Portland State University. Center for Science Education
Date of Award
Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) in General Science
1 online resource (vi, 106 pages)
Inquiry-based learning, Science -- Study and teaching (Secondary) -- Activity programs -- Oregon -- Evaluation, Science projects
The success of inquiry-based learning (IBL) in supporting science literacy can be challenged when students encounter obstacles in the absence of proper support. This research is intended to evaluate the effectiveness of an Oregon public school district's regional science fair coaching program in promoting inquiry skills and positive attitudes toward science in participating high school students. The purpose of this study was to better understand students' perception of program support, obstacles or barriers faced by students, and potential benefits of IBL facilitated by the science fair program. Data included responses to informal and semi-structured interviews, an anonymous survey, a Skills assessment of final project displays, and an in-depth case study on three students' experiences. Results suggest that the science fair program can properly engage participants in authentic IBL. However, when assessing the participant's final project displays, I found that previous fair experience did not significantly increase mean scores as identified by the official Oregon Department of Education (ODE) scoring guides. Based on results from the case study, it is suggested that participants' low science self-concept, poor understanding of inquiry skills, and inability to engage in reflective discourse may reduce students' abilities to truly benefit. Recommendations to address this discrepancy include identifying specific needs of students through a pre–fair survey to develop more targeted support, and providing new opportunities to develop skills associated with science-self concept, understanding of inquiry and reflective discourse. In addition, results suggest that students would benefit from more financial support in the form of grants, and more connections with knowledgeable mentors.
Betts, Julia Nykeah, "Evaluation of a High School Science Fair Program for promoting Successful Inquiry-based Learning" (2014). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1986.