Cutting Edge > Courses > Introductory Courses > Activities > The Scientific Method

Scientific Method in a Box

Kyle Fredrick
,
California University of Pennsylvania
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This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.

This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection

Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.



This page first made public: Apr 30, 2008

Summary

This assignment is designed to introduce the students to the idea and process of the scientific method. They are led to recognize that much of their own thinking is through the Scientific Method.

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Context

Audience

I use this in my Introductory Geology course (EAS 150) which is an undergraduate general education course as well as a required course for Geology, Environmental Earth Science, and Secondary Education in Earth Science Majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

None

How the activity is situated in the course

This is the first lab of the semester (Total of 12-14).

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

It is designed to enforce the scientific method and the process of science, especially the ideas of hypotheses, observations, and interpretations.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students are required to form hypotheses based on observations. They also develop methods for testing those hypotheses and making adjustments to them based on interpretation of results.

Other skills goals for this activity

The students work in groups of 2-4. They also begin to use note-taking skills based on observations.

Description of the activity/assignment

This lab is designed to introduce the students to the format of the lab portion of the course. They have an opportunity to meet and work with the other students in the lab, especially important in a freshman-level course. The content of the lab is based on the Scientific Method and acts as an introduction to the entire course, as it is the first lab exercise of the semester. All of the information we discuss in the course is ultimately linked back to the scientific method, and I make a concerted effort to reiterate this linkage throughout the semester. Students are initiated into the world of scientific thinking and it is demonstrated that they use this critical skill all the time in their everyday lives.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students are graded on the depth of their descriptions of their observations and hypotheses. The exercise is followed up by questions based on historically supported geologic phenomena and the theories that explain them. Student responses to those questions including development of hypotheses and tests are graded. Grades are subjective and granted on a 10-point scale.

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