Technological developments in fields such as medicine, agriculture, industry, etc. shape the future educational approaches and the curricula are updated accordingly. As stated in the science curriculum of the Turkish Ministry of National Education (MoNE) [1
] and U.S National Research Council (NRC) [2
] the comprehensive goal of science curricula is science literacy. Genetics and biotechnology in science education are an integral part of science literacy. For this reason, curricula are important in individuals’ decision-making situations related to biotechnological processes [3
]. Although biotechnology is an important and rapidly advancing field, it has not been a common subject of teaching in science education, particularly in public schools [4
]. Due to some reasons such as teachers’ inadequate academic skills, limited time and funding for experimental activities, science teachers avoid teaching biotechnology subjects [5
]. In addition, the fact that teachers or school administrators have personal opinions about the applications of biotechnology reduces the possibility of focusing on these subjects in their classrooms, because teachers have no positive perceptions due to the lack of resources available to teachers [6
]. To solve these problems, it is necessary to design applied activities related to biotechnology and to provide appropriate teaching environments [7
]. The use of innovative teaching approaches is an effective way to provide new science education standards. Innovative teaching positively affects students’ performance [8
]. Moreover, it has been reported that innovative learning-teaching methods increase students’ interest and improve classroom environments [9
]. It has been reported that teachers have positive attitudes towards the application of innovative learning approaches [10
] and a positive relationship between teachers’ innovative learning performances and educational qualifications [11
In this respect, there is a need for innovative biotechnology education environments for science teachers.
1.1. Teaching of Genetics and Biotechnology Topics
Biotechnology is the use of an organism, components of an organism, or biological systems to create a product or a process. Nowadays, scientific developments in the field of biotechnology make biotechnology education important. Biotechnology is addressed directly as technology literacy in USA [12
]. In the National Science Course Curriculum, the subject of biotechnology is addressed within the unite “DNA and Genetic Code” with three learning outcomes from the 8th grade of elementary education onwards [1
]. Through these learning outcomes, it is intended to make students discuss the relationship between biotechnology and genetic engineering, useful and harmful aspects of biotechnology applications and future applications of biotechnology.
Concepts related to genetics and biotechnology (DNA fingerprint, DNA analysis, genome project etc.) are difficult to learn [13
]. A study has found that university students have inadequate knowledge in the fields of biotechnology and environmental education and their awareness in these fields change depending on their academic achievement [14
]. In addition, it has been noted that while pre-service teachers were aware of biotechnological applications, they could not answer the questions about genetic information and biotechnological processes correctly [15
]. A study has reported that pre-service biology teachers had low levels of knowledge of gene technologies [16
]. Similar results have been reported in other studies, indicating that pre-service teachers have various misconceptions about biotechnology and gene engineering [17
Studies show that individuals have limitations on genetic and biotechnology issues. There are also studies on the use of classroom environments or laboratories for the teaching of these subjects. For example, in a study conducted with pre-service science teachers, it was reported that the use of animation and models related to the concept of DNA led to more permanent learning than mere lecturing [19
]. As a result of the use of laboratory applications in teaching basic biotechnology subjects, some increase was achieved in the knowledge and opinions of teachers and pre-service teachers about biotechnology [20
]. Orhan [21
] found that as a result of a study on pre-service science teachers, laboratory activities related to DNA technologies enhanced the pre-service teachers’ perceptions of DNA technologies and applications and positively affected their attitudes towards technology. Key to success in biotechnology classes is the integration of theory with practice. Biotechnology laboratory teaching will be more effective when students can play an active role in laboratory design and procedures [22
1.2. Laboratory-Based Learning
Laboratory experiences are direct interactions with the physical world in which scientific tools and research skills are used together with various tools and materials in the development and interpretation of scientific knowledge [23
]. Various approaches are used in laboratories to facilitate learning. These are inductive, discovery, scientific process skills, technical skills and deductive approaches [24
] (p. 49). The hypothesis-driven laboratory approach, which has become popular recently, helps students to develop their research skills [25
]. Hypothesis-driven laboratory activities develop the skills of using the scientific method and laboratory technical skills as well as content knowledge [26
]. The technical skills development approach is required to conduct the experiments or tasks to improve technical skills related to the installation and use of some special tools or experimental setups such as microscopes. Technical skills are not limited to the introduction, operation and correct use of the equipment’ to be used in the experimental process, but in some cases, they can include the maintenance and repair of this kind of equipment and their repair even though limited [27
] (pp. 210–211). In the study conducted with biology teachers, it was reported that there is a direct correlation between the conception of laboratory technique and asking research questions [28
]. It is observed that laboratory activities are effective in developing problem solving skills [29
]. Jarette, et al. [30
], in their study, provided the opportunity for undergraduate students to learn basic concepts and to experience with biotechnological tools by using inquiry and problem-solving approaches in order to teach basic principles and concepts about sickle cell anemia. In spite of the benefits of laboratory practices, there may be difficulties such as not being economical, requiring time for implementation, teachers’ lack of adequate knowledge and skills, and unsuitable course schedule [24
] (pp. 48–49). Researchers use different methods to overcome these difficulties. For example, Bowling, Zimmer and Pyatt [31
] pointed out that next-generation sequencing technologies are difficult to deliver in the laboratory due to the high cost involved though they have yielded significant developments in the field of medicine and genome research. Therefore, interactive laboratory environments have been developed to teach biotechnological processes.
1.3. Innovative Teaching Approaches
Innovation in education can be seen as a new pedagogical theory, methodological approach, instructional technique, teaching tool, or as a theoretical structure that creates a significant change in teaching and learning and that leads to better learning on the part of the students when applied [32
]. It is observed that the methods and techniques currently adopted for innovation in science education are integrated into teaching environments with an interdisciplinary approach such as integration of technology in science education, science-technology-engineering-mathematics (STEM), etc. In some studies, game-based learning environments are considered as an innovative teaching approach. It has been stated that game-based teaching will help students to develop technological awareness and to overcome difficulties in their professional development [33
]. Lin and Tsai [34
] stated that using technology to enhance learning in science education has become an important trend and found that virtual reality, mobile learning, ubiquitous learning, augmented learning and game-based learning approaches are generally used as innovative technologies in science teaching. Similarly, Istance and Kools [35
] pointed to the relationship between innovation and technology in education. In another study, the event-based learning approach has been used as a tool for collecting data, evaluating data, proposing innovative ideas and writing to promote students’ innovative thinking and entrepreneurship. Through such innovative approaches, innovative thinking and achievement are claimed to be promoted [36
]. Fiksl, Flogie and Abersek [9
], stated that the innovative didactic model based on the problem-based and research-based teaching approaches that they had developed proved to be an innovative approach in Science, Engineering and Technology education. Kavacık, Yanpar Yelken and Sürmeli [37
] stated that innovative project studies is one of the methods that can provide innovation in modern science education. Martins and Martel [38
] compared the traditional laboratory techniques with innovative laboratory research projects including scientific thinking, scientific writing and speaking and presentation of outcomes as posters. As a result of the study, it was reported that the students’ conducting experimental data analysis and scientific discussions and working in cooperation with each other can make positive contributions to their achievement. Oyelekan, Igbokwe and Olorundare [39
], reported that the majority of science teachers see laboratory and model use as an innovative strategy in science education.
1.4. Problem Statement
In recent years, it has been emphasized that science education that only teaches the nature of science is not sufficient and that scientific knowledge should be open to revision in the light of new findings provided by new generation disciplines [40
]. Although many science curricula include scientific process skills such as interpretation of data, problem solving, experimental design, scientific writing, verbal communication, collaboration, science teacher training programs in universities are limited to the transfer of these skills to undergraduate students [41
]. Biotechnology is an interdisciplinary field of science and addressed in science courses from primary education to tertiary education [1
]. However, studies on biotechnology education show that there are several deficiencies. The main reason for these deficiencies is inadequate incorporation of the subject of biotechnology into curricula and teachers’ lack of biotechnology-related competences [5
]. It is thought that teachers with limited knowledge and skills cannot contribute to the spread of science culture in society. Moreover, when the literature is reviewed, it is seen that studies focusing on attitudes [14
], knowledge [16
], opinions [45
] about biotechnology applications in science education are available but studies related to biotechnology laboratory activities with innovative approaches are limited. The teaching of the multi-disciplinary subject of biotechnology with a single approach restricts its teaching ability. It is thought that the activities developed with the integration of more than one teaching approach will be effective in eliminating the problems experienced in biotechnology education. Therefore, the development of biotechnology instructional tasks prepared based on innovative teaching approaches for science teachers is the main aim of the study.
For the training of teachers with developmental levels specified in international standards, their research experiences should be supported and encouraged through university-school cooperation for their professional, scientific and technological development. In this context, it is aimed to interactively inculcate necessary knowledge and skills in science teachers by means of innovative approaches, strategies, methods and techniques so that they can arouse their students’ interest and curiosity, they can develop positive attitudes in their students and they can increase their students’ motivation towards biotechnology subjects.
The research question of the current study can be expressed as follows: “What is the effect of instructional tasks prepared based on innovative instructional approaches on science teachers’ biotechnology knowledge and laboratory experiences?”
On the basis of the research problems, the following hypotheses were developed.
Hypothesis 1. (H1):
The science teachers’ biotechnology knowledge and awareness vary significantly after the implementation of the biotechnology instructional tasks prepared based on innovative approaches.
Hypothesis 2. (H2):
The science teachers’ laboratory experiences and technical skills vary significantly after the implementation of the biotechnology instructional tasks prepared based on innovative approaches.
1.5. Significance of the Study
The quality of science education in schools should be improved to ensure success in science education. When the studies carried out to increase the quality of science education are examined, it is seen that each teaching approach has pros and cons. What is important here is that the specific approach to the topic to be taught should be chosen correctly.
Considering the interdisciplinary nature of biotechnology, the current study adopts and changes innovative teaching approaches in such a way as to meet the needs of biotechnology education. Experimental design principles are used by focusing on real world problems related to biotechnology.
Activities emphasize cooperative teamwork by focusing on advanced science and technology content related to biotechnology. These activities guide teachers in preparing them for complex situations they will inevitably face at school or in their daily lives. Our aim is not to tell individuals what to think, but to provide the information they will need to make their own decisions. In addition, this study will serve as an example of innovative laboratory instructional tasks related to biotechnology applications in thus science education, can make great contributions.
3.1. The First Sub-Problem of the Study Seeks an Answer to the Question “What is the Science Teachers’ Biotechnology Knowledge and Awareness?”
When the participants’ responses given prior to the implementation of the instructional task to the Biotechnology Awareness Questionnaire were examined, it is seen that the responses given to the Question 1 and Question 2 show diversity (Table 3
and Table 4
When the majority of the participants defined biotechnology, they emphasized the themes of “technology” (n
= 5) and “bioengineering applications” (n
= 6). Moreover, as they emphasized the theme of “productions”, it can be said that they see biotechnology as a process of product development. When the responses given to Question 2 are examined, it is seen that the participants are most knowledgeable about “medical applications” (n
= 15) and “agricultural applications” (n
= 12) of biotechnology. All the participating science teachers stated that they found DNA fingerprint more reliable (Question 3. In a forensic event, is DNA fingerprint less reliable than the testimony of an eye-witness? Explain it). But, their reasons for this were found to be different. A large majority of the participants (n
= 11) stated that DNA is more reliable as it is specific to a person. They were of the opinion that as the scope of biotechnology is remarkably broad (n
= 6) and it is a developing discipline (n
= 7), it can create new job opportunities (Question 4. Can biotechnology create new job opportunities? Explain it). Moreover, all the participating science teachers stated that the public is not informed about biotechnological applications in question 5 (Do you think people are well-informed about biotechnological applications?). When the mean scores (M) for the multiple-choice questions in the Biotechnology Awareness Questionnaire were examined, it was seen that they have a medium level of awareness of biotechnology (n
= 17, M = 4.22). The participants got the highest mean score for the item “One of the forensic biotechnology applications is DNA fingerprint” (n
= 17, M = 4.88) while the lowest mean score (n
= 17, M = 3.65) was for the item “Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field in which information technologies are used to analyze biological processes.” (see Appendix C
When the results obtained from the participants’ responses to the Biotechnology Evaluation Questions prior to the implementation of the instructional task were examined, it was seen that the participants’ biotechnology methodological and technical knowledge was weak (n = 17, M = 0.75). When the questions were examined individually, it was seen that their level of knowledge about the question “What are the steps of DNA isolation? Please explain.” was low (n = 17, M = 0.35) while the highest number of correct answers was given to the question “Please write the types and functions of biotechnology.” (n = 17, M = 1.47).
When the responses given after the completion of the tasks to the open-ended questions in the Biotechnology Awareness Questionnaire were evaluated, it was seen that the themes emphasized by the participants was more diversified. While the numbers of the themes emerging before and after the execution of tasks were found to have not changed, the themes were found to have changed (Table 3
and Table 4
). The theme most emphasized by the participants before and after the instructional tasks was found to be the theme of “bioengineering applications” (n
= 6) (Question 1). When the responses to the Question 2 were examined, it was seen that the participants’ responses related to the applications of biotechnology are collected under five themes before the implementation of the tasks, the number of themes increased to eight after the implementation tasks. Three new themes, “animal applications, environmental applications and DNA technology” were added to the five themes having emerged before the implementation of the tasks (Table 4
). All of the participants were of the opinion that forensic biotechnology is more reliable than the testimony of a witness before and after the tasks. Moreover, from this sentence “…Because it includes certain evidence…(P11)”,
it was understood that they put emphasis on the reliability of science. While the participants were of the opinion that biotechnology can create new job opportunities as it was “interdisciplinary” and “emerging science” before the implementation of the tasks, after the implementation of the tasks besides these characteristics of biotechnology, they also emphasized another characteristic of “creating new products”. After the the implementation of the tasks, they were again thinking that the public is not informed well about biotechnological applications due to the same reasons. According to the results of the Biotechnology Awareness Questionnaire, it was concluded that the instructional tasks led to a significant difference in the teachers’ awareness of biotechnology (p
< 0.05). Moreover, Cohen’s d
(0.68) value showed that the effect size between the means was medium (0.51–1.00) (Table 5
The results of science teachers’ responses to the Biotechnology Evaluation Questions before and after the implementation of the instructional tasks are shown in Figure 1
While 50% of the teachers provided “Unrelated/Empty” answers before the implementation of the tasks, the rate of “Correct answers” after the implementation of the tasks was found to be 46% (Figure 1
). Furthermore, as a result of the comparison of the pretest and posttest results obtained from the scoring of the categories determined with the rubric, a statistically significant difference was found. The effect size calculated as Cohen’s d
(0.91) showed that the effect size between the means was high (>1.01) (Table 6
). Therefore, Hypothesis 1 is accepted.
3.2. The Second Sub-Problem of the Study Seeks an Answer to the Question “What are the Science Teachers’ Laboratory Experiences and Technical Skills?”
The instructional tasks designed to enhance the participants’ biotechnology laboratory experiences included more than one instructional approach. The instructional approaches involved in the instructional tasks conducted in the current study and the categories formed for evaluation are shown in Table 7
The rubrics developed to evaluate the worksheets include different objectives. As a result of the content analysis, these objectives were gathered under four categories depending on their effects on laboratory experiences as readiness, research design, laboratory practices and evaluation. The frequency distribution of the scores taken by the participants from the laboratory experiences within the context of all the activities is given in Figure 2
Of the participating teachers, 51% obtained four points for the category of readiness and 63% obtained four points for the category of research design, which showed that they were successful at the advanced level in these categories. The highest ratio of participants (15%) obtained one point for the category of laboratory practices. When the mean scores were examined across the instructional tasks, the lowest mean score (M = 1.3) was obtained for the “Introduction to the Biotechnology Laboratory” and the highest mean score (M = 3.6) was obtained for the “Bioinformatics: Phylogenetic prediction” in the category of laboratory practices. Of the participants, 45% obtained four points for the category of evaluation. This is relatively lower when compared to the mean scores taken from the other categories (Figure 2
When the laboratory self-evaluation forms filled by the participants after the completion of each instructional task were examined, it was found that they had not encountered any difficulty during the implementation in general. The participants’ statements about the situations in which they were successful and they experienced problems are given below.
Some participants expressed the problems they experienced as they encountered some materials for the first time during the “Introduction to the Biotechnology Laboratory” task as follows: “I have seen some equipment for the first time. I have learned their names and understood their functions during the process (P8).”, “I didn’t know how to use some materials (e.g., micropipette) (P4).” They expressed their successes as follows; “In establishing the culture environment in medium and performing loading on the well during the electrophoresis (P5).”; “Inoculation the samples on the culture medium (P12)”.
Within the context of the “Genomic DNA isolation”, experienced problems in preparing the DNA isolation solution due to carelessness: “When I forgot the kiwi-detergent mixture on fire, some kind of decay occurred (P3).” The majority of the teachers stated that they were successful in DNA isolation. While they expressed the problems, they experienced during the “Polymerase chain reaction” as follows: “I was unfamiliar with some terms (P11).”; “It took longer due to a leaking problem in the microcentrifuge tube (P3).” They also mentioned their successes as follows: “I improved the use of micropipette. I performed the stages of the application (P17).”
In relation to the “Who is the guilty?”, they expressed their opinions as follows: “We accurately placed into small wells by using the micropipette (P4).”; “I did not encounter any problems during the experiences of the first day. I easily placed the isolated DNA into small wells by using the micropipette (P9).”; “We were successful in placing into electrophoresis tanks with the micropipette and in the hypothesis, we established (P12)”. They also made the following explanations regarding this task: “Through this activity, I learned that not only the DNAs of humans but also those of the other living creatures around should be examined while solving crimes (P13).”; “I learned the importance of using DNA fingerprint in judicial cases (P14).”
Within the context of the “Bioinformatics: Phylogenetic prediction”, the science teachers stated that they enjoyed the instructional tasks but they experienced some difficulties as the web sites used were in English: “I experienced problems while doing research in web sites prepared in a foreign language (P2).”; “I experienced some difficulties as I had never used these web sites before (P11).” They wrote the following expressions in the “what I have learned” section in the self-evaluation form: “We formed the genealogy of genetic diseases. We capitalized on the study field and database of bioinformatics (P7).”; “We prepared the gene maps of diseases by using the information provided in OMIM, NCBI web sites (P14)”; “We developed genealogies (P12).”
The laboratory experiences of the participants were evaluated by examining the worksheets according to the teaching approaches used in the instructional tasks. Accordingly, it was determined that the participants had the highest score (M = 3.5) for the category of “identifying variables” in the research-inquiry based instructional task (Introduction to Biotechnology Laboratory). In the project-based instructional task (Genomic DNA isolation), they obtained the highest score (M = 3.6) for the category of “activities/creating a generic framework on experiment”. In the problem- based instructional tasks (Polymerase Chain Reaction) found that participants were sufficient all category and they obtained the highest score (M = 3.6) for the category “experimental process”. In the argumentation instructional task (Who is the guilty?) they obtained the highest score (M = 3.5) for the category “supporting and corrupting evidence” in process of to test claim. Finally, in the interdisciplinary-web-based instructional task (Bioinformatics: Phylogenetic prediction), it was found that participants obtained the highest score for categories “problem/ explanation” (M = 3.9) and “biology and computer science” (M = 3.9).
The mean scores taken by the participants from the instructional tasks were examined and they were given in ascending order as follows: 2.8 (partially adequate), 3.2 (adequate), 3.4 (adequate), 3.3 (adequate), 3.7 (adequate), indicating that during the training the science teachers were adequate in general in terms of their laboratory experiences and technical skills and the scores tended to increase towards to the final instructional task. Thus, Hypothesis 2 was also supported.
The aim of the current study was to enhance the knowledge and laboratory skills of science teachers regarding biotechnology, through the use of laboratory instructional tasks developed on the basis of innovative teaching approaches (research-inquiry, problem solving, project, argumentation and web-based interdisciplinary learning approaches). In this context, the effect of the laboratory tasks developed on the basis of the innovative teaching approaches on science teachers’ biotechnology knowledge, awareness and laboratory experiences was investigated.
When the findings were examined, it was observed that the participants defined biotechnology as “technology, bioengineering applications and creating new products”. As the applications of biotechnology, they seem to be aware of the “agricultural, medical, industrial, and forensic applications of biotechnology and classic biotechnology”. Similarly, Acarlı [55
] found that while pre-service biology teachers describe the concept of biotechnology, they emphasized the themes of “technology, techniques, innovation, development and treatment” and that in relation to the applications of biotechnology, they are aware of the applications of biotechnology in the fields of agriculture, medicine and industry such as genetically modified organisms (GMO), treatment of diseases, making cheese and yoghurt etc. According to the Biotechnology Awareness Questionnaire, the participants have a moderate amount awareness of biotechnology before the implementation of the instructional tasks. This leads to the creation of an expectation that the participant science teachers should have information about biotechnological processes and applications. However, the findings of the Biotechnology Evaluation Questions show that the participants have low knowledge of basic biotechnological processes and applications. Their poor knowledge of biotechnology results in their having misconceptions about methods and techniques used in biotechnology (DNA isolation, PCR, gel electrophoresis and bioinformatics). Some participants described biotechnology as “Pharmacology and biochemistry (P2)”
and DNA isolation as “DNA fragmentation (P11)”
and the stages of DNA isolation as “Prophase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase (P16)”
is an example of misconceptions.. Similarly, Öztürk-Akar [56
] conducted on university students, it was reported that they have a certain view of the application fields of biotechnology but inadequate knowledge about them. Jiménez-Salas et al. [57
], found that elementary school teachers’ (n
= 362) who participated in the study, had low levels of knowledge about general biotechnology issues (GMO, cloning, etc.). They stated that this may be due to inadequate education, lack of interest or lack of continuing education for teachers working in state institutions. Similarly, Yılmaz and Öğretmen [16
], reported that the pre-service biology teachers have low levels of knowledge about gene technologies, which may be because they have not taken enough courses about gene technologies.
An increase was observed in the participants’ biotechnology knowledge and awareness after the completion of the in-service training course titled Biotechnology Education Practices in the current study (Table 5
and Table 6
). In a similar manner, Çimen [20
] reported an increase in biotechnology knowledge of teachers in different branches (science, classroom and biology teachers) after they had participated in laboratory experiments conducted about the subjects of biotechnology.
In the current study, it was determined that teaching of biotechnology subjects through innovative teaching approaches also enhanced laboratory experiences and technical skills as well as knowledge and awareness of the participants. Quantitative and qualitative data obtained from the questionnaire, evaluation questions and worksheets support each other. When the worksheets were examined, the participants were successful at the advanced level in eliciting their prior knowledge in the readiness category, detecting the problem and constructing the research design with problem-oriented variables (Figure 2
). Yet, the quality and clearness of their explanations are weak. Even though 47% of the participants were able to carry out the experimental operations related to the design of the research in the category of laboratory practices in cooperation with their peers, they experienced some difficulties in the laboratory techniques section. This is reflected in the laboratory self-evaluation form with the following statements: “I have seen some equipment for the first time. I have learned their names and understood their functions during the practices (P8)”
; “As I had not much encountered the names of the laboratory materials before, it was difficult to learn them (P13)
.” Similarly, Lounsbury [58
] reported that during DNA isolation and PCR experiments, it was observed that students and teachers experienced difficulties in the quick use of equipment and in the preparation of the necessary solutions.
The success of teachers in laboratory practices depends on their laboratory technical knowledge and skills to a great extent. On the basis of the participants’ statements, it can be argued that they lack knowledge and practice. Of the participants, 45% were able to effectively interpret the result they obtained in the evaluation section. Similar results have been obtained in the studies related to the applied teaching of biotechnology subjects in the literature. It was stated that the discovery-based laboratory course using the DNA analysis methods and recombinant DNA cloning techniques enabled the students to gain detailed information about the laboratory techniques used [59
]. Studies on the use of DNA technologies (PCR, electrophoresis, etc.) covering biotechnology topics have been reported to improve technical skills as well as knowledge of the subject [60
]. Yisau, et al. [61
], reported that the combination of theoretical courses with applied laboratory sessions significantly increased the knowledge and skills of participants in molecular biology in a five-day intensive molecular biology training workshop.
Present study also indicated that innovative teaching approaches (research-inquiry, problem solving, project, argumentation and web-based interdisciplinary learning approaches) were found to have positive effects on the participants’ laboratory experiences (Table 7
). With the task “Introduction to biotechnology laboratory” designed based on research-inquiry, the participants have reached a sufficient level of skills such as creating hypotheses, identifying variables, conducting experiments, editing data and interpreting results. It has been reported that activities designed with a similar teaching approach increased the students’ conceptual knowledge [62
], and improved their skills of questioning, problem solving, and making conclusions [63
]. It was observed that the science teachers’ technical knowledge of DNA isolation and awareness of the use of this technique in biotechnology improved as a result of their constructing mini projects related real life problems with their group members within the context of the “Genomic DNA Isolation”. It has been shown that project-based activities, including real-life biotechnology practices, increase the perceptions of biotechnology and positively contribute to the skills of developing and implementing an action plan according to the needs of a community [64
]. With the “Polymerase Chain Reaction” task, the participants developed solutions to a problem situation and implemented these solutions. Similarly, Casla and Zubiaga [65
] reported that the problem-based activity designed on the topic of paternity testing, an application of biotechnology, strengthened teaching by using both individual and group work and combining in-class activities with out-of-class activities. Tatner and Tierney [29
] reported that problem-based laboratory activities related to biotechnology issues developed problem solving and laboratory technical skills. The use of the argumentation approach in the “Who is the guilty?” task enabled the participants to learn about the functioning of this process in real life. They have learned to interpret the data they obtained by using forensic biotechnology techniques in the process of testing their claims. Similarly, university students involved in forensic medicine-based laboratory applications built on forensic biotechnology applications have learned to interpret the possible evidence through the data they have obtained [66
]. With the web-based “Bioinformatics: Phylogenetic Prediction” task, the teachers have raised their biotechnology awareness and learned how to interpret biological data by using computer science. Langheinrich and Bogner [67
] reported that computer-supported gene technology module increased the students’ conceptual understanding of the structure of DNA. It has been reported that the web-based bioinformatics module not only provides bioinformatics information, but also develops specific knowledge (informatics, biological sequence analysis, and structural bioinformatics) and skills [68
]. In this study, virtual laboratory (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and web-based teaching (Bioinformatics: Phylogenetic Prediction) were used in biotechnology teaching within the scope of innovative teaching approaches. It has been found useful with regard to meaningful learning of subjects and concepts to use interactive environments in situations including such abstract concepts and requiring expensive tools. Similarly, Bowling, Zimmer ve Pyatt [31
] reported that interactive laboratory activity on next-generation sequencing technologies helped students understand the molecular biology behind these technologies.