Peterson , Cheryl Ann , Stuessy, Carol .
Comparing Students' Online Interactions: Does Teacher Workshop Attendance Make a Difference?
Inquiry-based learning (IBL) encourages students to think and act like scientists. The online IBL platform, PlantingScience (PS), developed by the Botanical Society of America, facilitates IBL interactions among students and scientist-mentors. We developed the Online Elements of Inquiry Checklist (OEIC; inter-rater reliability of 92.1%) to assess students' online IBL performance.
In this exploratory study we compared IBL performance of two groups of students differing in their teachers' preparation. One group had teachers who were engaged in a PS-sponsored summer workshop; the other had teachers without the advantage of the workshop. We used the OEIC to compare IBL performance of 263 randomly selected groups of students who used either Wonder of Seeds and Power of Sunlight PS modules in Fall 2008 to Fall 2009 PS sessions. Randomization involved implicit sorting of groups by grade level and then selection by explicit variables of module, workshop teacher, and mentoring experience. Wonder of Seeds participants consisted of 214 teams (74 middle school), 41 teachers (9 workshop attendees), and 144 scientist-mentors. Participants using Power of Sunlight consisted of 49 teams (one middle school), 13 teachers (5 workshop attendees), and 42 scientist-mentors. Results indicate similar IBL performance in both groups. Students typically used the platform to discuss research questions, predictions, and design, but rarely discussed other IBL elements in detail. Students either rarely posted or had a tendency to engage in lengthy discussion. By individual sections of the OEIC, scientist-mentors posted less often than students, with the exception of experimental design and procedures sections, and rarely discussed other elements. Our online results are similar to previous investigations examining students' inquiry performance in face-to-face settings, which leads to questions about pedagogy for IBL. We suggest that teachers and scientist-mentors familiarize themselves with the OEIC and use it as a prompt to engage students' IBL. Students should be encouraged to examine other students' work posted on the PS website, as our results indicate underutilization of this valuable resource.
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1 - Texas A&M University, College Station, Teaching, Learning, and Culture, Mail Stop 4232, College Station, TX, 77840, USA
2 - Texas A&M University, TAMU 4232, Harrington Tower 443, College Station, TX, 77843-4232, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Location: Waterman Room/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
Time: 4:35 PM