Argument-Driven Inquiry in the Middle and High School Laboratory—The Refinement and Further Development of a New Instructional Model
Co-Principal Investigators: Sherry Southerland; Donna Ellen Granger
Purpose: Most laboratory experiences in U.S. science classrooms are isolated from the flow of classroom science instruction and are typically prescriptive in nature. Traditional laboratory experiences also rarely incorporate ongoing reflection and discussion between teachers and students, even though there is evidence that indicate that opportunities to reflect on one's own thinking is essential for students to make meaning out of their laboratory activities. To address this problem, the researchers will develop and test the Argument-Driven Inquiry (ADI) instructional models. This model will be used by teachers and is intended to change the nature of laboratory experiences inside science classrooms to better support and promote the development of students' scientific proficiency.
Project Activities: The researchers will develop, refine, and test the ADI instructional model. All materials and products (i.e., peer review guides, embedded diagnostic assessments, investigation report scoring guides, laboratory activities) needed for teachers to implement the ADI instructional model in middle or high school science classrooms will be produced.
Products: The products of this project include fully developed ADI instructional materials, and published reports.
Setting: The setting for this study includes middle schools and high schools in Florida.
Sample: Thirteen middle school and high school science teachers and their students will participate in the study. The student population is ethnically diverse and includes a high percentage of students from low-income backgrounds.
Intervention: The ADI instructional model is designed to complement existing science curricula. The ADI instructional model consists of eight components: (1) the identification of the task by the classroom teacher; (2) the generation of data through systematic observation or experimentation by small collaborative groups of students; (3) the production of a tentative argument that articulates and justifies an explanation for the phenomenon under investigation in a medium that can be shared with others; (4) an argumentation session in which small groups share their arguments with other groups and critique the work of others in order to determine which explanation is the most valid or acceptable; (5) creation of a written investigation report by each student; (6) a double-blind peer-review of these reports to ensure quality; (7) the subsequent revision of the report; and (8) an explicit and reflective discussion of the topic, the investigation, and the nature of science. This last item will be coupled with a diagnostic assessment that can be used by teachers to guide future laboratory experiences.
Research Design and Methods: The researchers will develop 8 ADI investigations for middle school Life Science and Physical Science, 12 ADI investigations for high school Biology, and 10 ADI investigations for high school Chemistry. In addition, an online ADI lesson planning and assessment management and support system for teachers will be developed. The research plan includes an iterative cycle of development, enactment, analysis, and redesign. Six teachers (1 middle school Life Science; 1 middle school Physical Science; 2 high school Biology; 2 high school Chemistry) and their science class sections will participate during each year of the study. During the first two years of the study, the lab investigations will be implemented by the six teachers throughout the school year. Students will complete the various science proficiency assessments prior to the first ADI investigation and again at the end of the school year. Each ADI investigation will be video recorded and samples of student work will be collected. Based on the results from the classroom implementation of the materials, revisions will be made as needed.
To assess the promise of the intervention, data from a new set of seven teachers and their students will be collected beginning in Year 2. Students will complete science proficiency assessments at the beginning and end of the school year while business-as-usual instructional practices are being implemented. These same seven teachers will then implement the ADI instructional model and materials into their classrooms during Year 3 of the project. Pre-intervention assessments of science proficiency will be collected the beginning of the year and samples of student work and post-intervention assessments of science proficiency will be administered at the end of school year.
Control Condition: To assess the promise of the intervention, students in the comparison condition will receive the business-as-usual science curriculum and materials.
Key Measures: The key measures for the project include three researcher developed assessments measuring science content knowledge, scientific writing, and science performance tasks, the Student Understanding of Science and Scientific Inquiry assessment, student work samples (e.g., investigation reports, peer reviews), and classroom observations.
Data Analytic Strategy: The researchers will analyze the student work samples and observational data to refine the instructional model and to examine students' learning over time. Repeated measures analysis of variance will be used to analyze student learning gains on the pre-and post-assessments of science proficiency.