Chemistry: Exploring Students’ Understanding of the Relationship Between Acid-Base Conjugate Pairs and Their Relative Strength

Title: Exploring Students’ Understanding of the Relationship Between Acid-Base Conjugate Pairs and Their Relative Strength
Authors: Melissa W. Anderson, Nadia Carmosini, Katherine Friesen, and Yevgeniya Turov; Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Discipline/Field: Chemistry and Biochemistry
Submission Date: June 2013

Abstract: During our time working with students in CHM 104 [General Chemistry II], we have observed that concepts related to acid-base equilibrium are particularly challenging for students. Even after a significant amount of lecture and laboratory instruction, students still appear to have only a superficial understanding of the topic at the completion of the course. Therefore, the main goal of this study was to improve students’ understanding of the relationships between acids and bases and their conjugates, one of the most fundamental aspects of acid-base chemistry. This goal was approached by modifying the first lab experiment to deal with acid-base chemistry (Experiment #5). Students typically arrive to a lab period having skimmed the experiment procedure at best. Therefore, the instructor spends a significant amount of instruction time (~45 min) discussing the theory behind the experiment, as well as practical aspects of the lab. By removing the bulk of the pre-lab instruction out of the set experiment time (3 hours), and also asking students to complete work before they attended the lab, we hoped to focus their attention to the outcomes of the experiment having come to lab more prepared than in the past. Through this lesson study we found the modifications made to the experiment were useful in allowing the students to demonstrate their proficiency with equation writing skills, and also reinforced their understanding of many of the differences between acids and bases. However, common misunderstandings surrounding pKa, pKb, and pH we not fully addressed and still need some attention.

Lesson Study in Chemistry: Exploring Students’ Understanding of the Relationship Between Acid-Base Conjugate Pairs and Their Relative Strength (Full Report)

Political Science: Collective Action Lesson Study

Title: Collective Action Lesson Study
Authors: Jo Arney, Tim Dale, and Adam Van Liere; Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.
Discipline(s) or Field(s): Political Science and Public Administration
Submission Date: June 28, 2013

Abstract: For the first part of the lesson students played a game called the Isle of Ted. Many collective action problems arise as part of the game and students unwittingly make choices that add to the overall lesson. The second part of the game is an interactive lecture that unpacks the lessons in the game and offers additional examples of collective action problems. Our findings suggest that allowing students to experience collective action problems first hand while playing the game allows them to apply the lesson to American National Government. Lesson Study in Political Science: Collective Action Lesson Study (Full Report)

Marketing: Providing Supporting Information as Evidence for Decision Making

Title: Providing Supporting Information as Evidence for Decision Making
Authors: Maggie McDermott and Nicole Gullekson- UW LaCrossse
Discipline(s) or Field(s): Marketing & Management
Submission Date: June 2013

Abstract: This lesson study aimed to better understand the process students use to evaluate information in a SWOT analysis. The ultimate goal was for the students to be able to identify what makes for a good SWOT analysis and to use this knowledge to successfully develop a team SWOT analysis. For the lesson, students reviewed three example SWOT analyses, were asked to identify strengths and weaknesses, and to develop criteria for a good SWOT analysis. Observers noted the students’ discussion points and process of approaching the task. Findings revealed that students focused on superficial details of the examples, rather than on content or the quality of information. Additionally, team members did not appear to engage in debate or critique one another’s ideas. General conclusions and recommendations for future lesson studies are included.

Lesson Study in Marketing: Providing Supporting Information as Evidence for Decision Making (Full Report)

Modern Languages: Learning and Analyzing The Preterit and Imperfect in Spanish

Title: Learning and Analyzing The Preterit and Imperfect
Authors: Laura M Merino and Matthew Field
Discipline: Modern Languages, Spanish
Submission Date: April 2013

Abstract: The difference between the preterit and imperfect is a key intermediate grammatical concept in Spanish foreign language classes so this study aimed to observe student’s thought processes when analyzing it. Students would be given the task of completing a paragraph in the past that involved verbs in both tenses while the investigators walked around observing student’s strategies and methods of choosing either preterit or imperfect. Students were tasked with not only completing the verbs correctly but also discussing in groups and writing down the reason why they chose what they chose. Student’s discussions helped investigators learn that a few key words throughout the paragraph were causing confusion as to what the implications were for the students responsible for choosing between preterit and imperfect.

Spanish Lesson Study: Learning and Analyzing The Preterit and Imperfect (Full Report)

English: Student Interpretation and Application of Peer Writing Comments

Title: Student Interpretation and Application of Peer Writing Comments
Discipline/Field: English, Composition
: Ryan Friesen, Jennifer Mohlenhoff-Baggett, and Bruce Handtke; Department of English, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Submission Date: June 19, 2013

Abstract: In order to understand how student writers perceive peer and instructor comments and what value or usefulness they assign to them, we observed students reading, understanding, and applying given comments to the revision of a text. Through observation we collected evidence of how students understand peer comments, how they translate them into a process, and how they use the comments to evaluate their revisions. To make student learning visible, we observed how peers offered revision comments on a paper written by a member of their group. For many of us, the habits and methods undertaken by student writers when they have peer and instructor comments in front of them are a mystery. We wonder how student writers read peer comments, what they recognize within them, and how they apply their reading of these comments to the revisions they make within the paper. We wish to understand what has happened when writers do not recognize meaningful content in peer comments or do not apply them to revision, and we wish we knew how this form of communication could be improved. In our lesson study, we observed students interpreting peer comments and making decisions about their applications. As a result, we have developed strategies for refining the peer critique process to the benefit of writers, readers, instructors, and the texts that students produce.

English Lesson Study: Student Interpretation and Application of Peer Writing Comments (Full Report)

English: Framing Expectations for Literary Study

Title: Framing Expectations for Literary Study
Discipline/Field: English, Literary Study, Literature
Authors: Susan Crutchfield, Natalie Eschenbaum, Bryan Kopp, Kelly Sultzbach (alphabetical listing), Department of English, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Submission Date: December 7, 2012

Abstract: Students frequently think about general education and foundational literature courses simply as requirements to fulfill. Our broader goal was to scaffold student thinking about the purpose, value, and necessity of literary study. We focused on three more specific goals: 1) to help students understand that both a “right answer” approach to interpretation and an “anything goes” approach are problematic; 2) to help students appreciate the positive value of ambiguity as something that invites multiple persuasive interpretations; and 3) to help them recognize that literary modes of thinking can be applicable to non-literary texts as well. Our observations revealed that some teams arrived quickly at single, closed interpretations whereas others generated new, persuasive readings of the poem. During the large group conversation, individuals generally were good at providing valid textual support for their interpretations. In subsequent classes students seemed more willing to entertain multiple interpretations and to challenge one another. Students seemed to have made progress with our first and second goals. We saw evidence for our third goal when students at the end of class started asking the question, what makes a text “literature” or not?

English Lesson Study: Framing Expectations for Literary Study (Final Report)

Economics: Student Thought Processes For Choosing Appropriate Statistical Methods

Title: Developing Students’ Thought Processes for Choosing Appropriate Statistical Methods
Discipline(s) or Field(s): Research Methods, Statistics
Authors: Elizabeth Knowles and James Murray, Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Submission Date: August 23, 2012

Abstract: Introductory statistics classes typically emphasize computation and implementation procedures for a number of statistical tests. While it is essential to build these skills before achieving higher-order critical thinking skills, students often struggle in subsequent research methods courses when expected to select appropriate statistical tests to answer research questions. This requires an understanding of how statistical methods are related to one another; and to achieve this, students must develop a more advanced organization of knowledge. We designed a lesson to help students build a knowledge organization to achieve this outcome, and observed students to better understand their thought processes. We share our thought process map for selecting a statistical test, report on the impact it had for our students, and offer suggestions for improving the lesson. In addition, we describe the thought processes students used, both before and after being exposed to the thought process map, and identify sources of confusion revealed through the lesson study process. These include: when to apply an independent-samples test versus a paired-samples test, how the identification of scale of measurement led students to choose the wrong statistical method, the difficulty students had recognizing or defining what the variables in a problem were, and the lack of understanding of the difference between statistical language and colloquial language.

Economics Lesson Study: Student Thought Processes for Choosing Appropriate Statistical Methods (Final Report)