The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of process-oriented guided-inquiry learning (POGIL) on non-majors college biology students' understanding of biological classification. This study addressed an area of science instruction, POGIL in the non-majors college biology laboratory, which has yet to be qualitatively and quantitatively researched. A concurrent triangulation mixed methods approach was used. Students' understanding of biological classification was measured in two areas: scores on pre and posttests (consisting of 11 multiple choice questions), and conceptions of classification as elicited in pre and post interviews and instructor reflections. Participants were Minnesota State University, Mankato students enrolled in BIOL 100 Summer Session. One section was taught with the traditional curriculum (n = 6) and the other section in the POGIL curriculum (n = 10) developed by the researcher. Three students from each section were selected to take part in pre and post interviews. There were no significant differences within each teaching method (p < .05). There was a tendency of difference in the means. The POGIL group may have scored higher on the posttest (M = 8.830 ± .477 vs. M = 7.330 ± .330; z =-1.729, p = .084) and the traditional group may have scored higher on the pretest than the posttest (M = 8.333 ± .333 vs M = 7.333 ± .333; z = -1.650 , p = .099). Two themes emerged after the interviews and instructor reflections: 1) After instruction students had a more extensive understanding of classification in three areas: vocabulary terms, physical characteristics, and types of evidence used to classify. Both groups extended their understanding, but only POGIL students could explain how molecular evidence is used in classification. 2) The challenges preventing students from understanding classification were: familiar animal categories and aquatic habitats, unfamiliar organisms, combining and subdividing initial groupings, and the hierarchical nature of classification. The POGIL students were the only group to surpass these challenges after the teaching intervention. This study shows that POGIL is an effective technique at eliciting students' misconceptions, and addressing these misconceptions, leading to an increase in student understanding of biological classification.
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
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Date of Degree
Master of Science (MS)
Science, Engineering and Technology
Wozniak, Breann Marie, "Effect of Process-Oriented Guided-Inquiry Learning on Non-Majors Biology Students' Understanding of Biological Classification" (2012). All Theses, Dissertations, and Other Capstone Projects. 19.
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