Style Guide AIET Student Experiment The findings of your experimental work should be presented in a scientific report format that includes the following sections under sub-headings: Research questionRationale for the experimentMethodologyManagement of risksRaw and Processed DataAnalysis of EvidenceInterpretation and EvaluationReference List Overview of requirements and expectations for each section of the report Research Question This is a question which identifies the focus of the experiment and directs the scientific inquiry process. The purpose of the research question is to identify what is trying to be determined (i.e. what trend, pattern or relationship is trying to be found) and defines under what conditions the inquiry will be undertaken. Generic Research Question Format. Can/Does x affect y in z? Example Research Question. Does altering the wavelength of light affect the growth of a tomato plant over a two week period? A research question must: Be specificIdentify the independent and dependent variable/s.Identify the parameters under which the inquiry should be undertaken. e.g. In the example above, the experimenter wants to determine the relationship between the wavelength of light and the growth of a tomato plant. The independent variable is the wavelength of light and the dependent variable is the growth of a tomato plant. The parameter of the experiment is the timeframe of a two week period. Be relevantMust relate to the experiment you are modifying. Rationale This is a summary explaining the purpose of conducting the modified experiment and presents relevant biological background information to demonstrate your understanding of the topic. A rationale must: Explain the purpose of the experiment (i.e. application to society).Demonstrate your understanding of relevant biological information, which shows consideration of a range of variables and why you selected the independent and dependent variable in your research question. Methodology This identifies the original experiment for modification and outlines, with reasons the modifications made to the original experiment. Identify the original experiment that was modified.Explain the reasons for these modifications with links to theory. Table 1: Modification to experiment methodology Modification to Original ExperimentReasons for ModificationsExtending the range of the wavelengths from blue to violet.Chlorophyll a, the pigment primarily involved in photosynthesis, absorbs light from the violet-blue wavelengths. Therefore, extending the range to include violet light, allows for more valid conclusions to be drawn on the impact of wavelength of light on rate of photosynthesis. Management of risks This is a summary of the risks, ethical or environmental issues associated with the experiment and how you plan to handle these risks. A management of risks must: Identify the risks associated with the experiment.Describe strategies that you can use to manage/handle these risks or issues. Table 2: Management of risks Risk IdentifiedManagement StrategiesExposure to microorganisms present in soilWear gloves and wash hands to reduce skin contact with soil and remove potential pathogens. Ensure appropriate ventilation to reduce inhalation of microorganisms. Raw and Processed Data Raw data is the data that has been collected by you and it may be quantitative or qualitative. Typically in scientific experiments of this nature, quantitative data is preferred. Processed data is the data that you have performed further operations on to allow for easier identification of relationships, as well as easier analysis and interpretation of evidence. Processing of data may include averaging the data and producing an appropriate graphical representation of the data. Raw data must be: Sufficient to draw a conclusion from (i.e. a minimum of three trials of each dependent variable should be completed to allow for the identification of anomalies and reliable averaging of data. A minimum of five data points is required where a line of best fit will be used to determine the relationship between two variables).Relevant to the research question posed.Represented in the correct format e.g. show the appropriate use of units and include the correct number of decimal places (where appropriate). Processed data must: Represent data in a suitable format for relationships to be easily identified (column graph for discrete data and scatter graph for continuous data. Each graph should include appropriate error bars).Represent data in a suitable format for the analysis of evidence and consequent interpretation of the evidence.Show evidence of statistical analysis of your data (i.e. standard deviation, standard error and p value).Include at least one sample calculation for any operation performed on the raw data to demonstrate the method used to process the data e.g. an example of calculating an average. Analysis of evidence This is a statement of the major trends, patterns or relationships shown in the data. Also, thorough and appropriate identification of uncertainty and limitations of your data. An analysis of evidence must: Identify all the relevant trends, patterns or relationships Trends: describe the general direction in which a variable is changing, referring to specific data (e.g. there was a steady increase in growth over days 5 to 10)Patterns: describe a repeated occurrence or sequence (e.g. each wavelength of light produced a large increase in growth of the tomato plant between days 8 to 10)Relationships: describes a correlation between ideas or variables (e.g. as the intensity of light each plant was exposed to increased, the rate of photosynthesis increased) Identify the degree of uncertainty (standard error) and limitations of your data Interpretation and Evaluation This is an interpretation of the data to draw justified conclusions about the meaning, reliability and validity of your data. An interpretation and evaluation of evidence must: Interpret the data to draw justified conclusions linked to the research question.Evaluate the experimental method in order to decide upon the:Reliability i.e. whether the method could be repeated by another experimenter to obtain very similar results under the same conditions. (Consider whether your three trials produced consistent results and also whether your graphed results showed evidence of any outliers i.e. results that don’t match the trend or relationship shown by the majority of the results)Validity i.e. how well the method produces results that address the research question and how accurate the data produced from the experiment is. (Consider whether you chose a suitable range for your treatment groups, conducted enough repeats of the experiment and whether the measuring technique produced accurate data).Suggest improvements (i.e. refinements) to the experimental method that will improve its reliability and validity. You must indicate how these improvements will produce more reliable and valid data. NB. Suggested improvements must show clear reasoning and be logically derived from any flaws/weaknesses that you have identified in the data or method. Referencing This is where you indicate and acknowledge the sources of evidence used during the Student experiment. A Reference List must: Show correct formatting according to referencing conventions (APA format)Include the source of the original experiment (if available)Include the scientific sources that you referred to in the body of your report and during the process of making decisions about what modifications would be necessary to achieve the intended purpose of the experiment.Correlate to in-text referencing used throughout the report where appropriate. Meaning of key cognitive verbs associated with the Student Experiment: State provide information without further explanation. Describe give an account (written or spoken) of a situation, event, pattern or process, or of the characteristics or features of something. Identify distinguish; locate, recognise and name; establish or indicate who or what someone or something is; provide an answer from a number of possibilities; recognise and state a distinguishing factor or feature; draw meaning from, or give meaning to, information presented in various forms, such as words, symbols, pictures or graphs. Discuss examine by argument; sift the considerations for and against; debate; talk or write about a topic, including a range of arguments, factors or hypotheses; consider, taking into account different issues and ideas, points for and/or against, and supporting opinions or conclusions with evidence. Explain make an idea or situation plain or clear by describing it in more detail or revealing relevant facts; give an account; provide additional information; make the relationships between things evident; provide why and/or how. Summarise give a brief statement of a general theme or major point/s; present ideas and information in fewer words and in sequence. Interpret use knowledge and understanding to recognise trends and draw conclusions from given information; make clear or explicit; elucidate or understand in a particular way. Conclude come to a judgement or result based on the reasoning or arguments that you present. Justify give reasons or evidence to support an answer, response or conclusion; show or prove how an argument, statement or conclusion is right or reasonable. Evaluate make an appraisal by weighing up or assessing strengths, implications and limitations; make judgments about ideas, works, solutions or methods in relation to selected criteria; examine and determine the merit, value or significance of something, based on criteria. Analyse examine or consider something in order to explain and interpret it, for the purpose of finding meaning or relationships and identifying patterns, similarities and differences.
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