Exploring TA attention to students' written work in biology
Abstract: The science education literature documents the benefits of student engagement with scientific practices. Lab reports could be an opportunity for developing student reasoning, but often prioritize learning terminology and genre-specific writing. There is potential for instructors to give students feedback that helps them to engage with scientific practices; however, little work investigat... read morees whether and how instructors attend to student reasoning in written work in science. This work explores graduate instructor (TA) attention to lab reports in an introductory undergraduate biology course. I investigated TA attention within the context of their students' lab reports. In an initial study, TAs in a traditional lab course paid attention to genre. In the following year, the lab course was redesigned to focus on students making sense of their experimental findings. TAs paid attention to and engaged with student reasoning. The evidence suggests that course context influenced TA attention. In a case study to take a close look at a TA who participated in both studies, I show evidence that suggests she formed a sense of what she was doing - not simply following directions. I argue that instructor expectations about an activity—here, lab reports—are informed by the context in which the activity is situated; furthermore, instruction can reframe the purpose of labs and reports to support student engagement with reasoning.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2018.
Submitted to the Dept. of Education.
Advisor: David Hammer.
Committee: Julia Gouvea, Mitch McVey, and Katherine McNeill.
Keyword: Science education.read less