Date of Award

1991

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Ron Good

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the instructional effects of incorporating prediction activities in a high school biology genetics curriculum. Criteria for instructional effectiveness included enhanced levels of classroom discussion and interaction, improved subject-related attitude, higher achievement motivation, and greater mastery of genetics concepts. Genetics was chosen as the domain of research because of the multiple variables operating which make it amenable to the making of predictions. Four experienced high school biology teachers taught an experimental and a control class. Students in the experimental classes made written predictions using researcher-developed prediction activities as an introduction to 19 genetics topics. Experimental students were encouraged to discuss their predictions about the mechanisms of inheritance and to justify the rationale they used in making them. The experimental and control classes were taught similarly except for the introductory prediction activities. The study employed both quantitative and qualitative analyses of the treatment and its effects on instructional outcomes. Quantitative measures included pre- and posttests for genetics achievement, attitude toward science, and achievement motivation. Qualitative descriptions comparing and contrasting the experimental and control groups on levels of interest and participation were completed by the four teachers and by independent observers in the classrooms. Interviews were conducted with the teachers and randomly selected students at the completion of the study. An analysis of the quantitative data revealed no statistically significant differences between the control and experimental classes on any of the quantitative measures. A significant positive correlation was shown between attitude toward science and achievement motivation for both groups. The triangulated quantitative and qualitative data indicated that significant teacher effects occurred. Two of the four teachers experienced positive changes in their teaching styles. They were described as asking more open-ended questions to elicit student predictions in the experimental classes. Though the quantitative results revealed no significant differences between the experimental and control classes, the qualitative data strongly supported that making predictions promoted critical thinking and enhanced student interest and motivation evidenced by augmented classroom participation.

Pages

330

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