Methods and Strategies

EMU Biology Professor Doug Graber Neufeld and students in the labWe are using integrated multi-week laboratory projects, situated in an authentic scientific research context, usually with an environmental focus: monitoring, remediation, risk assessment, etc., and dispersed across chemistry and biology courses and faculty research projects.

The education and psychology departments have worked with the biology and chemistry departments to develop a rubric-based strategy, founded on principles of enhanced learning via formative assessment (Assessment FOR Learning).

In this manner, students will:

  • participate in numerous integrated research projects,
  • have clear learning goals and direction provided,
  • and receive clear formative feedback, all of which presumably lead to greater conceptual and skill development.

The project is being evaluated by two methods:

  1. Rubrics are being used to measure student learning gains on the following types of assignments: written research reports, oral presentations of research findings, and research poster presentations. We have developed and tested the validity of a 22 item rubric bank, assessing HOCs, NOS and written and oral communication skills. As students move through multiple courses in our curriculum, scores on these rubrics will track their learning of these concepts.
  2. Student understanding of NOS is being assessed with the Views of NOS and Student Understanding of Science and Scientific Inquiry assessment tools in Matter and Energy, General Chemistry and in a capstone course (either Faith, Science, and Ethics or Research and Seminar).