Through The Lens of the Microscope: Examining the Addition of Traditional and Digital Microscopes to the Study of Cell Theory in a Rural Middle School Setting

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Title: Through The Lens of the Microscope: Examining the Addition of Traditional and Digital Microscopes to the Study of Cell Theory in a Rural Middle School Setting
Author: Ennis, Jackie Strum
Advisors: Ellen S. Vasu, Committee Chair
Lisa L. Grable, Committee Member
Jane D. Steelman, Committee Member
Peter A. Hessling, Committee Member
Abstract: Situated in the classrooms of three middle school teachers in a rural school system in North Carolina, this study examined the variable of microscope use on three levels — no microscopes, analog microscopes, and digital microscopes — during the unit on cells. The study benefited from the use of two complementary parts — a quasi-experimental quantitative part and a qualitative component. The quantitative component of the study utilized two instruments, the Scientific Attitude Inventory II (SAI II) (Moore & Foy, 1997) and a content test developed for this study. Each instrument was administered as a pretest and a posttest to the three groups of students. An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was conducted. Results of the ANCOVA on the content test showed that when controlling for the pretest scores, there were no differences between the mean posttest scores of the students. Results of the ANCOVA on the SAI II showed that when controlling for the pretest scores, there was a statistically significant difference (p<.05) among the mean posttest scores. However, Scheffe's Method of Multiple Comparisons revealed no significant differences among the scores of the three groups of students. Descriptive data provided the students' scores disaggregated by gender and by racial identity. The qualitative component utilized classroom observation, teacher interviews, and student interviews as data sources in the three learning environments. Analysis of the data revealed that the students in all three classrooms were engaged in the learning activities and benefited from the learning experiences. However, the students who used the digital microscopes were more engaged than the other groups. These students used technology as a mindtool to help them bridge the concrete experiences to the abstract concepts associated with cell theory. Yet, the teacher who used the digital microscopes missed opportunities for them to use the devices for knowledge construction. Two types of digital microscopes were also compared, revealing a preference for the less expensive tool.
Date: 2005-11-03
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Curriculum and Instruction
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/4585


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