Providing opportunities for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics undergraduates to engage in authentic scientific practices is likely to influence their view of science and may impact their decision to persist through graduation. Laboratory courses provide a natural place to introduce students to scientific practices, but existing curricula often miss this opportunity by focusing on confirming science content rather than exploring authentic questions. Integrating authentic science within laboratory courses is particularly challenging at high-enrollment institutions and community colleges, where access to research-active faculty may be limiting. The Authentic Inquiry through Modeling in Biology (AIM-Bio) curriculum presented here engages students in authentic scientific practices through iterative cycles of model generation, testing, and revision. AIM-Bio university and community college students demonstrated their ability to propose diverse models for biological phenomena, formulate and address hypotheses by designing and conducting experiments, and collaborate with classmates to revise models based on experimental data. Assessments demonstrated that AIM-Bio students had an enhanced sense of project ownership and greater identification as scientists compared with students in existing laboratory courses. AIM-Bio students also experienced measurable gains in their nature of science understanding and skills for doing science. Our results suggest AIM-Bio as a potential alternative to more resource-intensive curricula with similar outcomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)