Graduate Program

Biological Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Jill L. Deppe

Thesis Committee Member

Diane M. Burns

Thesis Committee Member

Eric K. Bollinger


New science standards, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), recently have been released which require students to use modeling and other process skills and cross-cutting concepts to show understanding of core concepts. Understanding by design approach was used to develop an ecology curriculum in line with the NGSS framework, using field studies to involve students in real science. A schoolyard habitat area on Neoga School District property was used for the field studies. Students were assessed with pre- and post-tests, traditional classroom grades on labs and projects and the Modified ATSI and Children's Science Curiosity Scale. All students showed significant growth in understanding from the pre-test to the post test. Achievement on the post test compared to a benchmark score showed seventy-six percent of students achieving passing level on the benchmark. Attitude in some domains moved in a positive direction from before to after the unit, including students' anxiety toward science and self-concept of science. Students' curiosity level, on the other hand, did not change during the curriculum unit. Qualitative responses from students' work indicate enthusiasm and understanding of topics in the unit. Areas targeted for future research include methods for evaluating qualitative data on student understanding and incorporating more emphasis on written expression into the curriculum.