A Schema Theory Analysis of Students' Think Aloud Protocols in an STS Biology Context
By: Catherine Quinlan
Published: 05/16/2012
Uploaded: 11/20/2017
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2012 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: biology, Protocols, theory analysis

Description/Abstract: This dissertation study is a conglomerate of the fields of Science Education and Applied Cognitive Psychology. The goal of this study is to determine what organizational features and knowledge representation patterns high school students exhibit over time for issues pertinent to science and society. Participants are thirteen tenth grade students in a diverse suburban-urban classroom in a northeastern state. Students' think aloud is recorded pre-, post-, and late-post treatment. Treatment consists of instruction in three Science, Technology, and Society (STS) biology issues, namely the human genome project, nutrition and health, and stem cell research. Coding and analyses are performed using Marshall's knowledge representations - identification knowledge, elaboration knowledge, planning knowledge, and execution knowledge, as well as qualitative research analysis methods. Schema theory, information processing theory, and other applied cognitive theory provide a framework in which to understand and explain students' schema descriptions and progressions over time.

The results show that students display five organizational features in their identification and elaboration knowledge. Students also fall into one of four categories according to if they display prior schema or no prior schema, and their orientation "for" or "against," some of the issues. Students with prior schema and orientation "against" display the most robust schema descriptions and schema progressions. Those with no prior schemas and orientation "against" show very modest schema progressions best characterized by their keyword searches. This study shows the importance of considering not only students' integrated schemas but also their individual schemes. A role for the use of a more schema-based instruction that scaffolds student learning is implicated.