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Using Adapted Primary Literature to Test the Understanding of Concepts of Evidence in Chemistry held by First Year University Undergraduate Students Open Access


Other title
Adapted Primary Literature
First Year University Undergraduates
Understanding of Concepts of Evidence
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Vergis, Elizabeth
Supervisor and department
Randolph, Wimmer J (Educational Policy Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Steinhauer, Evelyn L (Educational Policy Studies)
da Costa, Jose L (Educational Policy Studies)
Flynn, Alison B (Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Ottawa)
Stelmach, Bonnie L (Educational Policy Studies)
Nocente, Norma M (Secondary Education)
Grace, Andre P (Educational Psychology)
Department of Educational Policy Studies
Theoretical, Cultural and International Studies in Education
Date accepted
Graduation date
2017-11:Fall 2017
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Adapted primary literature (APL) is a genre which still retains the canonical form and authentic results of primary literature, but is made readable and understandable for a target population which in this study consists of first-year university undergraduate students. The rationale underlying such adaptations is that they are more consistent with the nature of scientific inquiry than undergraduate chemistry textbooks. Learning facilitated by the usage of primary literature may be a way of developing the capacity for scientific ways of thinking among undergraduate students, as demonstrated by the pioneers in the APL field, Baram-Tsabari & Yarden. My objective in this study was to use APL in order to probe the understanding of Concepts of Evidence held by first-year undergraduate students; and investigate whether and how a pedagogic intervention could develop this understanding further. Concepts of Evidence are ideas that dictate how evidence can be collected, verified, analyzed, and interpreted. In order to achieve my goal I had to: (a) identify one piece of primary literature (b) compose an APL based on this primary literature; (c) devise a measure of Concepts of Evidence called the “Evidence Survey,” comprised of a pre-test questionnaire and a post-test questionnaire; (d) identify college/university classes where the instructors teaching first-year chemistry courses read the APL and agreed to be interviewed; (e) enlist students from these classes who were willing to participate in this study; (f) distribute the APL to these students followed by the administration of the pre-test questionnaire; (g) render a pedagogic intervention to the participating students on the Concepts of Evidence followed by the post-test questionnaire; (h) analyze the data from the two questionnaires to make the desired comparisons; and (i) transcribe the interviews and code the transcripts. Thematic content analysis was carried out on the coded transcripts and the main themes that emerged were identified. Four themes emerged from the student interviews and five from interviewing the instructors. My findings from the Evidence Survey showed that the majority (86%) of the student participants performed better on the post-test, suggesting that the teaching intervention was effective in furthering the understanding of both the content knowledge of the APL and the Concepts of Evidence embedded in it.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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