Graduate Research Papers

Award Winner

Recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Master's Research Paper Award - First Place.

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Open Access Graduate Research Paper


Genetics--Study and teaching (Secondary); Next Generation Science Standards (Education);


In 2015, Iowa’s adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) compelled the Waterloo Community Schools to set a goal of complete alignment to those standards by the 2018-2019 school year. In order to prepare for this transition, I chose to focus my creative component on the development and implementation of a NGSS aligned unit on Genetics for a sophomore level biology course. The unit focused on the Performance Expectation (PE) HS-LS3-3: Apply concepts of statistics and probability to explain the variation and distribution of expressed traits in a population and incorporated all three dimensions of the NGSS: Science and Engineering Practice (SEP) of analyzing and interpreting data, the Disciplinary Core Idea (DCI) of variation of traits, and the Crosscutting Concept (CC) of scale, proportion, and quantity. The Understanding by Design (UbD) method of backwards lesson planning was utilized in the creation of the unit. Various methods of assessment were dispersed throughout the unit including a preassessment, numerous formative assessments, a summative assessment project and a summative traditional assessment. Upon completion of the implementation of the unit, the EQUiP rubric was utilized to evaluate the quality of the unit and it’s alignment to the NGSS. Although there was no significant difference between pre and post assessment scores, student enjoyment of the class activities was evident and the student engagement level was higher than in previous, non-NGSS style lesson plans.

Year of Submission


Year of Award

2020 Award

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Science Education Program

First Advisor

Jill D. Maroo, Advisor

Date Original

Fall 2018

Object Description

1 PDF file (129 pages)



File Format