An Interdisciplinary Exploration of Student Engagement in Scientific Practices

An Interdisciplinary Exploration of Student Engagement in Scientific Practices in Undergraduate Biology, Chemistry, and Physics Laboratory Courses 

(NSF Award # 2044432)  

This project aims to serve the national interest in undergraduate STEM education by examining student learning in laboratory courses. Many students enroll in introductory laboratory courses for multiple disciplines at the same time. As a result, there is a need for interdisciplinary investigation into how students experience scientific practices in such courses. This project focuses on the eight scientific practices described in the Framework for K-12 Education and embedded in the Next Generation Science Standards. Scientific practices are important because they are fundamental to scientific discovery, inherently interdisciplinary, and applicable across scientific contexts in higher education. This project investigates similarities and differences in the scientific practices incorporated into introductory laboratory courses in biology, chemistry, and physics. It focuses on how students, staff, faculty, and teaching assistants value scientific practices that are perceived as more technical (such as analyzing data) or more social (such as communicating information). This project will determine whether and how students engage with specific scientific practices in biology, chemistry, and physics laboratory courses, and how that engagement is encouraged and rewarded. The findings from this project will expand current understanding of scientific practices in introductory science courses. In doing so, this work will lay a foundation for making these laboratory courses more equitable and supportive of a greater diversity of learners. 

For more information contact a member of our project team: