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Open AccessArticle

Undergraduate Biology Students’ Teleological and Essentialist Misconceptions

1
Faculty of Sciences, University of Geneva, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
2
Faculty of Sciences, Section of Biology and University Institute of Teacher Education (IUFE), University of Geneva, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
3
Center for Teaching and Learning Support, University of Geneva, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
4
Faculty of Sciences, Section of Physics and University Institute of Teacher Education (IUFE), University of Geneva, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 135; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8030135
Received: 13 July 2018 / Revised: 24 August 2018 / Accepted: 27 August 2018 / Published: 31 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
Research in developmental psychology has shown that deeply-rooted, intuitive ways of thinking, such as design teleology and psychological essentialism, impact children’s scientific explanations about natural phenomena. Similarly, biology education researchers have found that students often hold inaccurate conceptions about natural phenomena, which often relate to these intuitions. In order to further investigate the relation between students’ conceptions and intuitions, we conducted a study with 93 first year undergraduate students in biology. They were asked to express their level of agreement or disagreement with six misconception statements and to explain their choices in a two-tier test. Results showed a tendency for students to agree with teleological and essentialist misconceptions. However, no association was found between students’ teleological and essentialist conceptions as expressed in their agreement or disagreement with the various misconception statements. Moreover, we found evidence of a variable consistency across students’ answers depending on the misconception considered, which indicates that item features and contexts may have an effect on students’ answers. All together, these findings provide evidence for considerable persistence of teleological and essentialist misconceptions among students. We suggest future directions for thinking, studying, and analyzing students’ conceptions about biological phenomena. View Full-Text
Keywords: teleology; essentialism; misconceptions; preconceptions; intuitions; conceptual obstacles teleology; essentialism; misconceptions; preconceptions; intuitions; conceptual obstacles
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Stern, F.; Kampourakis, K.; Huneault, C.; Silveira, P.; Müller, A. Undergraduate Biology Students’ Teleological and Essentialist Misconceptions. Educ. Sci. 2018, 8, 135.

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