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After the AP® Exam: What Now?

DeeDee Whitaker
Product Content Specialist

April 2017


Your students worked hard and were well prepared. The AP® test has come and gone, and there’s still time left on the school calendar. So, what happens now?

Teachers have a variety of options—including research projects, career exploration, service learning projects, and college preparation projects, just to name a few. The literature on student preparedness for college highlights opportunities for strengthening student skills.

In a survey completed for Achieve, Inc., 50% of college instructors agreed with the statement that high school graduates are not prepared with the necessary math skills to enter college. Thirty-eight percent of students and 50% of college instructors indicated that the quality of student writing was also a stumbling block to success. Disturbingly, 44% of surveyed high school graduates attending college reported that they were not prepared for college level science courses (Thompson 2005).


Why do students fail?

A 2014 study asked a group of post-secondary professors and administrators for their perspectives on why students fail courses and fail out of college. Data from earlier research on students’ self-reported reasons for failure indicated the top 3 were lack of motivation, poor study habits, and inadequate academic preparedness (Bain 2004).

Interestingly, these are personal factors that students can control (Cherif et al. 2014). When faculty members were surveyed, student-related factors topped the list of root causes of student failure. Student-related factors leading to poor academic performance included the inability to think critically, lack of scientific reasoning skills, poor note-taking skills, lack of time management skills, the inability to set priorities, the inability to express oneself in writing, and not knowing how to study and learn (Cherif et al. 2014).


Ideas for promoting learning and thinking skills

As science teachers, we can promote learning skills and critical thinking. Now is a great time to work on technical writing skills. Extended, multifaceted projects provide students with the opportunity to allot and manage time and be active learners. Below are ideas from talented teachers on how to engage students in a way that develops their learning and thinking skills while still giving them room to be creative. The ideas share themes of enrichment, exploration, and elaboration. 

  • Have a weekly science book club meeting in class. There are great course-specific bibliographies online. Work on content synthesis, writing, verbal expression, and vocabulary.
  • Use a course Big Idea or topic to write and illustrate a children’s book, and then share the book with local elementary students. Work on time management, simplifying content, and writing.
  • Use a course Big Idea or topic to make a video or podcast, then share it with local elementary students, middle school students, or the community. Work on time management, simplifying content, and writing.
  • Prepare a public service announcement (PSA) for the school or community relevant to course topics. Work on time management, simplifying content, and writing.
  • Complete community or school service learning projects, such as water-quality testing for adjoining neighborhoods, and then present a summative report. Work on time management, organizational skills, data analysis, and technical writing.
  • Tag and label trees and shrubs for a nature walk. Map the walk. Work on spatial thinking skills.
  • Improve school grounds. Work on time management, planning skills, spatial thinking.
  • Construct or maintain a school/community garden for flowers or food. Work on time management and organizational skills.
  • Investigate a science-related career of interest, determine what college major and courses are needed, and shadow a person on the job. Work on critical thinking, time management, organizational skills, and note-taking skills.
  • Take a favorite lesson and make improvements. Take a least favorite lesson and make improvements. Work on critical thinking, organizational skills, note-taking skills, and scientific thinking.
  • Write an advice column for next year’s AP® students addressing necessary study skills, prerequisites, content, lab skills, etc. Work on critical thinking, time management, organizational skills, and writing skills.


Extend your curriculum

Explore and engage students with hands-on experiences that encourage them to think critically and scientifically, apply data analysis, and employ technical writing skills. These kits can extend your curriculum while encouraging students to think and explore.


AP® Biology

Dissections

Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy Kit (item #221050)
This kit offers students a dissection experience in which they explore the anatomy and physiology of 4 vertebrates.

Exploring Mammalian Tissue Types Kit (item #228095)
Students study mammalian anatomy with this comprehensive classroom kit and experience the levels of organization in an organism using the fetal pig as a model.

Dogfish Shark Dissection BioKit® (item #221448)
Students working in pairs study the external anatomy of the dogfish shark, a cartilaginous fish, and explore its internal organs and organ systems through guided dissection.


Forensics

Exploring Electrophoresis and Forensics Classroom Kit (item #211014)
This technically simple experiment simulates the use of DNA in forensic investigations.

Carolina™ Forensic Dissection Kit
Students conduct a forensic pig dissection by modeling the protocols used by a pathologist for a human autopsy. 

Who Owns These Bones? Kit  (item #246732)
Students become forensic detectives in a local missing persons case. 

Flowers for Freddy Forensics Kit (item #223434)
With Carolina's Flowers for Freddy Forensics Kit, students acquire and use botanical knowledge and skills to solve a crime. 

Caught by a Kiss, Forensics for the Biology Lab Kit (item #212015)
Students act as crime scene technicians to figure out which pieces of evidence from multiple crime scenes contain potentially useful DNA information. 


Nanotechnology

Carolina ChemKits®: Exploring Nanotechnology Kit  (item #840730)
In this guided-inquiry experiment, students determine the antimicrobial properties of a nanoscale silver solution and study the benefits, limitations, and environmental impacts of nanotechnology products.


AP® Chemistry

Forensic Chemistry

If It’s Sour, If It’s Slippery: Forensics for the Biology Lab Kit (item #212020)
Using evidence isolated from a "crime scene," students attempt to identify various solids and liquids based on their pH and buffering capacity. 

Carolina Beyond the Tape®: Lake Carson Crisis Chemistry Kit (item #211829)
Students assume the role of environmental forensic scientists to solve a fictional crime, an algal bloom breakout, by integrating core concepts in biology, chemistry, and physics. 


Environmental Chemistry

Carolina ChemKits®: Production of Biodiesel Kit (item #841148)
This kit addresses a timely topic—biodiesel—while practicing timeless laboratory techniques, such as titration.


Nanotechnology

Carolina ChemKits®: Exploring Nanotechnology Kit (item #840730)
In this guided-inquiry experiment, students determine the antimicrobial properties of a nanoscale silver solution and study the benefits, limitations, and environmental impacts of nanotechnology products.


Organic Chemistry

Inquiries in Science®: Introducing Organic Chemistry Kit (item #251218)
Students explore the chemistry of carbon using a variety of modeling methods.

Introduction to Organic Chemistry Microchemistry Kit (item #840996)
Students study the chemical reactivity, water solubility, and pH of 5 types of organic compounds: alkanes, alkenes, alcohols, aldehydes, and carboxylic acids. 


AP® Environmental Science

Forensic Science

If It’s Sour, If It’s Slippery: Forensics for the Biology Lab Kit (item #212020)
Using evidence isolated from a "crime scene," students attempt to identify various solids and liquids based on their pH and buffering capacity. 

Carolina Beyond the Tape: Lake Carson Crisis Interdisciplinary Kit (item #211833P)
Students assume the role of environmental forensic scientists to solve a fictional crime, an algal bloom breakout, by integrating core concepts in biology, chemistry, and physics. 


Environmental Chemistry

Carolina ChemKits®: Production of Biodiesel Kit (item #841148)
This kit addresses a timely topic—biodiesel—while practicing timeless laboratory techniques, such as titration.

Inquiries in Science®: Introducing Organic Chemistry Kit (item #251218)
Students explore the chemistry of carbon using a variety of modeling methods.


Sources

ACT. 2017. “ACT College Readiness Benchmarks.” https://www.act.org/content/act/en/education-and-career-planning/college-and-career-readiness-standards/benchmarks.html.

ACT. 2016. “The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2016.” https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/CCCR_National_2016.pdf.

Cherif, Abour H., Gerald E. Adams, Farahnaz Movahedzadeh, Marharet A. Martyn, and Jeremy Dunning. 2014. “Why Do Students Fail? Faculty’s Perspective.” Paper presented at the annual conference of the Higher Learning Commission, Chicago, Illinois, April 10–14. http://cop.hlcommission.org/Learning-Environments/cherif/Print.html.

Thompson, Josh. 2005. “High schools lacking in college preparation.” The Lantern, February 14.
http://thelantern.com/2005/02/high-schools-lacking-in-college-preparation/.

 

AP® is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board®, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, these products.

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