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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Use of Probeware to Improve Learning Outcomes in Middle School Science: A Mixed Methods Case Study
by Price, Elizabeth Lamond, Ed.D., Gwynedd Mercy University, 2017, 132; 10616674
Abstract (Summary)

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) call upon K-12 science teachers to provide authentic science and engineering practices which deepen understanding of core ideas and crosscutting concepts (NGSS Lead States, 2013). Probeware technology provides exposure to these scientific practices; however, there is a disconnect between the frequency of teacher probeware use and these current mandates. Additional research is needed to study how probeware is used to improve learning outcomes.

This descriptive mixed method case study focused on the pedagogical practices of middle school science teachers in one department, identified conditions of deep learning in probeware lessons and examined whether probeware creates a learning advantage on a state science assessment. The qualitative findings of this case study indicate that probeware provides an affordance over traditional lab equipment and allows more time for deep learning as shown in the artifacts of instruction and teacher narrative. Quantitative methods were used to compare student performance scores on the 2016 8th Grade Science Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA): this metric allowed for the comparison in performance between students of the participating teachers who use probeware (n = 349) and students in the same district who do not use probeware (n = 332). An attempt was made to control socioeconomic and demographic variables to make a valid comparison between students exposed to the same curriculum from two middle schools within the same district. The employed methodology was the first of its kind to correlate student use of probeware technology to performance on specific sections of a state-wide science assessment.

This study found that students who use probeware had slightly higher mean scores in the Nature of Science reporting category and its three sub-sections; however, statistical differences were revealed in only one sub-section: Reasoning & Analysis. This is the section where students are required to explain, interpret and apply knowledge presented in graphical form. These findings are relevant because they suggest that the use of probeware provided a learning advantage on questions requiring an understanding of graphs. Statistical differences in mean scores were also noted in the Physical Science and Biology reporting categories, while no statistical differences were recorded in the Earth & Space reporting category.

The results of this case study benefit science teachers, science supervisors, curriculum developers, and researchers who are tasked with aligning curricula to the NGSS. The correlation between the use of probeware and higher student performance scores supports the inclusion of this technology in elementary and secondary science.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Brown, Jeffrey
Commitee: Mehler, George W., Riley-Miller, Alison
School: Gwynedd Mercy University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational technology, Science education
Keywords: Affordance, Assessment, Mbl, Probeware, Real-time data collection
Publication Number: 10616674
ISBN: 978-0-355-16362-9
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