Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Biological Sciences, University of Toronto Scarborough
Title: Hypothesis inception: Comparing Student Perceptions, Self-Efficacy and Students’ Ability to Apply the Scientific Method in a Non-Majors Biology Course
Research Focus: I am interested in identifying the unique factors that influence the learning experience and academic performance of non-majors biology students. Specifically, I am interested in investigating students’ understanding and use of the scientific method (as an indicator of cognitive development), their self-efficacy and their perceptions (including metacognitive abilities) of learning biology.
Given that teamwork is central to the nature of work in biology, I am also interested in understanding its impact on the attitudes and abilities of novice learners in the field. Congruently, I hope to identify the types of group processes that result in learning gains for students, including metacognitive development. I hypothesize:
- Students who demonstrate proficiency in the use of the scientific method, will demonstrate higher academic performance in the course.
- Students who engage fully in group learning processes and who view teamwork as opportunities for peer-based learning, will demonstrate proficiency in the use of the scientific method and higher academic performance in the course.
- Students who report attitudes towards learning biology that are most similar to that reported by academic scientists (“experts”), will demonstrate higher academic performance in the course.
Study Design: This study utilizes both quantitative and qualitative approaches.
Impact: I expect this study will provide valuable information about the attitudes, skills and needs of these students. Identifying the contribution of self-efficacy and metacognitive skills may be particularly salient, given that fostering such transferable skills at the first year level may have substantive, positive academic outcomes for our students.
SoTL Cohort Poster presented at the 2019 Teaching and Learning Symposium