News & Events

  • In May, the City College held their Spring 2022 Science Education Master’s Symposium, which included the poster presentations described below.

    2022 Mater's Symposium

    How Students Understand Change: Students’ Natural Selection Misconceptions
    By Mahreen Ashiq
    To better understand students’ natural selection misconceptions, I administered six open-ended pre/post assessment questions about natural selection to a ninth grade “Living Environment” class (written, n=10; interview n=3). Analysis of responses revealed that most students credit the appearance of new traits to an organism’s need for survival rather than to random mutation and differential survival and reproduction. Furthermore, students failed to recognize pre-existing variation within individuals in a population and instead thought variation appeared in response to survival needs. Students also thought individuals rather than populations were the units of evolution. In addition, students identified inheritance of acquired traits as a main driving force for natural selection. Instructional strategies were moderately successful in correcting some of these misconceptions, but posttest data showed the continued high frequency of students considering evolution as purposeful.

    How Do Lessons Designed to Foster Vocabulary Mastery Impact Student Learning of Food Webs?
    By Durica Nikolic
    A large number of scientific terms makes reading, understanding, and communicating scientific information a challenge for English language learners (ELLs).  This study investigates how lessons designed to foster vocabulary mastery impact ELL learning of food webs. A pre/ posttest was distributed to 30 students that were assigned regular instruction or instruction that included vocabulary mastery activities. Responses to Likert-type survey items, multiple choice questions, and open-ended questions indicate that vocabulary represents a barrier to students’ success in a science class. In addition, the vocabulary strategy treatment group showed a greater improvement on posttests than the group that received regular instruction. These findings suggest that teachers should incorporate vocabulary strategies into their lesson planning.

    What Are Common Misconceptions about Newton’s Laws of Motion Among Middle and High School Students?
    By Mordecai Segal
    Students bring into the physics classrooms misconceptions based on their life experiences. Through in-depth interviews, this study examines common misconceptions about Newton’s Laws of Motion among middle and high school students (n=6). Based on misconceptions previously identified in college students, six secondary students were given a set of prompts tailored to focus on specific misconceptions of Newton’s Laws. Findings show that high school students tended to have the same misconceptions, while middle school students held more varied misconceptions. The most common misconceptions indicated fundamental flaws in student understanding of objects moving at a constant speed.

    Assessing 4th Grade Student Thinking about Fossil Formation
    By Denise Aikens
    This research focuses on 4th grade student thinking about fossil formation and the relationship between fossil rocks and organisms. To study student learning, assessments were administered before and after a hands-on instructional intervention about fossil formation. Pre/post assessment results indicate that after the intervention the majority of students were able to describe the steps of fossil formation and were able to apply these steps to the formation of dinosaur fossils from dinosaur bones. However, additional work is needed for students to overcome the misconceptions that the term fossils is synonymous with dinosaurs. Visualizing fossil formation for other types of organisms, both animals and plants, was still difficult for the students.

    How Do Inquiry-Based and Direct Instruction-Based Pedagogy Compare for How They Impact Student Learning and Engagement?
    By Isaac Auslander
    Two common approaches to science education are inquiry-based instruction (IBI) and direct-instruction (DI). In this study, the same content was taught to two groups of Living Environment students. One group was taught using IBI, the other group using DI. A pre/post assessment was used to determine the impact of teaching style on student learning and engagement. The results illustrate that DI was more effective at raising student’s surface level understanding of the content; however, IBI was more effective at increasing student’s ability to apply conceptual knowledge to complicated, real world situations. Both approaches had similar impacts on student engagement.

    Sweet Sweat: Examining Student Misconceptions of Perspiration
    By Bracha Cohen
    This research focuses on student understanding of perspiration before and after an instructional intervention. Results were analyzed according to the Components, Mechanisms, Phenomenon model and were consistent with general findings that students do not naturally relate learned scientific phenomena to specific science topics. Pre-test results indicate that students were able to identify sweat’s cooling properties but were unable to explain how sweat works. During the intervention, many students related the phenomenon of evaporative cooling to the topic of perspiration. Post tests show that all students successfully learned the function of sweat and almost half of students were able to explain how evaporative cooling relates to sweat’s function. These results are significant because scientific literacy requires students to transfer knowledge of phenomena between systems. Implications for how to teach students phenomena in a way to enhance knowledge transferences are described.

    How Do Biological Examples Impact Student Learning of Acid-Base Chemistry?
    By James Irizarry
    Students in a high school chemistry class were assessed on whether biological examples could facilitate student understanding of the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation. They were given a pre-test to measure a baseline understanding, an intervention to learn how pH impacts the absorption of medicine in biological systems, and a post-test to determine to what degree student understanding had changed after the intervention. The analysis shows that using medicinal chemistry as an example of acid-base chemistry greatly enhanced student ability to solve for variables in the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation. Interestingly, students displayed greater competency in solving for the ionization ratio, as opposed to pH.

    The Effectiveness of Group Work For Explaining and Understanding Vaccines
    By Darryl McGill
    Some consider group work to be the gold standard for learning. It is used to increase social skills, deepen student understanding, and advance academic achievement. However, recently there have been studies showing that group work is not as effective as traditional lectures for learning. To compare the effectiveness of group work and traditional lecture on student learning, two ninth grade classes (n=62) learned about vaccines using either group work or traditional lecture and completed pre/post tests before and after learning. Findings show little difference in student learning between the group work and lecture-based groups. The average score for how vaccines confer immunity was 69% for traditional lecture students compared to 64% for students who engaged in group work and the average score for explaining antigen, antibody and pathogen correctly was 69% for the lecture group and 66% for the group work students.

    Laboratories or Lectures? Which Mode of Instruction Is Most Beneficial for Students with Learning-Disabilities?
    By Ian Frawley
    In a school for learning disabilities, two six grade classes were studied to understand the comparative impact of lab activities and lectures on student learning. Both classes participated in an in an introductory lesson on fossils and archeology, but one class was taught with lab activities and the other was taught through an interactive lecture. After completing pre/post tests, the averages of both classes showed that the class that participated in the lab activity learned more. Areas of content that improved were key term understanding and understanding what fossils can tell archeologists about the Earth’s past.

    What Do Students Interpret from Velocity Versus Time Graphs?
    By Joseph Quinones
    Graphs are important because they represent and communicate information. Although students are exposed to graphs in multiple academic subjects, they often have difficulties interpreting the information embedded in them. My research focuses on student interpretation of velocity versus time graphs before and after doing an activity that allowed them to physically connect to the physics concepts the graphs illustrate. Pre/post tests show that after completing this activity students perform better on interpretation of slope velocity, acceleration, distance, and decreasing/negative quantities. Post activity students seemed to understand changes in velocity and acceleration, but they still seem to struggle to communicate the overall stories told by the data represented on the graphs.

    How Do Bridge Designs Compare Between Students Who Build Bridges With and Without Engineering Design Scaffolds?
    By Amanda Ramsammy
    This research focused on whether engineering design scaffolds that requires students to build prototypes can help students develop effective design solutions. Students in two different groups were given the task of making a DIY (do it yourself) bridge with and without a design scaffold that required students to build a bridge prototype. Each group was then assessed on bridge design effectiveness by measuring bridge stability, design plan, and design execution. Results demonstrate that exposing students to an engineering design scaffold that requires them to build a prototype bridge helped students develop more effective bridge designs.

  • Science Learning & Public Engagement News & Events
  • School of Education News & Events

Last Updated: 06/02/2022 09:11