Authentic Scientific Inquiry, Student Engagement, and Transformational Learning: Are They Related?
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Students on the Beamlines (SotB) is a unique program offering an opportunity for high school students and their teachers to collaborate with scientists to develop, execute, and share an authentic scientific inquiry using techniques offered by the Canadian Light Source (CLS). Canada’s synchrotron is a national science research facility that generates intense beams of x-ray and infra-red light to probe the structure and function of matter. The nature of the SotB program, involving high school students in authentic scientific inquiry, and observation of engaged students provided an opportunity for investigation into these concepts. The purpose of this study was to provide insight into what engaged these students and in particular, to determine if, how and to what extent the authentically scientific nature of the program contributed to student engagement, as well as to determine if, how, and to what extent this unique situation nurtured the potential for a transformational learning experience. To address the research questions qualitative methods were employed to study field notes, correspondence, observations and feedback related to the program and interviews of the student, teacher, and researcher participants. This provided insight into the experiences of the participants that will be of interest to teachers, parents, students, curriculum writers, researchers, funding agencies, outreach program developers, scientific research facilities and others. Through the analysis of literature, this work produced a list of indicators of engagement and attributes of authentic scientific inquiry. These indicators and attributes were used as a framework through which data were analysed resulting in the refinement of these frameworks. In addition, evidence supported a connection between participation in authentic scientific inquiry and the engagement of students, although it also suggested other contributions to engagement. There is also evidence to support the presence of transformational learning for some students and teachers. This thesis presents the evidence in the form of a series of manuscripts drawing conclusions useful for those wishing to create similar science experiences for high school students and for science educators.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
CommitteeMcVittie, Janet; Thompson, Julie
Copyright DateSeptember 2011
authentic science inquiry