Graduate Research Papers

Award Winner

Recipient of the 2022 Outstanding Master's Research Paper Award - First Place.

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Open Access Graduate Research Paper


Chemistry--Study and teaching (Secondary); High school students--Attitudes;


Many teachers find it challenging to embed guided inquiry into high school chemistry courses. Although guided inquiry provides excellent opportunities for students to engage in data analysis, misconceptions and loss of class time are teacher stated problems with guided inquiry. A stepwise inquiry project can slowly introduce students to the inquiry process of data analysis in high school chemistry.

This stepwise inquiry project examined three different inquiry labs designed around the anchoring phenomenon, “ Which toothpaste protects our teeth the best?”Each lab progressed in inquiry level. Lab one was written at inquiry level one,confirmation. The second lab was written at level two structured inquiry and the third lab was written as a guided inquiry lab

.Three research questions were examined:

1. What is the effect of the stepwise inquiry project on the attitudes towards chemistry?

2. What is the effect of the stepwise inquiry project on the depth of knowledge in written lab reflections of high school chemistry students?

3. What is the correlation between attitude toward chemistry labs and depth of knowledge of written lab reflections?

The success of this stepwise inquiry project was measured using the Attitude Toward Chemistry Lesson Scale (ATCLS) and Depth of Knowledge (DOK) levels on student written lab reflections. Pre/post survey results from the ATCLS measured the change in attitude towards chemistry from the start of this stepwise project to the end. Student lab reflections were scored based on how their responses matched up with the DOK levels used on Hess’ Cognitive Rigor Matrix.

This stepwise inquiry project had mixed findings. Attitude toward chemistry labs slightly improved. The DOK levels for written lab reflections increased slightly from lab 1to lab 3. Although both DOK levels and attitudes toward chemistry improved, there appeared to be a moderate negative correlation between attitude towards chemistry labs and increase in DOK levels for written student lab reflections.

Year of Submission


Year of Award

2022 Award

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Science Education Program

First Advisor

Dawn Del Carlo, Advisor

Date Original

Spring 2021

Object Description

1 PDF file (91 pages)



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