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The Impact of a Story-Based Lesson on Student Learning and Attitudes

Faculty Mentor

Dr. David Rudge

Department

Science Education

Presentation Date

4-14-2016

Document Type

Poster

Abstract

Recent work by Stephen Klassen draws attention to specific structural elements that are thought to give stories their explanatory power in the context of physics. In this poster we report results of a study based on Klassen’s pioneering work but in the context of evolution. A mixed-method research study was conducted over two semesters at a Midwest university to determine if a story developed from the history of research on industrial melanism over the course of a three day lesson would result in improved student understanding of the concept of natural selection.

The study involved a direct comparison of two different versions of the unit; one presented the history of research on industrial melanism (IM) as a story, the other did not. The episode was chosen because it incorporates past scientists’ investigations on IM as a strategy to mitigate misconceptions. Learning gains were monitored by means of the Concept Inventory of Natural Selection (CINS), used as a pre-and post-assessment. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with a subset of the participants in an effort to understand their experiences with and attitudes toward the lesson. Results demonstrate that the story version yielded significant learning gains, and significant decreases in some misconceptions. In addition, participants expressed positive attitudes to this lesson’s format as a mystery in reference to inquiry teaching.