Heredity is a biological phenomenon that manifests itself on different levels of biological organization. The yo-yo learning and teaching strategy, which draws on the hierarchy of life, has been developed to tackle the macro-micro problem and to foster coherent understanding of genetic phenomena. Its wider applicability was suggested and since then yo-yo learning seems to be noticed in the biology education research community. The aim of this paper is to reappraise yo-yo thinking in biology education research based on its uptake and any well-considered adaptations by other researchers in the past fifteen years. Based on a literature search we identified research that explicitly and substantially build on the characteristics of yo-yo thinking. Seven questions guided the analysis of chosen cases focussing on how key concepts are matched to levels of biological organization, interrelated, and embedded in a pattern of explanatory reasoning. The analysis revealed that yo-yo thinking as a heuristic of systems thinking has been an inspiring idea to promote coherent conceptual understanding of various biological phenomena. Although, selective use has been made of the yo-yo strategy, the strategy was also further elaborated to include the molecular level. Its functioning as a meta-cognitive tool requires more specification, and teachers’ perceptions and experiences regarding yo-yo thinking should be addressed in future studies.
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