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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Effect of Project Ownership on Student Approaches to Scientific Writing in an Upper Division Laboratory Course

  • Author(s): Yang, Anqi
  • Advisor(s): McDonnell, Lisa
  • et al.
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Student ownership of research experience is an important feature in STEM curriculum design that leads to the many documented outcomes, such as increased learning motivation, greater interest in research, and higher retention in STEM fields. Although previous researchers have derived concepts of ownership from student descriptions of research experiences, few studies examined the definition of ownership directly from students’ perspective. In addition, we do not have a clear idea of how student writing approaches relate to perceptions of ownership, particularly in a course-based research setting. To address these unknowns, we used qualitative analysis of student survey and interview responses in an upper-division laboratory course. Through the analysis of 167 survey responses and 9 interviews, we found that students have varying perceptions of ownership despite working on the same projects. Common themes of how students define ownership include contributing ideas, doing the work, and being responsible for outcomes. Regardless of the level of ownership students had, student approaches to writing were largely considered pragmatic, which relies on given ideas and secondary literature to dictate what to write, as opposed to the genuine approach, which builds writing on original thoughts. Despite efforts to increase ownership, other course structures may reduce the authorial identity students have and demonstrate. If our goal is to provide authentic research and writing experiences through a course-based laboratory setting, we need to carefully consider how scientific writing is incorporated, as well as how course structures support the development of ownership and authorial identity.

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This item is under embargo until April 5, 2022.