Document Type




Publication Date

Spring 3-16-2018


An important question in higher education is "How do we best support students so that they stay at Western Michigan and remain or become interested in careers in one of the sciences?” One way seems to be getting students interested in research, which can spark and maintain their continued interest in STEM fields. Traditional laboratory activities often involve repeating classical experiments to reproduce known results rather than engaging students in experiments with the possibility of true discovery. Instead, we need to actively engage students to interest them in STEM and to keep them in the field. Our project uses data collected from students enrolled in BIOS 1610, where students spend the last third of their laboratory sessions engaged in a group-based independent research project that they present at a public poster symposium. Students were asked to complete pre/post attitude surveys that rated their confidence in performing science-related tasks and their interest in STEM careers, along with other course-related data (poster grades, course grades, etc.). Early indications are that engaging in these group research projects may have a positive impact on students' confidence in developing a hypothesis, design an experiment, analyze data, write about science, and formulate a scientific argument from evidence, but not on a student's interest in a career in STEM or their confidence in talking about science.


Ms. Heather Kasper, from the Department of Biological Sciences, Dr. Mary Anne Sydlik, from the Center for Research on Instructional Change in Postsecondary Education, and Dr. Susan Stapleton, Interim Provost, shared this poster at the 2018 WMU Assessment in Action Conference on March 16. They were the recipients of one of the 2017-18 WMU Assessment Fellows Grants to conduct research on assessment of student learning outcomes.