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Great Lakes Research Center


This quantitative, exploratory study examined whether a Project-Based Guided Inquiry (PBGI) chemistry laboratory course supported more incremental ability beliefs among students, examined achievement outcomes for students grouped based on changes in student-reported chemistry ability beliefs from pre- to post-course, and provided explanations for differences in achievement and chemistry ability beliefs. Data sources included pre/post surveys of 367 undergraduate students' and 18 teaching assistants' (TAs) content knowledge, ability beliefs, sociodemographics (e.g., gender, race), and prior chemistry experience. The hierarchical linear regression (HLR) model accounted for 27.4% of the variance in post-content scores, with male students and students with more prior chemistry experience scoring significantly higher than their counterparts. Student ability beliefs was not a significant predictor of content knowledge at the end of the course. Women had a significant decrease in their ability beliefs while male students did not. Furthermore, there were significant differences in achievement depending upon whether and how students' chemistry ability beliefs changed during the course. HLR indicated that student race and TA research experience significantly predicted students' ability beliefs and accounted for 32.7% of variance in this model. Finally, students had more positive perceptions of their TA when their TA held more incremental ability beliefs. These results also indicate that redesigning undergraduate chemistry labs to a PBGI approach does not necessarily level the academic playing field for students who identified as Black, Hispanic, or Multi-racial, women, or students with less chemistry experience. Providing additional scaffolding for students and developing professional learning experiences to explicitly support TAs incremental ability beliefs may be beneficial in reform-based laboratory contexts. Further research is needed to understand who benefits from reform-based instruction and for what reasons.

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© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Research in Science Teaching published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of National Association for Research in Science Teaching. Publisher’s version of record:

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Journal of Research in Science Teaching


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