Published In / Presented At
CBE-Life Sciences Education (Vol.15, Iss.4)
Biology | Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Research Methods in Life Sciences
The scientific process is nonlinear, unpredictable, and ongoing. Assessing the nature of science is difficult with methods that rely on Likert-scale or multiple-choice questions. This study evaluated conceptions about the scientific process using student-created visual representations that we term "flowcharts." The methodology, Scientific Process Flowchart Assessment (SPFA), consisted of a prompt and rubric that was designed to assess students' understanding of the scientific process. Forty flowcharts representing a multidisciplinary group without intervention and 26 flowcharts representing pre- and postinstruction were evaluated over five dimensions: connections, experimental design, reasons for doing science, nature of science, and interconnectivity. Pre to post flowcharts showed a statistically significant improvement in the number of items and ratings for the dimensions. Comparison of the terms used and connections between terms on student flowcharts revealed an enhanced and more nuanced understanding of the scientific process, especially in the areas of application to society and communication within the scientific community. We propose that SPFA can be used in a variety of circumstances, including in the determination of what curricula or interventions would be useful in a course or program, in the assessment of curriculum, or in the evaluation of students performing research projects.
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Wilson, Kristy J. and Rigakos, Bessie, "Scientific Process Flowchart Assessment (SPFA): A Method for Evaluating Changes in Understanding and Visualization of the Scientific Process in a Multidisciplinary Student Population" (2016). Department of Biology. 2.