Action research implemented to improve Zoology laboratory activities in a freshman biology majors course

  • Jennifer Leigh Myka, Ph.D.
  • Dianne Raubenheimer, Ph.D.
Keywords: Science, Education, Zoology, Biology Majors, Students, Freshman, Laboratory


Action research was used to explore student impressions of both learning and enjoyment associated with specific laboratory exercises in two semesters of a Zoology laboratory. The initial laboratories had primarily included observations of slides, preserved and living specimens, and group dissections of preserved animals, all lower cognitive levels according to our analysis using Bloom's taxonomy. Four laboratory activities (Annelids, Molluscs, Arthropods, and Echinoderms) were altered to include higher levels of intellectual challenge, as reflected in an increase in the use of verbs associated with higher levels according to Bloom's taxonomy. Improved and expanded animal behavior experiments, a dichotomous key activity, tables of structures and function, classification exercises, and a model building activity were added to the traditional laboratory observation and dissections. A survey was given at the end of the semester in both 2002 and 2003 to assay student reactions to the new activities, as well as to compare both student learning and student enjoyment for each type of activity done in the laboratory throughout the semester to determine if student enjoyment and student learning were correlated. In addition, the results of the survey were compared with results of a lab practical exam for one semester to determine if student impressions of learning correlated with performance. The results of this study will be used to further adjust Zoology laboratory activities to maximize both student enjoyment and student learning. In addition, a closer look at dissections as an intellectually challenging learning experience learning tool will be implemented in following semesters.

Author Biographies

Jennifer Leigh Myka, Ph.D.
Thomas More College
Dianne Raubenheimer, Ph.D.
North Carolina State University