Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Society needs scientists who can collaborate to become keener analysts so that they might better inform citizens. College students who are well educated in science are likely to become better analysts. The purpose of this grounded theory constructivist-oriented study was to illuminate the influence of undergraduate freshman inquiry learning on thinking skills in science courses during the senior college year. The conceptual framework involved the 3 components of the cognitive learning cycle: exploration, concept invention, and application. Research questions concerned college seniors' perceptions of their freshman process-oriented guided inquiry learning (POGIL) experience in general chemistry and its influence on their current learning in terms of data collection and interpretation, knowledge synthesis, and group interaction. Currently, little or no such senior student perception data exist. The grounded theory approach was used in an inductive analysis toward developing a model of action deriving from the participants' perceptions. Individual and discussion group interviews were conducted with 15 college seniors. Data were sent to participants for member checking, were peer reviewed, were coded, and were analyzed for patterns and themes. Participants reported that collaboration within POGIL promoted freshman and senior cognitive learning, particularly in concept practice, problem solving, and leadership. The findings indicate that improved understanding of the benefits of POGIL can help college chemistry course designers appreciate the benefits of collaborative activities in science. The resulting social change may be that graduates of such courses provide leadership and collaborative skills in their adult lives, benefitting society.