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Exploring the Role of Student Religiosity in the Biology Classroom

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In response to a national call within STEM to increase diversity within the sciences, there has been a growth in science education research aimed at increasing participation of underrepresented groups in science, such as women and ethnic/racial minorities. However, an

In response to a national call within STEM to increase diversity within the sciences, there has been a growth in science education research aimed at increasing participation of underrepresented groups in science, such as women and ethnic/racial minorities. However, an underexplored underrepresented group in science are religious students. Though 82% of the United States population is religiously affiliated, only 52% of scientists are religious (Pew, 2009). Even further, only 32% of biologists are religious, with 25% identifying as Christian (Pew, 2009; Ecklund, 2007). One reason as to why Christian individuals are underrepresented in biology is because faculty may express biases that affect students' ability to persist in the field of biology. In this study, we explored how revealing a Christian student's religious identity on science graduate application would impact faculty's perception of the student during the biology graduate application process. We found that faculty were significantly more likely to perceive the student who revealed their religious identity to be less competent, hirable, likeable, and faculty would be less likely to mentor the student. Our study informs upon possible reasons as to why there is an underrepresentation of Christians in science. This further suggests that bias against Christians must be addressed in order to avoid real-world, negative treatment of Christians in science.

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2018-05

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Operation Toothbrush: Understanding Pediatric Dentistry in Low Income Communities

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Operation Toothbrush is an initiative established to combat the oral healthcare disparity within young children who reside in Arizona. By working with elementary and preschool children, the project educated them and their families about the importance of oral hygiene in

Operation Toothbrush is an initiative established to combat the oral healthcare disparity within young children who reside in Arizona. By working with elementary and preschool children, the project educated them and their families about the importance of oral hygiene in informative and intuitive manner. The project incorporated the help of Pre-Dental volunteers, dental practices, and the Woodside Grant to obtain the supplies, information, and assistance necessary to conduct the initiative.

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2017-05

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An Analysis of Arizona's Political Influence on K-12 STEM Education and Its Impact on Latino Undergraduates in STEM Majors

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The aim of this study is to analyze the impact Arizona legislation has had on STEM education access, specifically for Latino students. Using socio-ecological systems theory, this study explores the relation between the macro and exo-systemic context of education legislation

The aim of this study is to analyze the impact Arizona legislation has had on STEM education access, specifically for Latino students. Using socio-ecological systems theory, this study explores the relation between the macro and exo-systemic context of education legislation and the micro-systemic context of being a STEM undergraduate at a state university. In order to understand how STEM education is affected, legislation was analyzed through the Arizona Legislative Database. Additionally, current STEM undergraduates were interviewed in order to discover the factors that made them successful in their majors. Data from the interviews would demonstrate the influence of the Arizona legislation macro and exo-systems on the microsystemic portion of Latinos and their access to STEM education. A total of 24 students were interviewed as part of this study. Their responses shed light on the complexities of STEM education access and the importance of mentorship for success in STEM. The overall conclusion is that more efforts need to be made before STEM education is readily available to many, but the most effective way to achieve this is through mentorship.

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2017-05

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Increased interactions in active learning biology classrooms: Exploring the impact of instructors using student names and student academic self-concept

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Learning student names has been promoted as an inclusive classroom practice, but it is unknown whether students value having their names known by an instructor. We explored this question in the context of a high-enrollment active-learning undergraduate biology course. Using

Learning student names has been promoted as an inclusive classroom practice, but it is unknown whether students value having their names known by an instructor. We explored this question in the context of a high-enrollment active-learning undergraduate biology course. Using surveys and semistructured interviews, we investigated whether students perceived that instructors know their names, the importance of instructors knowing their names, and how instructors learned their names. We found that, while only 20% of students perceived their names were known in previous high-enrollment biology classes, 78% of students perceived that an instructor of this course knew their names. However, instructors only knew 53% of names, indicating that instructors do not have to know student names in order for students to perceive that their names are known. Using grounded theory, we identified nine reasons why students feel that having their names known is important. When we asked students how they perceived instructors learned their names, the most common response was instructor use of name tents during in-class discussion. These findings suggest that students can benefit from perceiving that instructors know their names and name tents could be a relatively easy way for students to think that instructors know their names. Academic self-concept is one's perception of his or her ability in an academic domain compared to other students. As college biology classrooms transition from lecturing to active learning, students interact more with each other and are likely comparing themselves more to students in the class. Student characteristics, such as gender and race/ethnicity, can impact the level of academic self-concept, however this has been unexplored in the context of undergraduate biology. In this study, we explored whether student characteristics can affect academic self-concept in the context of a college physiology course. Using a survey, students self-reported how smart they perceived themselves in the context of physiology compared to the whole class and compared to the student they worked most closely with in class. Using logistic regression, we found that males and native English speakers had significantly higher academic self-concept compared to the whole class compared with females and non-native English speakers, respectively. We also found that males and non-transfer students had significantly higher academic self-concept compared to the student they worked most closely with in class compared with females and transfer students, respectively. Using grounded theory, we identified ten distinct factors that influenced how students determined whether they are more or less smart than their groupmate. Finally, we found that students were more likely to report participating less than their groupmate if they had a lower academic self-concept. These findings suggest that student characteristics can influence students' academic self-concept, which in turn may influence their participation in small group discussion.

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2017-05

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A Supporting Model for Teaching Fundamental Ecological Principles to Third Through Fifth Grade Students

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In today's world, critical thinking and using a systems approach to problem solving are skills that are far too rare. In the age of information, the truth has become muddled by "fake news" and a constant barrage of exaggerations or

In today's world, critical thinking and using a systems approach to problem solving are skills that are far too rare. In the age of information, the truth has become muddled by "fake news" and a constant barrage of exaggerations or blatant falsehoods. Without critical thinking skills, "many members of our society do not command the scientific literacy necessary to address important societal issues and concerns" (NCES 2012, p.11). Additionally, far too many people are incapable of thinking long term and understanding how their actions affect others. Because of this shortsightedness our world is facing one of its biggest ecological crises \u2014 global warming confounded by overpopulation and overconsumption. Now, more than ever, it is critical "for our young people to have a basic understanding of the relevant scientific ideas, technologies and ethical issues and powers of reasoning, to be prepared to face these issues" (Harlen et al., 2015). I believe that investigating innovative ways to teach ecology could be an important step to accomplishing this. Learning to think like a scientist forces people to rely on facts, follow similar protocols to deduce these facts, and be able to think critically about misleading events. More specifically, ecology education will allow people to develop those skills while also learning about team work, open-mindedness, and their environment. Ecology is defined as "the branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings" (Dictionary.com, 2018). It is clear that this subcategory of science could act as a powerful introduction to the scientific world and how we relate to it. Its introduction at a young age has the potential to create a generation of conscientious and curious lifelong learners. In an attempt to support effective ways to teach ecology, I developed an educational unit and applied it in different educational contexts. My target audience was elementary aged students and I tested this unit with children in Phoenix Metropolitan Area afterschool programs. I taught core concepts of ecology \u2014 the water cycle, the sun's energy, plants and photosynthesis, and food webs \u2014in a sequence of lesson plans that build upon each other. Finally, I determined the appropriate age group and setting for these lesson plans through research and in-class observations. In this document, I explain the process I went through in developing my lesson plans, why I felt compelled to make them, and my experiences in implementing them.

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2018-05

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How Collaboration is Operationalized and Successfully Implemented in Language Learning Classrooms.

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Education plays a key role throughout many different fields of study. My question has to do with not what we are learning, but how we are learning it, therefore focusing more on the teaching and instructional design aspect of the

Education plays a key role throughout many different fields of study. My question has to do with not what we are learning, but how we are learning it, therefore focusing more on the teaching and instructional design aspect of the learning process. Specifically, the goal of my thesis is to theoretically define collaborative learning and develop a framework that demonstrates how collaboration and interactivity can be successfully implemented in a language learning classroom. Language learning is essential in schools because it enables students to be culturally aware. According to the Modern Language Teachers' Association of South Australia, language learning plays a significant role in 21st Century learning. It assists students in being more community engaged as well as culturally diverse. They state that "knowing additional languages and cultures involves connecting, engaging, and interacting with others and negotiating boundaries based on diverse ways of understanding the world." (MLTASA) Collaboration can be very beneficial in the human learning process. According to Webb, students that collaborate with each other engage in challenging conversations and produce joint solutions whereas students that don't collaborate engage in conversation about practical rather than abstract matters (Webb, 2009). The success of collaboration is defined by the content of the dialog, groups won't necessarily engage in beneficial dialogue without help and facilitation by the teacher. It's important for teachers to keep groups on task and monitor their progress throughout the lesson. Through collaborative learning the student is able to take more from the lesson and view each concept from an alternate perspective. With teacher facilitated group discussions, students preform knowledge construction and challenge individual thoughts in order to come up with a joint solution that's takes everyone's point of view into perspective (Nastasi, 1999). Many researchers have concluded that collaborative learning, is a very beneficial learning method when it comes to challenging thoughts and concepts between students. Because each individual has a different thought process and ideas, each student brings a different concept that can be challenged and discussed among the group. Many researchers have previously studied the benefits of collaborative learning as well as the teacher's role in correctly facilitating and implementing it. Webb, highlights the importance of teachers actively pushing students to collaborate and challenge ideas. She states "In classrooms in which teachers pushed students to make explicit the steps in their mental processes (whether students' answers and strategies were correct or incorrect), collaborative groups engaged in frequent explaining and provided explanations that were correct and complete" (Webb, 2009, pg.18). Similarly, researchers such as Rijkje Dekker and Marianne Elshout-Mohr argue that collaboration in classrooms is especially important in terms of the type of work that is assigned. Assignments that require collaboration generally go more in depth and are considered more challenging than those given in individual assignments "Collaborative learning tasks are in general designed as complex, challenging and authentic problems. Such problems motivate students to attempt different strategies and co-construct and justify solutions" (Elshout-Mohr and Dekker, 2000, pg.40). Collaboration in language learning classrooms is beneficial and quite easy to implement (Elshout-Mohr and Dekker, 2000).

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2016-05

It Takes a Village: An Inquiry into the Importance of Community in Educational Success

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This research looks at a group of students from Tumaini Children's Home in Nyeri, Kenya. The purpose of this paper is to explore why this particular group of students is so academically successful. Quantitative research was taken from the average

This research looks at a group of students from Tumaini Children's Home in Nyeri, Kenya. The purpose of this paper is to explore why this particular group of students is so academically successful. Quantitative research was taken from the average 2013 test scores of Tumaini students who took the Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam in comparison to the scores of students who are not residing in the orphanage. Qualitative research involves interviews from those students who live in Tumaini and interviews from adults who are closely connected to the orphanage. The purpose is to understand why the students are performing so well academically and what support they have created for themselves that allows them to do so.

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2014-12

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Efficacies of Peer-Mentorship in the First-Semester Undergraduate Experience in the Life Sciences

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First-semester student retention is a constant priority for undergraduate institutions. The transition to the collegiate level, and to a new scholastic program and format, is frequently challenging academically and socially—for this reason, many first-semester course schedules for incoming freshman undergraduates

First-semester student retention is a constant priority for undergraduate institutions. The transition to the collegiate level, and to a new scholastic program and format, is frequently challenging academically and socially—for this reason, many first-semester course schedules for incoming freshman undergraduates feature an introductory seminar to ease transition to an undergraduate lifestyle. Arizona State University features a required “Careers in the Life Sciences” course for its first-semester School of Life Sciences students, which has had tractable results in first semester student retention and academic success. Here, we evaluate a component of the seminar, the peer-mentorship program, for its efficacy in students’ first semester experience. Analysis of self-reports from 168 first-semester “mentees” and their 25 mentors indicates frequency of mentee-mentor contact was the best indicator of a higher first semester GPA, comfort with academic resources and study habits, and desire to engage in extracurricular activities and internships. These data indicate that access to a mentor who actively engages and verbally connects with their mentees is a valuable component of first-semester student academic integration and retention.

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2014-05

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ASU PAGE TURNERS: TURNING THE PAGE TO SUCCESS

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The ASU Page Turners is an entrepreneurial community action program founded by Chase Fitzgerald and Hannah McAtee. In 2014, a third program partner, Chloe Holmes, replaced Hannah as co-president. The ASU Page Turners program aims to enhance opportunities for the

The ASU Page Turners is an entrepreneurial community action program founded by Chase Fitzgerald and Hannah McAtee. In 2014, a third program partner, Chloe Holmes, replaced Hannah as co-president. The ASU Page Turners program aims to enhance opportunities for the children of the Tempe/Mesa school districts through a unique one-on-one weekly reading program that is designed to draw together engaged ASU Barrett students and similarly motivated second and third grade students at the Tempe Public Library. The ASU Page Turners empowers the youth of our community by growing reading confidence, vocalization, and public speaking that can serve as transformative skill sets both in and out of the classroom. This document serves as a description and appraisal of the work done to establish the program, expand its reach and success, reflect on the experiences of the primary collaborators, appraise the value of the work as seen by the Tempe Public library, and set it on a sustainable path of growth for its future with Barrett, The Honors College and the Tempe Public Library. The Page Turners community consists of thirty Barrett students and thirty second and third grade students from ASU's greater community who actively embrace our mission to cultivate their own intellectual growth in a safe and productive manner. We look for every opportunity to encourage academic development, hold ourselves accountable, and realize our potential through the work we are doing, regardless if you are the student or the teacher. We have learned that these roles regularly reverse themselves, as there is much to learn from an inquisitive child's mind.

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2015-05

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Teaching Biology in a Maximum-Security Prison Unit: Feedback, Notes and Recommendations from a Pilot Class

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We, a team of students and faculty in the life sciences at Arizona State University (ASU), currently teach an Introduction to Biology course in a Level 5, or maximum-security unit with the support of the Arizona Department of Corrections and

We, a team of students and faculty in the life sciences at Arizona State University (ASU), currently teach an Introduction to Biology course in a Level 5, or maximum-security unit with the support of the Arizona Department of Corrections and the Prison Education Program at ASU. This course aims to enhance current programs at the unit by offering inmates an opportunity to practice literacy and math skills, while also providing exposure to a new academic field (science, and specifically biology). Numerous studies, including a 2005 study from the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC), have found that vocational programs, including prison education programs, reduce recidivism rates (ADC 2005, Esperian 2010, Jancic 1988, Steurer et al. 2001, Ubic 2002) and may provide additional benefits such as engagement with a world outside the justice system (Duguid 1992), the opportunity for inmates to revise personal patterns of rejecting education that they may regret, and the ability of inmate parents to deliberately set a good example for their children (Hall and Killacky 2008). Teaching in a maximum security prison unit poses special challenges, which include a prohibition on most outside materials (except paper), severe restrictions on student-teacher and student-student interactions, and the inability to perform any lab exercises except limited computer simulations. Lack of literature discussing theoretical and practical aspects of teaching science in such environment has prompted us to conduct an ongoing study to generate notes and recommendations from this class through the use of surveys, academic evaluation of students' work and ongoing feedback from both teachers and students to inform teaching practices in future science classes in high-security prison units.

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2015-05