Michael Flower

Date of Award

Fall 1-7-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) in General Science


Science Teaching

Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 161 pages)


Physics -- Study and teaching (Secondary) -- Methodology, Science -- Methodology -- Study and teaching (Secondary), Inquiry-based learning -- Study and teaching (Secondary)




Educators are increasingly focused on the process over the content. In science especially, teachers want students to understand the nature of science and investigation. The emergence of scientific inquiry and engineering design teaching methods have led to the development of new teaching and evaluation methods that concentrate on steps in a process rather than facts in a topic. Research supports the notion that an explicit focus on the scientific process can lead to student science knowledge gains. In response to new research and standards many teachers have been developing teaching methods that seem to work well in their classrooms, but lack the time and resources to test them in other classroom environments. A high school Physics teacher (Bradford Hill) has developed a unit called Patterns in Nature (PIN) with objectives relating mathematical modeling to the scientific process. Designed for use in his large public school classroom, the unit was taken and used in a charter school with small classes. This study looks at specifically whether or not the PIN unit effectively teaches students how to graph the data they gather and fit an appropriate mathematical pattern, using that model to predict future measurements. Additionally, the study looks at the students' knowledge and views about the nature of science and the process of scientific investigation as it is affected by the PIN unit. Findings show that students are able to identify and apply patterns to data, but have difficulties explaining the meaning of the math. Students' show increases in their knowledge of the process of science, and the majority develop positive views about science in general. A major goal of this study is to place this unit in the cyclical process of Design-Based Research and allow for Pattern in Nature's continuous improvement, development and evaluation. Design-Based Research (DBR) is an approach that can be applied to the implementation and evaluation of classroom materials. This method incorporates the complexities of different contexts and changing treatments into the research methods and analysis. From the use of DBR teachers can understand more about how the designed materials affect the students. Others may be able to use the development and analysis of PIN study as a guide to look at similar aspects of science units developed elsewhere.

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