Training students to become better scientists by learning how to assess experiments for depth and quality through the use of a peer review panel.

by Yung Romano

Grades 9-12

Introduction

For me, science is about discovery. And discovery is a journey that has multiple branches. As a good scientist, you are encouraged to go down those branches and see what’s there. This is what I try to pass along to my students.

As science teachers, we teach students all of the technical skills – statistics, noting uncertainties, using equipment correctly, and controlling variables – but we often don’t teach them how to initiate experimentation.

So now we do something different. Students run through the experiment, write their reports, and then we develop a peer review panel. This panel has a checklist:

-Was the student a risk taker?

-How did she communicate?

-Was she principled when doing research?

This enables students to get feedback and brainstorm about how they can improve their next experiment. It also opens up new possibilities for exploring pathways they hadn’t anticipated.

Reflections

What I did well…

The strategy was focused on gearing the students to use the hallmark IB student profiles to enhance/drive the scientific process.  As a science teacher in an IB program, I strive to make every one of my students as engaged and creative as possible in their lab experimentation process.

What I would do more of, better, differently….

The strategy unfortunately takes several class rotations to complete in an actual classroom.  This strategy did not reflect well in a mock classroom setting.  Next time, I would go about sharing this strategy/practice to teachers using another avenue instead of setting it up as a mock classroom.  I would also video a portion of what it would actually look like in a classroom to share during the presentation.

In what ways do I still want to learn and grow in using this practice in my classroom?

One of the defining moments of IB science students is to use all the information and skills that I have taught them over the course of 1 ½ years to research and carry out their own experimentation.  I want to continue to refine this strategy to allow my students the opportunity to be as creative and collaborative as possible with their experimental design in order to be a risk-taker in their science endeavors.

I will continue to research past experiments to share with students so that they can analyze them for the IB profiles and use the information to drive their own research/experiments.

About Yung Romano

Yung Romano is a proud naturalized citizen of the United States who was blessed to be educated within the public school systems of Nebraska, Texas,...

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