaction between key words in the lab. ▪ Example: “make up of baking soda”, “chemical reaction between vinegar and baking soda” ▪ The majority of the other students used only one word in their searches ▪ Example: “Raisin” “Vinegar” “Baking soda” “chemical reaction”

14  Selecting a good resource from a Google search  This question lead to a variety in responses: ▪ One student said “the first result after the Wikipedia link is probably the most reliable” ▪ Several students said to avoid resources that appear at the end of a search result, or beyond “page 3” of results ▪ Another student said if the information they were looking for didn’t appear in the first paragraph, they looked for another

15  Teacher observations of in class research:  Students can identify reliable resources, but they don’t have the skills to find them in Google searches  When circulating around the room, many students started their search with “Science fair projects on…”  Some students still searched with one word, while many were typing in whole sentences into the search engine  If the reading level was challenging, they automatically ruled it out  Make students were reading Wikipedia to understand topics in science that were confusing

16  A key challenge to students finding and using Internet information is their lack of skills relating to HOW to conduct a search  As data showed, many students didn’t try to search for a relationship among terms in the Raisin Lab  My students seem to have knowledge on how to determine the reliability of resources, but what they consider “reliable” tends to be at a more difficult reading level  Students want responses quickly and easy to understand (tend to answer their questions using Wikipedia)  Students seem to still find books useful for research, but they don’t seem to know how to identify them as being reliable

17  What is the research background that students have before eighth grade?  Do they mainly use books or electronic resources?  What types of assignments do they need to research for?  What were the guidelines for identifying “reliable resources” from their previous teachers  How can students see the connection between science fair research for their projects and scientific research in professional laboratories?

18  Initial thoughts:  Students are struggling with determining what makes a good resource  Students rely more on Internet information rather than information in books or magazines  Final thoughts:  After reading the survey responses and watching them work in class, an issue that needs to be addressed is how to use a search engine. ▪ Students aren’t using the right combination of words, or scientific terms, to produce resources that would be more beneficial ▪ Struggles in research section of science fair project could be linked to students not finding the information that they need, so they resort to “.com” websites, discussion boards, Wikis or blogs.

19  In the future, prior to starting science fair projects, students need more practice with conducting Internet searches  Instead of using the Raisin Lab for lab technique and scientific method review, place more emphasis on the “Research” section so students have experience with Internet resources  Observe how students read Internet information and provide tips on how to make connections to their reading or make annotations.


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