Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Cell and Molecular Biology (M.S.)

Degree Program

Cell and Molecular Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Deborah Herrington

Second Advisor

Dr. Douglas Busman

Third Advisor

Dr. Patrick Thorpe


Growth in the field of biotechnology, combined with the ability to access information instantaneously, requires a new model of science education that will nurture deeper understanding and higher order thinking to develop a scientifically literate population. Inquirybased learning is a student-centered model built on the theoretical framework of constructivism, which allows students to learn in a way that reflects how scientists come to understand the natural world. This project aimed to address the need for an inquiry-based biotechnology curriculum in a local Early College program by developing, piloting, revising, and implementing an inquiry-based biotechnology unit while simultaneously evaluating the impact of this curriculum on content knowledge and students’ motivation toward science learning. Results revealed that student assignment scores were consistent with a B- average and performance on the final presentation was consistent with an A- average, while content knowledge increased approximately 9 to 19 percentage points comparing pretest and posttest. Overall, using the Student Motivation Toward Science Learning survey, we did not see any measurable changes in students’ motivation toward science learning except for a slight decrease in self-efficacy, which could be reasonably expected given student discomfort experiencing both a novel curriculum and pedagogy. Qualitative student feedback, however, was positive regarding independence, accountability, and group discussion and students displayed a high level of enjoyment with the hands-on activities. Thus, this project resulted in a sample inquiry-based biotechnology curriculum unit that produced reasonable gains in content knowledge, and with further work on the affective components important to cognitive growth, displays potential for even larger content knowledge gains and increased student motivation toward science learning.

Included in

Life Sciences Commons