An investigation of secondary students' engagement in a science inquiry through a student–scientist partnership

Lasen, Michelle, Jackson, Clifford, Beavan, Amy, Johnson, Bryn, and Callin, Robert (2014) An investigation of secondary students' engagement in a science inquiry through a student–scientist partnership. In: Presentations from the International Conference of STEM in Education. From: STEM 2014: International Conference of STEM in Education, 12-15 July 2014, Vancouver, BC, Canada. (Unpublished)

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In 2011, Year 9 science extension students at a regional Australian secondary school participated in a 'full scientific inquiry' (US National Academy of Sciences, 2000), wherein they undertook plant growth trials to investigate the capacity of biochar, a fine-grained charcoal, to enhance the nutrient quality of compost. The inquiry was planned and guided by their teacher and a scientist, who aimed to afford high-performing, junior secondary students an opportunity to work alongside a 'real scientist' and experience the 'thinking and doing of science' (Hume & Coll, 2010). Qualitative data emanating from semi-structured interviews with nine students, as well as the teacher and scientist, revealed high levels of student engagement in the inquiry focus, given potential benefits of biochar as a combined system for soil improvement and carbon sequestration. Students reported working with greater accuracy and purposefulness as inquiry results were not predetermined and were to inform pilot research for the scientist's doctorate. Quantitative data analysis revealed that students who participated in the biochar inquiry outperformed their science extension-level peers who did not participate in the inquiry, in both a state-wide science test and overall science grades. Findings of this study highlight positive outcomes to have resulted from the student–scientist partnership. At a time when the school science curriculum is failing to engage the majority of young people (Lyons, 2006), there is need for further research to evaluate the effectiveness of this strategy in enhancing student engagement and achievement in science in the compulsory years of schooling.

Item ID: 32769
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Keywords: student–scientist partnership, scientific inquiry, secondary school science
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Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2015 23:42
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930201 Pedagogy @ 100%
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