Spring 2019

Document Type

Master's Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Teacher Education


The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were implemented to increase students' scientific literacy, shifting the focus from teacher-centered to student-centered learning (NGSS Lead States, 2013). One result of this shift has been the increased use of project-based learning where learners can discover their own knowledge through a series of problem-solving tasks and projects. Student-developed models (i.e., three-dimensional models) is an application of projectbased learning that has shown to increase students' science literacy in higher grades (Bell, 2010; Krajcik & Merritt, 2012). This study investigated the effectiveness of utilizing student-developed models among middle school students to create a deeper understanding of key concepts (i.e., analyzing and interpreting data, constructing explanations, and engaging in arguments from evidence) to improve scientific literacy. The study used a quantitative nonequivalent two-group pretest-posttest quasi-experimental design. The treatment group participated in designing, testing, and redesigning a student-developed model car made from various household materials. The control group participated in standard science instruction (i.e., laboratory experiments, online interactives, and note taking). After a four week learning sequence for Newton's Laws of Motion, the data was analyzed using independent and paired t-tests. The data concluded a statistically significant difference for the treatment group when compared to the control group. Future studies should measure motivation, as the engagement from the treatment group could have been a determining factor in the founding results.