Air Toxics Under the Big Sky: examining the effectiveness of authentic scientific research on high school students’ science skills and interest

Tony J. Ward, Naomi Delaloye, Earle Raymond Adams, Desirae Ware, Diana Vanek, Randy Knuth, Carolyn Laurie Hester, Nancy Noel Marra, Andrij Holian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

ABSTRACT: Air Toxics Under the Big Sky is an environmental science outreach/education program that incorporates the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) 8 Practices with the goal of promoting knowledge and understanding of authentic scientific research in high school classrooms through air quality research. This research explored: (1) how the program affects student understanding of scientific inquiry and research and (2) how the open-inquiry learning opportunities provided by the program increase student interest in science as a career path. Treatment students received instruction related to air pollution (airborne particulate matter), associated health concerns, and training on how to operate air quality testing equipment. They then participated in a yearlong scientific research project in which they developed and tested hypotheses through research of their own design regarding the sources and concentrations of air pollution in their homes and communities. Results from an external evaluation revealed that treatment students developed a deeper understanding of scientific research than did comparison students, as measured by their ability to generate good hypotheses and research designs, and equally expressed an increased interest in pursuing a career in science. These results emphasize the value of and need for authentic science learning opportunities in the modern science classroom.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)905-921
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Volume38
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 12 2016

Keywords

  • Environmental science
  • NGSS 8 Practices
  • authentic science research
  • open inquiry
  • secondary education

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