Hands-on learning is at the heart of science learning. This study examined increased changes of student content knowledge in biology, particularly biotechnology, after a hands-on biotechnology intervention was implemented into a secondary school. A traditional learning school was selected for a control. Both teachers had participated in a biotechnology professional development program called Project Crawfish. Students from both schools took the same assessment before and after their respective units (biotechnology intervention and genetics unit), and the classroom was the unit of analysis (n=5, n=6, respectively). The assessment was compared as a whole and then divided into five components, eight questions each: DNA extraction/gel electrophoresis, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), DNA sequencing, bioinformatics, and phylogenetics. The pre-tests were compared to establish a baseline between the two schools. The biotechnology intervention school began with a higher pre-test raw score than the traditional learning school. After adjusting for the pre-test scores, each school was analyzed for increases in student content knowledge and then compared to each other for any significant increases between the two schools. When the entire assessment was analyzed, each school had statistically significant increases in student content knowledge (<0.0001 for the biotechnology intervention school and 0.0481 for the traditional learning school). When the schools were compared to each other, a p-value of 0.0543 provided a suggestive relationship that the biotechnology intervention school had a larger increase in student content knowledge. When the assessment was divided into the five components, the traditional learning school had statistically significant increases in student content knowledge in the PCR and DNA sequencing components (0.0459, 0.0043, respectively). The biotechnology intervention school had statistically significant increases in student content knowledge in all five components. However, there were no significant differences in learning between the two schools. Implementing biotechnology through hands-on teaching methods should be considered by secondary science teachers. Further research would scale up this study to include more classrooms.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Biology



Date Submitted


Document Type





hands-on, biotechnology, biology, student content knowledge



Included in

Biology Commons