Seventh Grade Science Teacher, Devon Rothschild, began the year by asking students to read two articles about the benefits of taking notes by hand instead of electronically. The research concludes that, often times, handwritten notes allow for better retention of the information. The students challenged this notion and decided to conduct an experiment in their classroom to support or refute these conclusions. Students talked about the best way to design this experiment, settling on a coin toss to randomly assign students to either take notes by hand or electronically. After taking notes in one of these groups, students would then take a quiz on an unannounced day to limit students’ ability to prepare for the exam. They identified the independent, dependent, and control variables and graphed the quiz scores of each group of students using a bar graph. Based on the data, students concluded that, for their grade, handwritten notes were more effective for retaining information.
This experiment allowed students to conduct research on an issue that directly impacted their lives. They were able to identify and understand some of the real-world challenges with conducting research on people. And they were able to draw conclusions for themselves, instead of having an instructor provide them with the answer.
Devon noted that "As an educator, this was a powerful way to watch 'real science' being brought into the classroom. Students were engaged throughout the process and excited to determine the results. I hope that they now have a great understanding of the scientific method and how it can be relevant to their own lives. "