CURRENT VOLUME ALL VOLUMES SEARCH TIEE
VOLUME 5 TEACHING ISSUES AND EXPERIMENTS IN ECOLOGY
RESEARCH

Use of an Inquiry-based Approach to Teaching Experimental Design Concepts in a General Ecology Course

AUTHOR

Elizabeth N. Hane 1

1 - Department of Biological Sciences, Rochester Institute of Technology, 85 Lomb Memorial Dr., Rochester, NY 14623 (enhsbi@rit.edu)

ABSTRACT

Student understanding of experimental design was assessed at the beginning and again at the end of a General Ecology course in order to understand the impact of guided inquiry activities. Students participated in a series of labs in which they had increasing levels of responsibility for designing experiments or observational studies. Concepts of experimental design were also emphasized in inquiry-based components of the course lecture. Student understanding of experimental design was assessed using a pre- and post-test format (N = 46). Analysis of the pre-test results indicated that the best predictor of correct responses to questions about experimental design is whether the student self-reported participation in undergraduate research (p = 0.046). By the end of the course, all students improved on the post-test (mean 26%; p < 0.001) and there was no difference in post-test scores between groups of students with or without undergraduate research experience. The inquiry-based approach in the course may have provided experiences that were similar to some aspects of research for those students who lacked such experience. These findings have led to further changes in teaching strategies for the course.


KEY WORDS

ecology education research, guided inquiry, inquiry, pre-test, post-test

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank members of the TIEE workshop for their help and encouragement on this project, particularly Alan Griffith, Jaclyn Schnurr, Deborah Morris and members of the experimental design subgroup. My co-instructor, Paul Shipman was also instrumental in the design of the assessment tool. TIEE is supported through several grants from the National Science Foundation (DUE-0127388, DUE 0443714, and DUE 9952347).

CITATION

Elizabeth N. Hane. June 2007, posting date. Use of an Inquiry-based Approach to Teaching Experimental Design Concepts in a General Ecology Course. Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology, Vol. 5: Research #3 [online]. http://tiee.ecoed.net/vol/v5/research/hane/abstract.html