, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 439-467
Date: 12 Feb 2011

High School Student Participation in Scientific Research Apprenticeships: Variation in and Relationships Among Student Experiences and Outcomes

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Research apprenticeships for secondary students provide authentic contexts for learning science in which students engage in scientific investigations with practicing scientists in working laboratory groups. Student experiences in these research apprenticeships vary depending on the individual nature of the laboratory in which students have been placed. This study explores potential relationships among student experiences in apprenticeship contexts and desired student outcomes (e.g. science content knowledge, understandings of nature of science, and aspirations for science oriented career plans). The following two research questions guided the study: How do participant experiences in and outcomes resulting from an authentic research program for high school students vary? How does variation in participant experiences in an authentic research program relate to participant outcomes? Primary data sources were student and mentor interviews in addition to student generated concept maps. Results indicated that the greatest variance in student experiences existed in the categories of collaboration, epistemic involvement, and understandings of the significance of research results. The greatest variation in desired student outcomes was observed in student understandings of nature of science and in students’ future science plans. Results suggested that collaboration and interest in the project were experience aspects most likely to be related to desired outcomes. Implications for the design of research apprenticeships for secondary students are discussed.

This research was supported in part by a grant from the Francis C. & William P. Smallwood Foundation.