SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS EDUCATION LEADERSHIP PROGRAM,
A MENTORING PROGRAM
Ann W. Wright, Canisius College
The aim of the science and mathematics education leadership program (SMELP) is to provide an opportunity for science majors and adolescent science and mathematics majors to participate in a preservice teacher education program. The program’s purposes are to offer relevant preservice teaching experiences for undergraduate education majors, and enrich high school students experience with science and mathematics, stimulate their interest in science and math, and encourage them to continue their science and mathematics related studies. The program serves as a bridge between urban high school science students and undergraduate students.
There are three parts to this program: mentorship, student learning, and integrated curriculum. High school teachers mentored undergraduate students, and the undergraduate students mentored urban high school biology and mathematics students. Thus, the undergraduate students learned about teaching in a “real life” context while the high school students learned from peer mentors, the undergraduate students. By mentoring, the college students provided high school students role models. Science and mathematics concepts were integrated in the activities providing the high school students with the opportunity to recognize the interrelationship between science and mathematics while learning concepts in science and mathematics.
Literature Review
Mentorship
The first cited example of mentoring was when Odysseus entrusted his son to his wise friend and trusted advisor, Mentor, to guide his son’s development. Freedman (1992) referred to mentoring “as kindness of strangers.” Carrad (2002) defined mentoring as a noncritical relationship in which an individual mentor voluntarily gives time to support and encourage another. The relationship typically lasts for a significant and sustained period of time. In this study, the mentors were given a stipend, but nonjudgmental relationships were established between all participants of the program, teachers, undergraduate students, and high school students.
Two levels of mentorship occurred in the study. High school teachers mentored undergraduate students and the undergraduate students, mentored urban high school biology, chemistry, and mathematics students. The results from a study by Orion & Thompson (1999) provided evidence for the effectiveness of teachers’ mentorship of undergraduate students. MacLeod’s research (1987) found teenagers living in housing projects had few role models and, therefore, affected their own aspirations. In the study, MacLeod (1987) found that the same teenagers were inspired when working with peers who had been trained to help with instructions. This studied indicated that high school students benefited from undergraduate student role models.
High School Teachers Mentoring Undergraduate
Students
High school teachers who mentor undergraduate students encourage and provide them with the skills needed to become science and math teachers. Orion & Thompson (1999) suggested, “in order to produce educators rather than ‘teaching technicians’ student teachers should be introduced in a meaningful way both to practical and to theoretical aspects of education” (p. 166). Successful teaching is crucial to the success of student learning in science and mathematics. New teachers are faced with the problems of fitting in with colleagues, developing yearlong lesson plans that fit the curriculum, establishing effective classroom management, and working with diverse students and parents. These problems contribute to 30% of new teachers leaving the field in their first five years (McCaughtry, 2005). These teachers’ attitudes and abilities can ultimately determine the outcome of student’s science education. Mentoring programs serve to offset these problems faced by new teachers in their first years of teaching. Therefore, mentoring also serves to help undergraduate students learn instructional strategies and curriculum planning. Welltrained science and mathematics teachers are needed to fill a shortage that has existed over the past two decades (Abeles, 1982; Bailey, 1983; Bullock and Scott, 1993; Fifer and Odell, 1992; Rumberger, 1985; Schorling, 2000; Shymansky and Aldridge, 1982; Urrows and Urrows, 1986). In this study, science and mathematics high school teachers mentored science majors and science and mathematics education majors. The college students learned various teaching methods and instructional skills.
Undergraduate Students Mentoring Urban High School
Students
In this study the high school students benefited from
the role models provided by the undergraduate students. In recent years there has been an
increasing drop out rate for high school students. Thornburgh (2006) states, “An alarming number
of researchers are saying that nearly 1 out of 3 public high school students
won’t graduate… for Latinos and African Americans, that rate approaches an
alarming 50%.” In addition, dropping out
of school is “an indicator of a host of poor outcomes to follow, e.g., low
lifetime earnings” (Thornburgh 2006).
One effective strategy is “getting parents and mentors involved”
(Thornburgh 2006). Mentoring from college students can
provide high school students with the missing role model in their life.
Previous research has found that mentoring can improve students’ grades
in addition to a reduction in drug and alcohol use (Dappen 2005).
Furthermore, mentoring can help reform the science education system and,
one hopes, increase minority and lowerclass students to aspire to further
science education.
MacLeod (1987) found that college students could
counteract urban teenagers’ feelings that it was impossible to make it in
today’s society. The urban teenagers received
inspiration from the college students whom they can better relate to than their
teachers. The lack
of social mobility amongst the classes, especially for adolescent urban youth,
has been an increasing problem in the U.S. over the past years. Kendall
(2004) stated, “The research of Ehrenreich and other social analysts suggests
that upward social mobility is an elusive goal for many people”. This problem is partially a result of the
lack of positive role models for underprivileged students, particularly
minorities. MacLeod’s (1987) research on teenagers residing in urban
housing projects found the teens had few role models which negatively affected
their own aspirations. Poor students commonly live amongst unsuccessful
parents and siblings, and they are offered little encouragement to succeed in
school. These students know few people who come from their background and
yet succeed in the workforce. Therefore, these students lose hope in
society’s educational achievement system and perform poorly in school (MacLeod,
1987).
The
success of minority students could lead to increased minority educational
advancement. By becoming teachers themselves, they would provide a
younger generation of urban students with teachers from similar backgrounds to
whom they can relate. These successful
adults will be better able to relate to their students than many of the
suburban teachers in the urban school systems today. In addition, these
teachers will provide the students with good role models, which can increase
their hopes for educational achievement. Past research has shown that the lack
of minority urban teachers is a contributing factor to why so few minorities
pursue education in mathematics and science (National Science Foundation,
1995).
Integrated Curriculum
In the past few years,
integrated science and mathematics curricula have become a very popular
instructional strategy. Studies indicate
the effectiveness of an integrated curriculum.
National reform efforts stress the need for integration in the curriculum
(National Council of Teachers of English, 1996, National Council of Teachers of
Mathematics, 1989, National Council for the Social Studies, 1994, National
Science Teachers Association, 1996, and National Association for the Education
of Young Children, 1987). Integration serves to “infuse mathematical
methods in science and scientific methods into mathematics such that it becomes
indistinguishable as to whether it is mathematics or science” (Czerniak 1999). Science for All Americans (1993) states, “The alliance between
science and mathematics has a long history, dating back centuries. Science provides mathematics with interesting
problems to investigate, and mathematics provides science with powerful tools
to use in analyzing them” (Rutherford & Ahlgren, 1990, p. 1618). In this study, high school students were
given the opportunity to learn how biology and mathematics are
interdependent. They learned how
scientists use mathematics to understand phenomena and mathematicians use
science to test mathematical models.
Integration can serve to spark the
student’s interest in both fields and provide a more effective teaching method
by which students can relate their classroom activities to everyday life. Previous research suggested integrated curricula
increased student interest and increased scores on the National Assessment of
Educational Progress. Unfortunately,
much of the research has been conducted in conjunction with other curriculum
reforms, so the results are anecdotal.
More research is needed in the area of integrated curriculum which
causes students to see the big picture and learn patterns and connections
rather than scrambled bits of material. This is crucial because
mathematics and science can been seen as subsets of each other and the use of
mathematics is needed for the analysis of science.
The laboratory activities implemented a model of learning that was referred to as integrative learning (Hassard,1992). Each activity consisted of “input, synthesis, and output” which are the three parts of the learning cycle (Hassard, 1992). Each laboratory activity started by engaging the students in a discussion and allowing the students to express what they already knew about the concept presented in the activity. By starting with what the students already know, the laboratory is built on students thinking. The book How People Learn (Bransford, Brown, and Cocking, 2000) suggests that instruction must start with students’ thinking. The activities were assessmentcentered (Bransford, Brown, and Cocking, 2000). Assessmentcentered activities help the students assess the quality of their hypotheses and models. The activities provided formative assessments so the instructor could observe what students were thinking.
Unfortunately, most of the previous research on integration has been done in conjunction with other reforms so the results are somewhat unclear. Due to the lack of evidence for the effectiveness of integrated instruction, many educators still advocate traditional subjectbased learning. They are concerned that incorporating bits of mathematics into science lectures will leave gaps in subject matter. Another concern is that to understand an integrated curriculum, a student must first possess prerequisite skills; otherwise, the curriculum seems to be based on trivial topics. Teachers feel they do not have time both to teach the prerequisite skills and incorporate them into an integrated curriculum. This study addresses these concerns.
History of Program
The Howard Hughes Medical Institution Grant, from 2000 to 2004, funded
the first Leadership Program.
Undergraduate science majors and science education majors mentored urban
high school science students. Comments
from the undergraduate students that participated in the program were:
“The students were
very noisy before I started the lesson and then they settled
down.”
“I enjoyed being part
of the program. It is hard to be a
teacher.”
“I was surprised how
long the activity took. I thought I had
plenty of time.”
“The student had good
ideas which were different than I anticipated.”
Most of the undergraduate students felt that classroom activities or
handson activities were the best method of teaching, rather than
lecturing. In addition, the
undergraduate students felt that the most important skills for the high school
students to learn were forming a hypothesis or making a prediction, analyzing
data, and developing an appropriate experimental design. These skills were reflected in the laboratory
activities.
The next program funded by Howard Hughes Medical Institution Grant 20042008 was the Science and Mathematics Educational Leadership Program. The results of the program during the 20052006 school year are reported in this paper. The undergraduate students created activities which integrated science and mathematics, and they presented them in six urban high school science classrooms and one mathematics classroom. The classroom teachers and two college faculty members oversaw the creation of activities and made sure the concepts presented in the activities match National and New York State Science and Mathematic Standards.
Rationale
The program is intended to make undergraduate science majors, adolescent science education majors, and mathematics education majors aware that they can improve science and mathematics education by sharing their knowledge with secondary students in the community.
The results supported the
rationale for this study which was:
Program Design
The study evaluated the program for the school year 20052006. In September, the program started with a twoday workshop which included high school teachers and undergraduates. The purpose and the expectations of the program were discussed at the workshop. Also, the teachers helped the undergraduate students to understanding what laboratory activities are appropriate for high school science and mathematics students. The undergraduate science majors and adolescent science and mathematics education majors developed laboratory activities during Fall Semester, 2005 and implementation of laboratory activities in high school classrooms during Spring Semester 2006.
Participants
Five teachers (5 females: 1 AfricanAmerican, 1 Asian, and 3 Caucasian), nine undergraduate students (5 females, 4 males: 1 AfricanAmerican, 1 Hispanic, and 7 Caucasian and two Caucasian female faculty members met seven times during the year.
Two public urban school districts, one of 39,172 students and the other of 2,516 students, were involved. The percentages of students eligible for free lunch are 66.7 for the larger school district and 19.3 for the small school district. The ethnicity of the larger school is 3.1% American Indian, 17.8% AfricanAmerican, 2.3% Hispanic, and 76.7% Caucasian. The ethnicity of the small school is 2.8% American Indian, 58.2% AfricanAmerican, 12.9% Hispanic, and 26.1% Caucasian.
Data Collection
The effectiveness of the mentoring experience for the teachers and college students was determined from the yearend feedback from the teachers and the college students. Also, fieldnotes from observations of the classroom activity were recorded and used to evaluate the success of the program. During the meetings throughout the year, teachers and college students provided constant verbal feedback. The instrumentation used by the high school students to collect data were TI 84 graphing calculators and Vernier probes. The Vernier probes included gas analyzers, pH meters, temperature sensors, and hand held heart rate monitors. Also, electrophoresis equipment made by Edvotek was used. High school students’ written work was assessed to evaluate their content knowledge. Each laboratory activity included a pre and post assessment.
Results
Qualitative Results
High school teachers and undergraduate students filled out surveys at the end of the first year. The following is a summary of the results from the surveys which were used to provide feedback on the program’s effectiveness in helping undergraduate students learn about teaching.
Teachers’ Survey
2 high school teachers (survey attached)
Both teachers strongly believed the program was interesting for the high school students. The teachers wished that more activities, similar to the ones developed by the undergraduate, needed to take place in science classrooms. In addition, they believed the program taught best practices in science instruction and the activities appropriately integrated science and mathematics concepts. The teachers agreed that the activities included the right amount of both mathematics and science. Furthermore, the teachers both remarked that the use of innovative technology greatly added to the success of the program.
An issue that concerned one teacher is more time should be given to discussing teaching methods and classroom management with the undergraduate students. Also, the same teacher stated, “the timing between college students’ schedules and high school class times needs to be better coordinated.” Another concern voiced by one teacher, was in certain cases the content level was above the grade level. In addition, one teacher said the amount of time needed to perform the activities, in some cases, was longer than the class period. The same teacher indicated a longer introduction which explicitly explains the use of the instruments would be helpful. This is especially important because students do not have experience using the instruments.
College Students’ Surveys
Overall, the college students agreed the activities were age appropriate. They thought high school students should have more opportunity to participate in similar activities. Students stated that they realized good teachers must be able to create effective handson activities. These activities must teach students about how science works. One student learned the necessity of good coordination (timing of events within the activity) and logistical skills and how to teach a particular age group. Another student commented that the high school students were more knowledgeable then they realized. Most students indicated that if they were to become a science teacher they would use handson activities because it engage the students. The students commented that the successful parts of the program were learning how to develop interesting laboratory activities and experiencing being a teacher. To improve the activities, four out of the six students felt the amount of mathematical concepts in the activities should increase. In contrast, all students believed the amount of science concepts should stay the same. One student commented that the program could improve by having the college students teach only the activities they wrote. Another student suggested college students should observe the class before teaching the students and run a prelab. Other students felt that more classroom time in the high school would improve the program’s effectiveness and felt that time at the high schools could be better coordinated.
Quantitative Results
High school students’ written work was used to assess the learning of the science and mathematics content knowledge in the laboratory activity. Each laboratory activity included a pre and post assessment. The undergraduate students graded the high school students’ work. The next section will describe the outcomes of the laboratory activity. A summary of the general findings from the results of the laboratory activities is reported in the discussion section of the paper.
Table 1 Mathematic Standards for All Laboratory Activities
Modeling/Multiple Representation 
Students use mathematical modeling/multiple
representation to provide a means of presenting, interpreting, communicating,
and connecting mathematical information and relationships. 
Measurement 
Students use measurement in both metric and
English measure to provide a major link between the abstractions of
mathematics and the real world in order to describe and compare objects and
data. 
Uncertainty 
Students use ideas
of uncertainty to illustrate that mathematics involves more than exactness
when dealing with everyday situations. 
Patterns/Functions 
Students use
patterns and functions to develop mathematical power, appreciate the true
beauty of mathematics, and construct generalizations that describe patterns
simply and efficiently. 
Electrophoresis
Laboratory Results
The
electrophoresis laboratory reports of the fourteen high school students are
used to describe the results for this activity. Even though the high
school students were given specific instructions to follow, the reports were
disorganized and the format was inconsistent. Every report followed a
different order, even though the students had written reports before following
the same format. Some reports contained
extra or omitted sections.
Table 2 National Science Educational Standards in the Activity
National Science Education Content Standards for
grade 912 (NCR, 1996) 

Standard A (page 173) 
Students
will use mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design,
as appropriate, to pose questions, seek answers, and develop solutions. 
Standard C (page 186) 
The
molecular basis of heredity, DNA, where the DNA resides in the cell and the
expression of heritable traits by the cell. 
Standard E (page 192) 
Understandings about science and technology, students “evaluate the
solution and its consequences 
Students
were asked to write a Laboratory Report for the electrophoresis activity. The following is the rubric used to evaluate
the laboratory report.
Table
3 Scoring Rubric used for the Electrophoresis Lab report
Scores 
Criteria 
0, 5, 10 
Clear and Appropriate HEADING, TITLE, PROBLEM, and HYPOTHESIS 
0, 5, 10 
All MATERIALS listed and a summary of PROCEDURE. 
0, 10, 20 
Appropriate presentation of DATA and observations including, graph(s),
chart(s), drawing(s), etc. Accuracy of
data 
0, 10, 30, 50 
Clear and concise CONCLUSIONS.
Conclusion addresses problem and states knowledge gained. Answers to all QUESTIONS 
0, 5, 10 
OverallNEATNESS, GRAMMAR, adheres to FORMAT, etc. 
Total Points 

The
average grade was 71.1%. One student
earned an A (90%), while most others scored between 60 and 80%. All the
students’ completed headings and list of materials. In addition all
students received a perfect score for neatness and grammar. Also, most students were able to write a very
thorough procedure section for their report with an average score of 14.3 out
of 20. Half of the students misstated
the hypothesis or stated no hypothesis. Some of the students labeled a
simple statement or question as their hypothesis. Most students scored
poorly in the conclusion section of the rubric with the average 28.9 out of 50.
Photosynthesis Laboratory Results
Students determined how elodea, an underwater plant, alters its environment over time by measuring changes in pH and dissolved oxygen. Biology was incorporated into the lab as students learn about the processes of photosynthesis (both light dependent and light independent). Chemistry was incorporated as students learn to calculate carbon dioxide concentrations in the water based on pH and kH measurements. Mathematics was incorporated through calculations, graphing, and interpretations. Students made calculations, graphed results and interpreted the results.
National Science Education Content Standards for
grade 912 (NCR, 1996): 

Standard A (page 173) 
Students
will use mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design,
as appropriate, to pose questions, seek answers, and develop solutions. 
Standard C (page 186) 
Matter
energy and organization in living systems, “As matter and energy flows
through different levels of organization of living systems and between living
systems and the physical environment, chemical elements are recombined in
different ways 
Standard D (page 181) 
Interactions
of energy and matter, “Each kind of atom or molecule can gain or lose energy
only in particular discrete amounts and thus can absorb and emit light only
at wavelengths corresponding to these amounts 
Standard E (page 192) 
Understandings about science and technology, students “evaluate the
solution and its consequences 
Question One:
Looking at results from the other groups in the class, did a difference in light intensity make much of a difference in any category you measured? What category and why?
All students correctly answered the
first part of the question based on their observation, but answered the second
part of the question with incorrect information. Two students correctly observed that the
light dark reactions needed oxygen to complete the reaction. However, none of
the students correctly answered the question as to what was happening in their
experiment to make the oxygen levels increase or decrease.
Question
Two:
Looking at the results from other groups in the class, was there any difference in measurements of any category because of different masses of the plants used by different groups? (If there were not enough groups to test this variable, ignore this question)
All
the students’ accurately read their data chart. The students stated correctly that either the
pH levels increased or decreased over the course of the experiment. The students stated in light the pH levels
decrease. However none of the students
stated the decrease was due to the increase in CO2 produced because of an
increase in the metabolism of the plants. Therefore, they were unable to
relate their knowledge of photosynthesis to the data collected.
All
students were able to correctly answer the next question regarding how light
intensity affected the entire class’s data for pH and oxygen level. Some students noted that there was not much
variance amongst the different groups’ data despite their differing light intensities.
All the students correctly recorded their observations.
The fourth
question was extremely difficult to answer.
Create a graph showing the change in CO_{2} for your group over time, and a graph showing the change in dissolved oxygen levels over time. You may combine these graphs into one if you wish.
One
student did not even attempt to complete the CO2 section of the graph to answer
the question. Others were able to successfully complete the graph;
however, it did not help them to understand the reasons CO2 levels change in
light/ dark reactions. While the precise reasons are not required
knowledge for high school students, the students should have been able to
complete the data chart by using computer software.
Finally,
most students were able to correctly construct the graphs of their data.
However, most students had difficulty discussing why their results
differed from other groups who experimented with greater or less light
intensity. Some simply restated the recorded data but could not relate
the data to the effect of the light/ dark reactions.
Heart Rate
Laboratory Results
The students learned about heart
rate and how various factors affected heart rate. The students were asked about the
relationship between heart rate and respiration rate. Also, the students
learned why lower resting heart rate is healthy. The students recorded the results in the
following table.
Exercise 
Initial
monitor HR 
Monitor
HR (record in 20 sec intervals) 
Time
to return to RHR 
50
jumping jacks 



Jog
1 minute 



Walk
1 minute 



Students made a bar
graph and a line graph which included both the standard manual reading and the
final monitor reading for each exercise.
Seven students were able to
sufficiently answer the critical thinking sections. Most of the students were
able to apply the knowledge they learned from the laboratory as indicated by
the students’ answers to some of the questions.
The students were able to answer the questions which asked them to
relate information to real life. However, despite success, the activity
also posed many problems for the students.
Students had great difficulty with
correctly graphing the difference between heart rate taken manually and with a
monitor. The students’ average score was a 3 out of 5. The students had difficulty correctly
describing the trends of their graphs.
Three students did not even try to answer the question.
The next
section required the student to determine the average
time to return to resting heart rate after doing the various activities. Five students possessed the
necessary mathematics skills to determine an average time to return to resting
heart rate and to determine the activity that caused the greatest change in
heart rate. However, only one student was able to understand how the time
to return to resting heart rate correlates with the amount of change in heart
rate for a specific activity.
The students accurately related
their heart rate and to their fitness level. In addition, most students
understood how heart rate would change from rest while being in a haunted house
or while sleeping. Some students
encountered difficulty in understanding how heart rate correlates with
respiration.
Discussion
The feedback from the surveys implied the SMELP provided effective instruction to teach undergraduate students about science pedagogy. The college students learned about developing age appropriate activity which integrated “seamlessly” biology, chemistry, and mathematics.
The college students learned about mathematics and science teaching, and they believed the activities integrated mathematics and science. They learned how to create age appropriate activities. The undergraduate students realized how beneficial these type of activities were for student learning and, therefore, they felt there should be more similar activities. Many students stated that a good teacher must be able to create effective, interesting, and engaging handson activities for the students to learn how science works. In addition, students learned the necessity of coordinating time, the importance of logistical skills, and the effectiveness of age appropriate instruction. The students learned that a good teacher should be prepared to answer indepth questions because the high school students were more intelligent than expected. However, the students did express some problems with the program. Four out of the six students believed the amount of mathematics concepts in the laboratories should be increased. In contrast, all students believed the amount of science concepts should stay the same. A student commented the program could improve by having the college students teach only the activities they wrote. Another expressed a similar concern that the college students should be able to observe the class before teaching the students and run a prelab. The remaining students commented that there should be more time in the classroom to improve the program’s effectiveness and this could be done through better coordination between the high school and college semesters.
The college students’ perception of urban high schools’ environment was changed from a negative to a positive perception. Finally, the students presented positive role models for urban high school students. Many of the students continued going into the schools to help after the program ended.
Electrophoresis Laboratory
Discussion
The
laboratory reports were disorganized and contained conclusions which were
inconsistent with the laboratory results. Every report followed a
different order, even though the students had written reports before following
the same format. Some reports contained
extra or omitted sections.
The
students’ laboratory reports showed positive results that they had learned
concepts and skills. All of the students’ headings and list of
materials were excellent. In addition all students received a perfect
score for neatness, grammar, and format. This clearly shows that the
students put effort into their work. Also, most students were able to
write a very thorough procedure section for their report with an average score
of 14.3 out of 20. This shows that they understood the steps of the lab
they were performing and took the time to clearly write them out. One
mistake made by half of the students was the hypothesis was misstated the
hypothesis or not stated. Some labeled a simple statement or question as
their hypothesis.
The data
collection section was challenging to two students who neglected to construct a
simple graph of their results. All the other students showed they
understood the concept of organizing data into graphs and charts.
However, all students had difficultly stating trends from analyzing the
data. This problem displays the
students’ inability to understand simple scientific terms and tasks. According
to federal standards, the students should have been able to “identify questions
and concepts that guide scientific investigations” (pg 175).
Most
students scored poorly in the conclusion section of the rubric with the average
28.9 out of 50. This large loss of points on the conclusion was
attributed to the students’ lack of expansion on what they observed and,
therefore, conclude from the activity. Only about half of the students
were able to make some attempt at rationalizing and explaining their data. However, some students were able to
understand the problems they encountered while performing the laboratory and
the effects these mistakes had on the overall outcome of their experiment.
None of the students were able write a clear, accurate, and concise
conclusion section. This could be caused
by the lack of instruction on how to use data in writing an appropriate
conclusion section. The other reason for
the poor performance on the conclusion section is the inability of the students
to follow directions.
From reading through the laboratory
reports it was clear students are willing to put time and effort into their
tasks and understand what they are doing when they perform them. However, few students were able to see beyond
this point to connect their results to the science at hand.
Photosynthesis
Discussion
After
studying the results of the photosynthesis laboratory, the students seemed to
best be able to comprehend the mathematics concepts of the lab such as graphing
and observing data. However, the students seemed to have difficulty
relating this information to the facts they learned about photosynthesis.
For instance two students correctly observed that the light dark
reactions needed oxygen to complete the reaction but they could not answer why
oxygen was necessary. In fact, none of
the students completely answered the question as to what was happening in their
experiment to make the oxygen levels increase or decrease.
Most
students were able to correctly construct the graphs of their data.
However, most students had difficulty discussing why their results
differed from other groups who experimented with greater or less light
intensity. Some simply restated the data but could not relate the data to
the effect of the light/ dark reactions.
Heart Rate Discussion
The
results from the heart rate activity indicated students were able to
sufficiently answer the critical thinking questions. Most were able to
use the knowledge they learned from the activity as seen in the answers to the
questions, which often called upon them to relate their learning to real life.
Despite this success, the activity showed similar student problems seen
in the other laboratory activities.
The students did a better job at
answering the heart rate activity questions than students’ performance on the
other activities developed from the program.
The students that did the heart rate activity answered the critical
thinking sections better than the students who did the other activities. The students were able to answer the
questions which called upon them to relate information to real life.
As seen
from the results from the other activities, the students had the most problem
answering cause/effect questions, describing the trends of their graphs, and
using results to make predictions.
Students possessed the necessary mathematics skills to determine an
average time to return to resting heart rate and to determine the activity that
caused the greatest change in heart rate. However, only one student was
able to understand how the time to return to resting heart rate correlates with
the amount of change in heart rate for a specific activity, a cause/effect
relationship.
Students understood heart rate
changes while being in a haunted house or while sleeping, while at the same
time students encountered difficulty in understanding how heart rate effects
respiration. Therefore, the students
were able to relate the science to real life but did not understand how this
relates to changing functions of other body systems.
Conclusion
Undergraduate
students learned about teaching in a “real life” context while the high school
students learned from peer mentors, the college students. The undergraduate students learned the
relationship between teaching and learning and learned that pupils do not learn
“much from merely listening, from memorizing, from carrying out “recipe”
practical work” (Orion & Thompson, 1999, p. 166). The undergraduate students learned by
applying their knowledge about teaching in the classroom. The college students learned about curriculum
and gained confidence in teaching inquiry activities to high school
students. They evaluated, analyzed and
reconstructed the science that they know into manageable, understandable
segments useful for teaching the high school students. The high school students benefited from
having the undergraduate students as good role models. High school students learned from the
integrated science and mathematics activities presented by college
students. Student learning was evaluated
by their answers to the questions asked throughout the activities. Science provides mathematics with interesting
problems to investigate, and mathematics provides science with powerful tools
to use in analyzing them” (Rutherford & Ahlgren, 1990, p. 1618). The high school students learned how science
and mathematics are interdependent.
They learned how scientists use mathematics to understand phenomena and
mathematicians use science to test mathematical models.
The program made undergraduate science majors, adolescent science education majors, and mathematics education majors aware that they can improve science and mathematic education by sharing their knowledge with secondary students in the community.
Recommendations
Next year the undergraduate students will be given an outline of how to create a laboratory activity. In the fall of 2005, the students worked very hard to develop the activities with verbal instruction from the teachers. Unfortunately, the students were not able to create the activities without explicit instructions which one of the faculty member provided.
The laboratory activities were finished before winter break but the students did not actually run through the activities until the beginning of the second semester of school. By the time the students started to take the activities into the classroom it was midsemester and, therefore, the students were only able to present two activities in the classrooms instead of all four.
Scheduling the undergraduate students presentation of the activities in the classroom was an issue. This was very difficult given the undergraduate student’s schedule and the classroom schedule, which is on a sixday cycle. If the activities can be developed and performed before the end of the first semester then scheduling will not be such a problem. Also, it is imperative the undergraduate students understand their commitment to the program and schedule free time during the week for the SMELP program.
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