Session D: 3:30PM – 5PM

Sciences. Session D – Oral Presentations. Collegiate Room, Union

SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)
COLLEGIATE ROOM, A. Ray Olpin University Union



Changes in Evolutionary Acceptance Following Introductory Biology, 2011-2021
Sawyer Baum, Utah Valley University

Faculty Mentor T. Heath Ogden, Utah Valley University

SESSION D 3:30-3:45PM
Collegiate, Union
Science and Technology

In 2019 Miller and colleagues found that 52% of the general public accepted evolution compared to only 45% in 1985. This change in acceptance is most likely influenced by multiple factors, education, decreased religiosity, age, role models, and survey format (Miller et al., 2006; Barnes et al., 2019; Holt et al., 2018 & Pew Research Center, 2019). Our objective in this study was to identify any trends that might have been present among Introductory Biology students at a large public university over 2011-2021. During that time period students were asked if they accepted biological evolution before and after the semester’s instruction. We found an increase in both student’s acceptance of evolution over that time period with 25% of students accepting evolution in 2011 and 44% in 2021. In this study, there were two types of course delivery, face-to-face and online courses, all of which were given the same question and survey delivery. There was no significant difference in acceptance between course structure as there was a 28% and 26% increase on average in acceptance for face-to-face courses and online courses following respectively.  Overall, acceptance of evolution is increasing among Introductory Biology students both prior and after the semester.



Medical Conditions and Stem Motivation at an Open Enrollment Institution
Porter Bischoff, Utah Valley University

Faculty Mentor Britt Wyatt, Utah Valley University

SESSION D 3:50-4:05PM
Collegiate, Union

Prior research has investigated the recruitment and retention of certain student identities (such as gender and ethnicity) in STEM courses and careers. Recruitment and retention in STEM can be influenced by a student’s connection to the STEM community, science identity, and engagement. Yet none of this research has investigated the impact of having either a medical experience or chronic condition on our STEM students despite other research indicating medical students with medical conditions are less likely to complete their degree. Additionally, individuals with medical conditions tend to feel disconnected from others and experience higher levels of stress during their life. Thus, it is important to study the potential impacts of medical experiences and conditions on undergraduate students. This study explores the potential impacts of having a medical experience or chronic condition on students taking science classes at an open enrollment institution.  Specifically, we hypothesized acute medical experiences may include a limited number of interruptions to one’s daily lifestyle and education and thus have a smaller impact on science students in comparison to students with chronic medical conditions. We specially focused on how acute medical experiences and chronic conditions may be related to varying levels of student science career motivation, science interest, science self-determination, engagement of science outside of the classroom, communal view of science, and value of peers in their classroom. Pre-course data was collected from 1280 students across 14 biology courses (including non-majors) taught by 16 different instructors at a focused-teaching institution. Surprisingly, 55% of students surveyed reported having an experience with an acute medical condition and 20% reported having a chronic condition. This indicates that medical experiences and chronic medical conditions are indeed an important and large identity to investigate further. Interestingly, there were no significant variations for students with acute medical experiences across science career motivation, science interest, science self-determination, engagement of science outside of the classroom, communal view of science, and value of peers in their classroom. However, we did see significant differences for students with chronic medical conditions depending on the major of the student (biology major, non-biology STEM major, pre-health professional major, or non-STEM major). Specifically, non-STEM majors had more appreciation and engagement with STEM if they also had a chronic medical condition. Further investigation of the potential differences for students with chronic medical conditions will continue to be explored with a post-survey.


Examining Motivation through STEM courses by GPA and Major
Kody Garrett, Utah Valley University

Faculty Mentor Britt Wyatt, Utah Valley University

SESSION D 4:10-4:25PM
Collegiate, Union
Science and Technology

With an increase of diverse students entering college (including non-traditional and first-generation students), it is important students are engaged in science. To be engaged in science, students might be motivated by both external (grade and career motivation) and internal factors (interest in science). Previous research has been conducted to determine internal and external motivational factors and the impact of those factors on student achievement in class (GPA).  However, most of this research has been done at research-intensive institutions and not at open enrollment teaching focused institutions that tend to have a larger non-traditional and first-generation student populations.Therefore, research on the student populations at an open-enrollment institution is needed. Our study focused on various declared majors (Pre-Professional, Biology, Non-Biology STEM and Non-STEM) of students who were taking science classes and their self-reported GPA in addition to other factors in the beginning of the semester. As such our research questions were: 1) Which majors at a teaching focused, open enrollment institution, will have a higher science interest and career motivation? 2) How does science interest and career motivation at an open enrollment, teaching focused institution relate back to student science identity and career choice? A survey was sent out amongst 18 Biology department courses ranging from non-major introductory Biology courses to advanced Biology major courses. Comparisons were drawn between all majors for interest, career motivation and GPA by using one-way ANOVA to determine how different all the groups were from each other. A bonforroni post test was used to show a more detailed difference between groups. Our results indicated that there was significant difference between majors on interest and career motivation but no significant difference on overall GPA(this might be due in part to the self-reported aspect of this question). Those who declared themselves as Biology majors had the highest science interest, while those who were Non-STEM majors had the lowest science interest. Biology and Pre-Professional majors had approximately the same level of career motivation which is significantly higher than Non-Biology STEM and Non-STEM majors. Further research will be conducted on how much science interest plays a role in motivating students’ career choice and science identity in a post-survey.


Is general chemistry too costly? How different groups of students perceive the effort and emotional costs of taking a chemistry course and the relationship to achievement
Cassidy Wilkes, Southern Utah University

Faculty Mentor Guizella  Rocabado, Southern Utah University

SESSION D 4:30-4:45PM
Collegiate, Union

It is well known that chemistry is one of the most feared courses in college. Although many students enjoy learning about science, most of them perceive that chemistry is “too difficult”. These perceptions of chemistry result in many students not considering STEM majors because they require chemistry courses. Ultimately, these perceptions are also thought to be related to high attrition rates of students who begin STEM majors but do not persist. The perceived cost of studying chemistry is a notion that many researchers have spoken about, but have not formally investigated. Students’ perceived costs of a chemistry class can be many, such as task effort, loss of valued alternatives, emotional, and others. These costs might be overcome  by students’ interests and goals, yet the level of perceived costs might have a lasting impact on the students’ overall perception of chemistry and their desire to pursue chemistry and other STEM careers in the future. In this mixed methods study we investigated task effort and emotional cost, as well as a mastery or performance goal orientation and the impact these constructs may have on achievement in general chemistry classrooms. Utilizing cluster analysis as well as student interviews, we investigated students’ profile of perceived cost and goal orientation as it relates to their final grades. Our results show that students who are well prepared for general chemistry, such as those who have taken AP chemistry in high-school, display less negative perceived costs and thus believe they can master the material more fully. Other interesting results have also emerged from this research, which have the potential to have an impact on future instruction of these courses.


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Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research 2023 - Program by Office of Undergraduate Research is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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