Owning Up

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Science  08 Mar 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6124, pp. 1127
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6124.1127-b

One argument in favor of inquiry-based instruction is that it provides students with a sense of ownership over their learning. How do we characterize student ownership? Hanauer et al. examined the idea of project ownership among undergraduates involved in different types of laboratory experiences. A quantitative method for assessing project ownership was developed using both content and computational linguistic analysis of transcribed student interviews. A set of 14 elements, both positive and negative, that influenced the degree of project ownership experienced by a student was constructed. Five elements were found to foster student project ownership: facilitating personal agency, personal significance of the research project, scientific value of the scientific inquiry, social interaction and mentorship, and research that demands problem solving. Because the interviews for this study were conducted in 2008, the degree of student ownership could be correlated with the persistence of a scientific career. Students that expressed a higher level of project ownership also persisted further in science.

CBE—Life Sci. Educ. 11, 378 (2012).

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