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Full-Text Articles in Education

Assessing Quantitative Reasoning In A Ninth Grade Science Class Using Interdisciplinary Data Story Assignments, Bryn W. Keenhold May 2019

Assessing Quantitative Reasoning In A Ninth Grade Science Class Using Interdisciplinary Data Story Assignments, Bryn W. Keenhold

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

In a data-driven world, it is necessary that students graduate from high school quantitatively literate, with the ability to interpret quantities within a context to make informed decisions for their lives. A critical component of science learning is developing the ability to make sense of data, critically evaluate it, and effectively communicate scientific ideas. The purpose of this study is two-fold: 1) to investigate how 9th grade students in an Earth Science class use quantitative reasoning (QR) skills when constructing evidence-based scientific explanations during Data Story assignments and 2) to provide teachers with supports to incorporate Data Stories into their ...


A Granular Account Of Student's Understanding Reasoning Within An Everyday And Scientific Contexts, Grace M. Gonnella Aug 2018

A Granular Account Of Student's Understanding Reasoning Within An Everyday And Scientific Contexts, Grace M. Gonnella

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Teachers and educational researchers in the Maine Physical Sciences Partnership (Maine PSP) at the University of Maine identified making quality scientific arguments as a struggle for students. Not only is argumentation hard, but reasoning is the hardest component of an argument. Many frameworks have been developed to target teaching about argumentation but do not address how to teach one component of an argument in isolation. Educational practitioners encourage using everyday context to learn about arguments in the scientific context, but there is limited support in what is the best method. The first purpose of this research was to understand a ...


Understanding Student Development Of Science Literacy Skills In An Undergraduate Environmental Science Course, Molly Picillo Aug 2018

Understanding Student Development Of Science Literacy Skills In An Undergraduate Environmental Science Course, Molly Picillo

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Educators are expected to instill a variety of skills in their students that are necessary to be competent citizens of society. One such set of skills, science literacy skills, broadly encompass the ability of an individual to evaluate reliability of data and information and critically analyze and interpret them (Gormally Brickman, Hallar, & Armstrong, 2009). These skills are utilized in everyday decision-making and given their pertinence, there is a need for citizens to be scientifically literate. Thus, educators need tools and assessments to help students develop these skills and analyze their science literacy. The aim of this study was to develop science literacy interventions that could be easily incorporated into college curricula, providing instructors with exemplars of classroom interventions with the intent to improve students’ science literacy skills. Therefore, the broad research question for this investigation was: How do science literacy interventions impact student proficiency in science literacy skills in college general education courses? I measured effectiveness of the interventions using the Test of Science Literacy Skills (TOSLS, Gormally Brickman, & Lutz, 2012) pre- and post-survey scores, as well as student feedback from pre- and post-survey, follow-up interviews. The TOSLS surveys were given as part of a participation grade to students in a general education undergraduate college course (n = 148). A subset of students volunteered to be interviewed regarding specific questions from the TOSLS survey, after both the pre-survey (n = 12) and the post-survey (n = 5), to further investigate student understanding and interpretation. Interventions were designed by modifying previous assignments from earlier years’ offerings of the class and were conducted both during class and outside of class as homework extensions. These interventions were created by evaluating scores and interviews on the TOSLS survey deployed as a pilot study in a previous semester of the undergraduate course. Based on these pilot data, four survey questions encompassing different science literacy skills of particular difficulty were targeted for intervention. The interventions were: (1) An interactive clicker-based lesson involving graph selection methods; (2) Data summits involving graph interpretation and source evaluation; and (3) A role-play after which students discussed sources of bias.

Although the results indicated no statistically significant changes in the average scores between the pre-survey and post-survey (t test, p = 0.82, α = 0.05), interviewed students recalled ...


Investigating Student Understanding Of Vector Calculus In Upper-Division Electricity And Magnetism: Construction And Determination Of Differential Element In Non-Cartesian Coordinate Systems, Benjamin Schermerhorn May 2018

Investigating Student Understanding Of Vector Calculus In Upper-Division Electricity And Magnetism: Construction And Determination Of Differential Element In Non-Cartesian Coordinate Systems, Benjamin Schermerhorn

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Differential length, area, and volume elements appear ubiquitously over the course of upper-division electricity and magnetism (E&M), used to sum the effects of or determine expressions for electric or magnetic fields. Given the plethora of tasks with spherical and cylindrical symmetry, non-Cartesian coordinates are commonly used, which include scaling factors as coefficients for the differential terms to account for the curvature of space. Furthermore, the application to vector fields means differential lengths and areas are vector quantities. So far, little of the education research in E&M has explored student understanding and construction of the non-Cartesian differential elements used in applications of vector calculus. This study contributes to the research base on the learning and teaching of these quantities.

Following course observations of junior-level E&M, targeted investigations were conducted to categorize student understanding of the properties of these differentials as they are constructed in a coordinate system without a physics context and as they are determined within common physics tasks. In general, students did not have a strong understanding of the geometry of non-Cartesian coordinate systems. However, students who were able to construct differential area and volume elements as a product of differential lengths within a given coordinate system were more successful when applying vector calculus. The results of this study were used to develop preliminary instructional resources to aid in the teaching of this material.

Lastly, this dissertation presents a theoretical model developed within the context of this study to describe students’ construction and interpretation of equations. The model joins existing theoretical frameworks: symbolic forms, used to describe students’ representational understanding of the structure of the constructed equation; and conceptual blending, which has been used to describe the ways in which students combine mathematics and physics knowledge when problem solving. In addition to providing a coherent picture for how the students in this study connect contextual information to symbolic representations, this model is broadly applicable as an analytical lens and allows for a detailed reinterpretation of similar analyses using these frameworks.


Echoes Of The Past: The Effect Of Background Experience On Far Transfer, Graham H. Hummel-Hall May 2018

Echoes Of The Past: The Effect Of Background Experience On Far Transfer, Graham H. Hummel-Hall

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Far transfer is the application of knowledge learned in one setting to a problem in a very different setting. This multi-method study looked at far transfer in humans and whether it could be facilitated, inhibited, or remain unaffected by the number of courses or years a student at a university spent learning about the subject matter of the knowledge being transferred. Through quantitative and qualitative analysis of pretest and post-test data from an introductory undergraduate earth science course, I found that students with more physical science background experience more frequently engaged in successful and accurate transfer of physics information to ...


Deciphering Climate-Driven Changes In Planktonic Diatom Communities In Lake Superior, Amy Kireta May 2018

Deciphering Climate-Driven Changes In Planktonic Diatom Communities In Lake Superior, Amy Kireta

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Climate change is affecting lake systems throughout the world, including Lake Superior, the world’s largest lake by surface area. Climate-driven physical changes in Lake Superior are well documented, but there is still substantial uncertainty of how recent biological changes are related to climate change. This research addresses these uncertainties using a variety of approaches to understand the effects of modern climate-driven changes on Lake Superior diatom communities. First, I developed models for environmental variables related to diatom abundance using 10 years of summer monitoring data. Second, I investigated changes in fossilized diatom relative abundances before, during, and after the ...


Assessing Student Understanding Of Reasoning Using Argument-Based Contrast Matrices, Ethan Geheb Apr 2018

Assessing Student Understanding Of Reasoning Using Argument-Based Contrast Matrices, Ethan Geheb

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

There is strong national interest in increasing student proficiency in STEM, which includes the learning and practice of scientific argumentation. The codevelopment of scientific knowledge and argumentation has shown to positively influence student general understanding of argument construction, scientific knowledge and principles. Research indicates students continue to struggle with constructing complete arguments, with specific difficulty in correctly incorporating reasoning. Numerous frameworks have been developed to support student learning about argumentation. These frameworks contain common teaching strategies for introducing and teaching reasoning within the context of a science classroom. However, these strategies do not specifically target student struggle with using reasoning ...


Contrast Dependent Knowledge Development In Contrast Supported Scientific Observation, Maura B. Foley Aug 2017

Contrast Dependent Knowledge Development In Contrast Supported Scientific Observation, Maura B. Foley

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Knowledge of contrasts between phenomena can influence how people think and reason about them, so learning contrasts is important in school science. Building knowledge through a process of construction is a common framework through which school science is taught. However, telling phenomena apart through differentiation also plays an important role in learning and may be underused as a teaching framework. An effective way to learn contrasts is to use them to perceptually differentiate similar-looking phenomena presented side-by-side. However, little is known about the persistence/usefulness of knowledge generated during perceptual differentiation over short periods of time and its usage in ...


Investigating Student Mental Models At The Intersection Of Mathematics And Physical Reasoning In Physics, Savannah E. Lodge-Scharff Aug 2017

Investigating Student Mental Models At The Intersection Of Mathematics And Physical Reasoning In Physics, Savannah E. Lodge-Scharff

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

A significant challenge in learning science and mathematics is coordinating different types of mental models, such as mathematical and physical mental models, that represent different aspects of a given phenomenon. This challenge is illustrated in the present study, in which we observed a small number of college students reasoning about forces as both physical and mathematical quantities as they reasoned about a physical system. Using video analysis of the students’ gesture and as they reasoned qualitatively and mathematically about the system, we documented the construction and coordination of participants’ mental models. We found that participants constructed mathematical mental models as ...


Using Contrasting Cases To Build Metacognitive Knowledge About The Impact Of Salient Distracting Features In Physics Problems, Thanh K. Le Aug 2017

Using Contrasting Cases To Build Metacognitive Knowledge About The Impact Of Salient Distracting Features In Physics Problems, Thanh K. Le

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Student reasoning on physics problems is often context dependent. A possible explanation is that salient distracting features (SDFs) in physics problems may cue students’ “spontaneous” reasoning. This cued reasoning is often accepted without question, even though it may be unproductive and may even preclude the use of relevant knowledge. One possible approach to address such reasoning difficulties is to strengthen students’ metacognitive skills, particularly their metacognitive knowledge. While metacognitive knowledge plays an important role in facilitating effective regulation, little is known about how to build student metacognitive knowledge. This dissertation explores the use of contrasting cases (e.g., a number ...


Assessing Students' Understanding Of Variability And Graph Interpretation Through An Authentic Science Investigation, William M. Schlager May 2017

Assessing Students' Understanding Of Variability And Graph Interpretation Through An Authentic Science Investigation, William M. Schlager

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

This thesis research combined efforts of two existing projects at the University of Maine in collaboration with the Schoodic Institute, the Acadia Learning Snowpack Project and the Maine Data Literacy Project. The Snowpack Project provided a context to explore student learning of variability and graphing skills by gathering data on snowfall and accumulation throughout the winter and using the data to ask and answer a scientific question. The Maine Data Literacy Project provided a framework and instruments for assessing students’ understanding of variability and graph interpretation skills.

The first goal of this research was to measure student learning about variability ...


Investigating Student Learning Of Analog Electronics, Kevin L. Van De Bogart May 2017

Investigating Student Learning Of Analog Electronics, Kevin L. Van De Bogart

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Instruction in analog electronics is an integral component of many physics and engineering programs, and is typically covered in courses beyond the first year. While extensive research has been conducted on student understanding of introductory electric circuits, to date there has been relatively little research on student learning of analog electronics in either physics or engineering courses. Given the significant overlap in content of courses offered in both disciplines, this study seeks to strengthen the research base on the learning and teaching of electric circuits and analog electronics via a single, coherent investigation spanning both physics and engineering courses.

This ...


Development Of An Active-Learning Lesson That Targets Student Understanding Of Population Growth In Ecology, Elizabeth Trenckmann May 2017

Development Of An Active-Learning Lesson That Targets Student Understanding Of Population Growth In Ecology, Elizabeth Trenckmann

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Integrating quantitative literacy skills into the undergraduate biology curriculum has been advocated as a way to better reflect the tools and practices used by scientists. One area where students often need and can develop quantitative skills is population ecology, and previous studies have shown that students often have conceptual difficulties in this area. The focus of this thesis project was to explore student thinking about population ecology and develop an in-class active-learning lesson that incorporates quantitative skills for use in large-enrollment undergraduate biology courses. The development of this lesson was guided by in depth reviews of literature, textbooks, and online ...


Discussion In Middle And High School Earth Science Classrooms And Its Impact On Students' Abilities To Construct Evidence-Based Arguments In Their Written Work, Rachel Martin Aug 2016

Discussion In Middle And High School Earth Science Classrooms And Its Impact On Students' Abilities To Construct Evidence-Based Arguments In Their Written Work, Rachel Martin

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Middle and high school teachers who participate in the Maine Physical Sciences Partnership (MainePSP) noted persistent problems in their classrooms, including low levels of student engagement and gaps in how students use evidence. To address these problems, this study was designed in collaboration with MainePSP teachers in a design-based implementation research process as teachers aimed to better connect classroom discussion and written argumentation. Though scientific writing makes use of argumentation to support ideas, it is often the sharing of ideas that makes an argument stronger.

Two teachers collected data from their seventh and ninth grade Earth Science classrooms at schools ...


Calculus Students' Reasoning About Slope And Derivative As Rates Of Change, Jennifer G. Tyne Aug 2016

Calculus Students' Reasoning About Slope And Derivative As Rates Of Change, Jennifer G. Tyne

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Students’ low success rates in college calculus courses are a factor that leads to high attrition rates from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degree programs. To help reach our nation’s goal of one million additional STEM majors in the next decade, we must address the conceptual difficulties of our students. Studies have shown that students have difficulty with the concepts of slope and derivative, especially in cases when students are asked to utilize these concepts in real-life contexts.

For this study, written surveys were collected from 69 differential (first semester) calculus students. Follow-up clinical interviews were performed on ...


Inconsistent Conceptions Of Acceleration Contributing To Formative Assessment Limitations, Gregory D. Kranich May 2016

Inconsistent Conceptions Of Acceleration Contributing To Formative Assessment Limitations, Gregory D. Kranich

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education has become a national priority in light of measures indicating marginal student interest and success in the United States. Just as evidence is integral to policy decisions, so too do teachers depend on evidence to inform instructional choices. Classroom assessment remains a touchstone means of gathering such evidence as indicators of students’ progress, and increasingly, teachers are designing, implementing, and interpreting assessments in collaboration with one another.

In rural Maine, the work of the Maine Physical Sciences Partnership (MainePSP) has enabled science educators to come together as a supportive professional community. We focused ...


Thinking Beyond The Fried Egg Model: How Accurately Do Students Perceive Cells In A Living Context?, Milissa Knox Dec 2015

Thinking Beyond The Fried Egg Model: How Accurately Do Students Perceive Cells In A Living Context?, Milissa Knox

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

This exploratory study investigated three aspects of introductory undergraduate biology students’ understanding about cells. The study, which took place at the University of Maine with voluntary students in Basic Biology (“BIO100”) in the summer and fall of 2009, examined (1) students’ pre-course perceptions of cells as they exist in a living context and (2) gains in students’ perception and knowledge about cells after completing the one-semester course (BIO100). Results are based on lecture exam scores, pre-post surveys developed as a part of this thesis, and interviews with two groups of biology students. A total of 498 students participated in the ...


Investigating Teachers' Content Knowledge And Pedogogical Content Knowledge In A Middle School Physical Science Curriculum On Force And Motion, Daniel Patrick Laverty Dec 2015

Investigating Teachers' Content Knowledge And Pedogogical Content Knowledge In A Middle School Physical Science Curriculum On Force And Motion, Daniel Patrick Laverty

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Teaching is a profession that requires the incorporation of many types of knowledge in order to create effective instructional experiences that promote student learning. Teachers need to blend their knowledge of the content with the methods for delivering that content and an understanding of their students' thinking. With increasing concern in the United States over student achievement in science and mathematics, there is ongoing discussion about which elements of teacher knowledge most directly correlate with effective instruction. How do specific strands of teacher knowledge blend to influence student learning outcomes? This study explores the roles of teacher content knowledge (CK ...


An Inventory Of Student Recollections Of Their Past Misconceptions As A Tool For Improved Classroom Astronomy Instruction, Andrej Favia Aug 2014

An Inventory Of Student Recollections Of Their Past Misconceptions As A Tool For Improved Classroom Astronomy Instruction, Andrej Favia

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

My Ph.D. research is about examining the persistence of 215 common misconceptions in astronomy. Each misconception is based on an often commonlyheld incorrect belief by college students taking introductory astronomy. At the University of Maine, the course is taught in alternating semesters by Prof. Neil F. Comins and Prof. David J. Batuski.

In this dissertation, I examine the persistence of common astronomy misconceptions by the administration of a retrospective survey. The survey is a new instrument in that it permits the student to indicate either endorsement or rejection of each misconception at various stages in the student’s life ...


Student Application Of The Fundamental Theorem Of Calculus With Graphical Representations In Mathematics And Physics, Rabindra R. Bajracharya Aug 2014

Student Application Of The Fundamental Theorem Of Calculus With Graphical Representations In Mathematics And Physics, Rabindra R. Bajracharya

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

One mathematical concept frequently applied in physics is the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus (FTC). Mathematics education research on student understanding of the FTC indicates student difficulties with the FTC. Similarly, a few studies in physics education have implicitly indicated student difficulties with various facets of the FTC, such as with the definite integral and the area under the curve representation, in physics contexts. There has been no research on how students apply the FTC in graphically-based physics questions.

This study investigated student understanding of the FTC and its application to graphically-based problems. Our interest spans several aspects of the FTC ...


Identifying Productive Resources In Secondary School Students' Discourse About Energy, Benedikt Walter Harrer Dec 2013

Identifying Productive Resources In Secondary School Students' Discourse About Energy, Benedikt Walter Harrer

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

A growing program of research in science education acknowledges the beginnings of disciplinary reasoning in students’ ideas and seeks to inform instruction that responds productively to these disciplinary progenitors in the moment to foster their development into sophisticated scientific practice. This dissertation examines secondary school students’ ideas about energy for progenitors of disciplinary knowledge and practice. Previously, researchers argued that students’ ideas about energy were constrained by stable and coherent conceptual structures that conflicted with an assumed unified scientific conception and therefore needed to be replaced. These researchers did not attend to the productive elements in students’ ideas about energy ...


Students' Epistemological Beliefs Of Mathematics When Taught Using Traditional Versus Reform Curricula In Rural Maine High Schools, Glenn T. Colby Jan 2007

Students' Epistemological Beliefs Of Mathematics When Taught Using Traditional Versus Reform Curricula In Rural Maine High Schools, Glenn T. Colby

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

This study compared students’ epistemological beliefs of mathematics after completing 3 years of a reform-oriented curriculum developed by the Core-Plus Mathematics Project (CPMP) versus a more traditional curriculum developed by Glencoe Mathematics. The Conceptions of Mathematics Inventory (CMI; Grouws, Howald, & Colangelo, 1996) was administered to 11th-grade students in four rural Maine high schools (n=102) to measure student beliefs of mathematics. CPMP was used as the primary textbook series in 2 of the schools, while the other 2 schools used Glencoe Mathematics. A variation of the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP; Piburn & Sawada, 2000) and teacher questionnaires were used to characterize the level of reform-oriented instruction occurring in each of the schools. The results indicated that the students who were taught using the traditional curriculum combined with reform-oriented teaching practices expressed the most positive beliefs of mathematics, while the students who were taught using the reform-oriented curriculum expressed less healthy beliefs ...


A Middle School Standards-Based Science Curriculum Handbook, Eleanor B. Hess Dec 2005

A Middle School Standards-Based Science Curriculum Handbook, Eleanor B. Hess

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

As teachers implement the National Science Education Standards (1996) many must change the instructional methods they have used throughout their careers. This handbook will assist teachers to be facilitators in inquiry-based classrooms. The nine units of this handbook have been implemented for three years in an eighth grade classroom and have been used and modified by three different teachers to meet their own needs. The units in this handbook were chosen by MSAD #3, Unity, Maine, to reflect the curriculum requirements of The State of Maine Learning Results (1997). Included in this handbook are physics units covering motion, forces, work ...


Grading The General Chemistry Laboratory: A Constructivist Approach., Barbara Stewart Jan 2001

Grading The General Chemistry Laboratory: A Constructivist Approach., Barbara Stewart

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Constructivist theories of learning posit that instructors cannot transfer their knowledge to students; students must actively construct their own understanding. The Inter-Chem-Net project uses technology and instrumentation to provide an individualized experience within the large general laboratory course, effectively establishing a constructivist methodology. A grading rubric was developed to communicate course expectations and provide an easy and reliable method of evaluating student work in the general chemistry laboratory. The grading rubric separates the learning outcomes into a checklist of skills associated with each particular grade. This checklist provides detailed feedback for individualized choices of experiments, a key component of the ...