Special Issue "Biology Education"

A special issue of Education Sciences (ISSN 2227-7102).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2018).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Ute Harms
Website
Guest Editor
IPN - Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, Olshausenstrasse 62, D-24118 Kiel, Germany
Interests: teaching and learning "evolution" and “energy"; Climate Literacy; biology teachers’ professional competence; public understanding of science; enrichment
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The life sciences are one of the most rapidly-growing fields among all scientific domains, and they are the reference discipline for biology education. Hence, the potential contents for biology education are accelerating. On the other hand, the introduction of competency-oriented teaching and learning in many countries in the science subjects stresses a range of skills and abilities that biology education nowadays should focus going far beyond knowledge acquisition. The aim of this Special Issue is to give an overview on the different branches of research that relate to these two fundamental trends relevant for biology education. In this regard the issue will be structured in four thematic sections: (1) studies addressing questions on teaching and learning biological core ideas respectively fundamental concepts of biology (e.g., natural selection, systems, structure and function); (2) studies addressing questions on teaching and learning biological practices (e.g., developing and using models, engaging in argument from evidence); (3) studies addressing biology related Social Scientific Issues relevant for biology education; and (4) biology teacher education. Although the issue’s focus is empirical studies manuscripts on theoretical considerations about biology education are welcomed. The editor is contacting established scholars for contribution; however, others are invited to submit independently. Please send a structured abstract (cf., https://www.mdpi.com/journal/education/instructions) to the editor Ute Harms ([email protected]) or the Editorial Office ([email protected]).

Prof. Dr. Ute Harms
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • biological concepts and core ideas
  • biological practices
  • biology related social scientific issues
  • biology teacher education

Published Papers (20 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
The Impact of Innovative Teaching Approaches on Biotechnology Knowledge and Laboratory Experiences of Science Teachers
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(4), 213; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8040213 - 06 Dec 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
The current study presents an evaluation of the laboratory instructional tasks prepared based on innovative teaching approaches (research-inquiry, problem solving, project, argumentation and web-based interdisciplinary learning approaches) designed to enhance science teachers’ biotechnology knowledge, awareness and laboratory experiences. The laboratory instructional tasks developed [...] Read more.
The current study presents an evaluation of the laboratory instructional tasks prepared based on innovative teaching approaches (research-inquiry, problem solving, project, argumentation and web-based interdisciplinary learning approaches) designed to enhance science teachers’ biotechnology knowledge, awareness and laboratory experiences. The laboratory instructional tasks developed by the researchers aim to improve the laboratory experiences, as well as support the teaching of biotechnology through innovative teaching approaches. For this purpose, in-service training course titled Biotechnology Education Practices was conducted with the voluntary participation of science teachers (n = 17). The current study employed the embedded design. The quantitative part of the embedded design is designed as the single group pretest-posttest model and the qualitative part of it is designed as the case study. The data of the current study were collected through the Biotechnology Awareness Questionnaire, Biotechnology Evaluation Questions, The Laboratory Self-Evaluation form and worksheets. The results obtained from the analyses revealed that the instructional tasks conducted within the context of the Biotechnology Education Practices resulted in significant effects on the science teachers’ biotechnology knowledge and awareness and that the innovative teaching approaches were effective in developing the science teachers’ laboratory experiences. It would be useful to use laboratory instructional tasks enriched with innovative teaching approaches in teaching biotechnology subjects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Systematizing Professional Knowledge of Medical Doctors and Teachers: Development of an Interdisciplinary Framework in the Context of Diagnostic Competences
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(4), 207; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8040207 - 28 Nov 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Professional knowledge is highlighted as an important prerequisite of both medical doctors and teachers. Based on recent conceptions of professional knowledge in these fields, knowledge can be differentiated within several aspects. However, these knowledge aspects are currently conceptualized differently across different domains and [...] Read more.
Professional knowledge is highlighted as an important prerequisite of both medical doctors and teachers. Based on recent conceptions of professional knowledge in these fields, knowledge can be differentiated within several aspects. However, these knowledge aspects are currently conceptualized differently across different domains and projects. Thus, this paper describes recent frameworks for professional knowledge in medical and educational sciences, which are then integrated into an interdisciplinary two-dimensional model of professional knowledge that can help to align terminology in both domains and compare research results. The models’ two dimensions differentiate between cognitive types of knowledge and content-related knowledge facets and introduces a terminology for all emerging knowledge aspects. The models’ applicability for medical and educational sciences is demonstrated in the context of diagnosis by describing prototypical diagnostic settings for medical doctors as well as for teachers, which illustrate how the framework can be applied and operationalized in these areas. Subsequently, the role of the different knowledge aspects for acting and the possibility of transfer between different content areas are discussed. In conclusion, a possible extension of the model along a “third dimension” that focuses on the effects of growing expertise on professional knowledge over time is proposed and issues for further research are outlined. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
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Open AccessArticle
How to Measure Procedural Knowledge for Solving Biodiversity and Climate Change Challenges
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(4), 190; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8040190 - 30 Oct 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
To cope with biodiversity and climate change challenges, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) needs to emphasize knowledge that considers multiple perspectives. Optimizing teacher education requires knowledge about the prerequisites of student teachers. The latter includes content knowledge with respect to Sustainable Development (SD). [...] Read more.
To cope with biodiversity and climate change challenges, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) needs to emphasize knowledge that considers multiple perspectives. Optimizing teacher education requires knowledge about the prerequisites of student teachers. The latter includes content knowledge with respect to Sustainable Development (SD). Apart from situational and conceptual knowledge, procedural knowledge (containing solution strategies) is of special interest, but it is much more difficult to measure. Thus, this study aims at developing a refined procedure to measure SD-relevant procedural knowledge and to define a measure for such knowledge, including a suitable benchmark for its evaluation. As SD-relevant knowledge, the SD challenges biodiversity loss and climate change were focused on. For operationalizing these challenges, the highly relevant contexts insects and pollination and peatland use were chosen. For both SD challenges and contexts, potential solution strategies were identified by a literature review. A procedure was then tested to measure procedural knowledge. The procedure includes a two-round expert survey (Delphi approach) with an in-between think-aloud study with student teachers. The described innovative procedure resulted in a measure (18 items) to assess procedural knowledge of student teachers via effectiveness estimations of provided solution strategies. This measure contains procedural knowledge items that are related to prior presented scenarios regarding the two contexts and a benchmark to evaluate these items. The benchmark derives from the second round of the Delphi study. The procedure and the developed final instrument include expertise from multiple disciplines such as ESD, SD, biodiversity, insect and pollination, climate change and peatland use. The sophisticated procedure can be transferred to challenging measurement developments. Furthermore, the measure provided for SD-relevant knowledge can be applied to other target groups in upper secondary and in higher education within ESD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Assessment of Competencies in Scientific Inquiry Through the Application of Rasch Measurement Techniques
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(4), 184; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8040184 - 24 Oct 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Achieving competence in scientific inquiry or mastering scientific practices is an essential element of scientific literacy. Clearly, if students’ Scientific Inquiry Competence (SIC) is to be improved, a critical step is to reliably measure it and provide from this measurement feedback for teaching. [...] Read more.
Achieving competence in scientific inquiry or mastering scientific practices is an essential element of scientific literacy. Clearly, if students’ Scientific Inquiry Competence (SIC) is to be improved, a critical step is to reliably measure it and provide from this measurement feedback for teaching. Although numerous instruments were presented in literature to assess SIC, the specific potential of Rasch measurement for the integration of research assessment and individual feedback onto SIC is so far underestimated. This article presents details regarding the design and evaluation of a test instrument using an open-response format to measure students’ SIC in content-rich biology contexts at the upper secondary level. First, a set of three sub-competences (“generating hypotheses”, “designing experiments” and “analyzing data”) each composed of five competence aspects is introduced from literature to define the SIC construct. The SIC instrument was then operationalized using six open-ended partial-credit items. After pilot testing, the instrument was administered to N = 220 students (ages 15–19) before and after an inquiry-based unit on enzymes. Instrument functioning was evaluated using the Rasch Partial-Credit Model and first results towards satisfactory instrument functioning (e.g., validity and reliability) are presented. Particularly noteworthy is that the observed pattern in competence difficulty matched the pattern predicted from theoretical considerations. We demonstrate how the SIC instrument can be used for competence assessment and the evaluation of the effectiveness of learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
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Open AccessArticle
What Biological Visualizations Do Science Center Visitors Prefer in an Interactive Touch Table?
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(4), 166; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8040166 - 06 Oct 2018
Abstract
Hands-on digital interactivity in science centers provides new communicative opportunities. The Microcosmos multi-touch table allows visitors to interact with 64 image “cards” of (sub)microscopic biological structures and processes embedded across seven theme categories. This study presents the integration of biological content, interactive features [...] Read more.
Hands-on digital interactivity in science centers provides new communicative opportunities. The Microcosmos multi-touch table allows visitors to interact with 64 image “cards” of (sub)microscopic biological structures and processes embedded across seven theme categories. This study presents the integration of biological content, interactive features and logging capabilities into the table, and analyses visitors’ usage and preferences. Data logging recorded 2,070,350 events including activated category, selected card, and various finger-based gestures. Visitors interacted with all cards during 858 sessions (96 s on average). Finger movements covered an average accumulated distance of 4.6 m per session, and about 56% of card interactions involved two fingers. Visitors made 5.53 category switches per session on average, and the virus category was most activated (average 0.96 per session). An overall ranking score related to card attractive power and holding power revealed that six of the most highly used cards depicted viruses and four were colourful instrument output images. The large finger traversal distance and proportion of two-finger card interaction may indicate the intuitiveness of the gestures. Observed trends in visitor engagement with the biological visualizations are considered in terms of construal level theory. Future work will examine how interactions are related to potential learning of biological content. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Are We Aware of What Is Going on in a Student’s Mind? Understanding Wrong Answers about Plant Tropisms and Connection between Student’s Conceptions and Metacognition in Teacher and Learner Minds
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(4), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8040164 - 02 Oct 2018
Abstract
Problems with understanding concepts and mechanisms connected to plant movements have been diagnosed among biology students. Alternative conceptions in understanding these phenomena are marginally studied. The diagnosis was based on a sample survey of university students and their lecturers, which was quantitatively and [...] Read more.
Problems with understanding concepts and mechanisms connected to plant movements have been diagnosed among biology students. Alternative conceptions in understanding these phenomena are marginally studied. The diagnosis was based on a sample survey of university students and their lecturers, which was quantitatively and qualitatively exploratory in nature (via a questionnaire). The research was performed in two stages, before and after the lectures and laboratory on plant movements. We diagnosed eight alternative conceptions before the academic training started. After the classes, most were not been verified, and in addition, 12 new conceptions were diagnosed. Additionally, we report that teachers are not aware of students’ possible misunderstandings. They do not perceive students’ troubles with switching between levels of representations, nor their alternative conceptions. A case of “curse of knowledge” was observed and academic teacher training is recommended. Additionally, the need for metacognition as a crucial element in laboratory activities seems supported by our presented results. Such metacognition refers to students as well as teachers, which leads to the conclusion that teachers should be aware of students’ way of thinking and the development of knowledge in one’s own mind. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
Open AccessArticle
Supporting Students in Building and Using Models: Development on the Quality and Complexity Dimensions
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 149; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8030149 - 17 Sep 2018
Abstract
Past research has identified elements underlying modeling as a core science and engineering practice, as well as dimensions along which students’ learn how to use models and how they perceive the nature of modeling. To extend these findings by a perspective on how [...] Read more.
Past research has identified elements underlying modeling as a core science and engineering practice, as well as dimensions along which students’ learn how to use models and how they perceive the nature of modeling. To extend these findings by a perspective on how modeling practice can be used in classrooms, we used design-based research to investigate how the modeling practice elements, i.e., construct, use, evaluate, and revise, were integrated in a middle school unit about water quality that included using an online modeling tool. We focus on N = 3 groups as cases to track and analyze 7th grade students’ modeling practice and metamodeling knowledge across the unit. Students constructed, used, evaluated, and revised their models based on data they collected and concepts they learned. Results indicate most students succeeded in constructing complex models using the modeling tool by consecutively adding and specifying variables and relationships. This is a positive finding compared to prior research on students’ metamodeling knowledge. Similar to these studies, we observed several basic metamodeling conceptions and generally less progress in this field than in students’ models. We discuss implications for applying modeling practice in classrooms and explain how students make use of the different modeling practice elements by developing their models in the complexity and quality dimensions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Construction and Evaluation of an Instrument to Measure Content Knowledge in Biology: The CK-IBI
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8030145 - 11 Sep 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
The teaching process is well described as an interaction between teacher, student, and content. Thus, it seems obvious that teachers must know the content to help students to learn it. Instruments have been developed to measure teachers’ content knowledge (CK) in biology, but [...] Read more.
The teaching process is well described as an interaction between teacher, student, and content. Thus, it seems obvious that teachers must know the content to help students to learn it. Instruments have been developed to measure teachers’ content knowledge (CK) in biology, but few of them have been provided to the scientific community. Furthermore, most of them have a topic-specific approach, so there is a need for a more comprehensive measure. In efforts to meet this need we have developed an instrument called the CK in biology inventory (CK-IBI), which has a broader scope than previously published instruments and covers knowledge of five biological disciplines (i.e., ecology, evolution, genetics and microbiology, morphology, and physiology). More than 700 pre-service biology teachers were enrolled to participate in tests to assess the instrument’s objectivity, reliability, and validity in two cross-sectional evaluations. Item and scale analyses as well as validity checks indicate that the final version of the CK-IBI (37 items; Cronbach’s α = 0.83) can be scored objectively, is unidimensional, reliable, and validly measures pre-service biology teachers’ CK. As the instrument was used in a German context, it has been translated into English to enable its scrutiny and use by international communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Undergraduate Biology Students’ Teleological and Essentialist Misconceptions
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 135; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8030135 - 31 Aug 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Understanding Plant Nutrition—The Genesis of Students’ Conceptions and the Implications for Teaching Photosynthesis
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 132; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8030132 - 30 Aug 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Plant nutrition and photosynthesis is one of the most difficult issues teachers are confronted with in science classes. This can be due to alternative conceptions students’ hold, which are often profoundly contrary to their scientific counterparts. Consequently, fruitful learning environments should build on [...] Read more.
Plant nutrition and photosynthesis is one of the most difficult issues teachers are confronted with in science classes. This can be due to alternative conceptions students’ hold, which are often profoundly contrary to their scientific counterparts. Consequently, fruitful learning environments should build on learners’ alternative conceptions to initiate conceptual change towards a more scientific understanding. In this qualitative case study, high-school students’ pre-instructional conceptions about plant nutrition were identified empirically. Afterwards these students were exposed to the van-Helmont experiment in order to create a cognitive conflict. The learning processes and signs of conceptual change were identified using Qualitative Content Analysis. The results show that the van-Helmont experiment does not trigger conceptual change but reinforces students’ pre-instructional conceptions. Ultimately, a cognitive-linguistic analysis using Conceptual Metaphor Theory was conducted. Interestingly, underlying embodied conceptions and image schemas about human nutrition became evident. These thinking patterns were used metaphorically and, therefore, can be seen as the basis to understand plant nutrition. As a result, we propose a reverse approach of teaching photosynthesis and nutrition. Our Dissimilation-Before-Assimilation approach takes learners’ alternative conceptions and underlying image schemas into account in order to promote a fruitful learning of the concepts of plant nutrition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Biology Education: The Value of Taking Student Concerns Seriously
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 130; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8030130 - 29 Aug 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
This article examines the question of how biology courses can take student concerns more seriously than they often do. The focus is on school biology although the arguments apply to other biology courses too. The article begins by examining Michael Young’s argument that [...] Read more.
This article examines the question of how biology courses can take student concerns more seriously than they often do. The focus is on school biology although the arguments apply to other biology courses too. The article begins by examining Michael Young’s argument that schools should provide students with access to powerful knowledge—the sort of knowledge that they are unlikely to obtain from elsewhere—and compares this with John White’s argument that the curriculum should enable student flourishing, and that as part of this, there should be more student choice about what they study. It then discusses recent work on the benefits of independent research projects, in which students undertake authentic investigative work where they have considerable control over the work, and concludes that these generally motivate students and are a good source of learning for them. It goes on to examine what lessons might be learnt for school biology from the informal learning sector, such as Natural History Museums, where visitors have great autonomy with regard to what they study. Finally, it looks at the concept of ‘worldviews’ and argues that this provides another argument for taking student concerns seriously. The article concludes that taking student concerns seriously in school biology would facilitate human development, in particular, development towards greater student autonomy, and that this can be done in ways that have been tried and allow for high quality biology teaching and learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
Open AccessArticle
Development, Uptake, and Wider Applicability of the Yo-yo Strategy in Biology Education Research: A Reappraisal
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8030129 - 24 Aug 2018
Cited by 6
Abstract
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. [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Professionalizing Pre-Service Biology Teachers’ Misconceptions about Learning and the Brain through Conceptual Change
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8030120 - 10 Aug 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Scientific concepts of learning and the brain are relevant for biology teachers in two ways: Firstly, the topic is an object of instruction (e.g., long-term potentiation). Secondly, biology teachers must guide their students towards sustainable learning. Consequently, their own understanding of learning and [...] Read more.
Scientific concepts of learning and the brain are relevant for biology teachers in two ways: Firstly, the topic is an object of instruction (e.g., long-term potentiation). Secondly, biology teachers must guide their students towards sustainable learning. Consequently, their own understanding of learning and the brain has an especially far-reaching influence on students. Pre-service biology teachers endorse so-called “neuromyths,” misconceptions on the subject of learning and the brain (e.g., the existence of learning styles) even though they cover neuroscientific content during their studies. These misconceptions remain relatively stable throughout university education and practical training. In this paper, we transfer the teaching and learning model of conceptual change to the university context. We investigate whether and to what extent a university course developed in accordance with a professional conceptual change model can reduce pre-service biology teachers’ endorsement of neuromyths. In a pre-post-design, 57 university students were asked about their professional knowledge, beliefs, neuromyths, and perception and utilization of the university course. We found a positive effect of the intervention on all three elements of students’ conceptual understanding. The results show that explicitly refuting misconceptions about learning and the brain (e.g., via conceptual change texts) helps to professionalize neuromyths. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Modeling Instruction Professional Development on Biology Teachers’ Scientific Reasoning Skills
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8030119 - 08 Aug 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
International assessments have revealed that students in numerous nations lack scientific reasoning skills. Science teachers who support students’ scientific skill development through the use of authentic practices provide students with tools needed for success in future science courses. Teachers training focused on pedagogy [...] Read more.
International assessments have revealed that students in numerous nations lack scientific reasoning skills. Science teachers who support students’ scientific skill development through the use of authentic practices provide students with tools needed for success in future science courses. Teachers training focused on pedagogy that supports student scientific reasoning development is particularly important as some studies have also suggested that pre-service teachers have a tendency to display a lack of scientific reasoning skills. Additionally, few studies exist that assess teachers’ scientific reasoning skills, including the effectiveness of professional development to strengthen teacher scientific reasoning abilities over time. To help fill this gap, this study examines the effects of a Modeling Instruction in a biology workshop on teachers’ scientific reasoning skills. In addition to teacher interviews, focus groups, and writing samples, data from Lawson’s Classroom Test of Scientific Reasoning (LCTSR) were collected from teachers before and after the workshop. The results suggest that the three-week Modeling Instruction in the biology workshop contributed to gains in in-service teachers’ scientific reasoning, and thus provides evidence that the teachers in this study are more prepared to help develop similar skills with their own students as they engage in the Modeling Instruction curriculum. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Teachers’ Professional Knowledge and Their Use of Three-Dimensional Physical Models in Biology Lessons on Students’ Achievement
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8030118 - 07 Aug 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Using three-dimensional physical models elaborately in their learning, students can develop high-level understanding of models and modeling in science, thereby attaining higher achievement. However, there are in the literature few indications of how teachers should use three-dimensional physical models in instruction and whether [...] Read more.
Using three-dimensional physical models elaborately in their learning, students can develop high-level understanding of models and modeling in science, thereby attaining higher achievement. However, there are in the literature few indications of how teachers should use three-dimensional physical models in instruction and whether teachers’ professional knowledge is a prerequisite for teaching with elaborate use of models. Therefore, our study used a mixed-methods approach to analyze the effects of biology teachers’ domain-specific pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) and content knowledge (CK) on students’ achievement mediated by elaborate model use (ELMO). Our quantitative sample comprised 36 German secondary school teachers whose lessons on the topic of neurobiology were videotaped twice (N = 72 lessons). Teachers completed professional knowledge tests on their PCK and CK. Students’ achievement was measured using pre- and post-knowledge tests. Our qualitative analysis involved five selected teachers according to aspects of ELMO. The results of our study indicated that teachers’ PCK and CK had no direct effect on students’ achievement. However, teachers’ PCK had a significant indirect and positive effect on students’ achievement mediated by ELMO. The findings of our study can provide teachers and researchers examples of how to implement biology instruction with elaborate use of three-dimensional physical models. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Gender Construction in Experiment-Based Biology Lessons
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 115; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8030115 - 07 Aug 2018
Abstract
Experimental investigations are an integral part of biology education because they demonstrate essential methods of obtaining knowledge in the natural sciences and generate high levels of learning activity. However, gender differences can arise during experimentation just as in other teaching situations. This article [...] Read more.
Experimental investigations are an integral part of biology education because they demonstrate essential methods of obtaining knowledge in the natural sciences and generate high levels of learning activity. However, gender differences can arise during experimentation just as in other teaching situations. This article shows examples of social gender construction that may occur in experimental work. To this end, experimental group work was recorded on video and was assessed by the method of film image sequence analysis. The video segments revealed clearly distinguishable behavioral patterns used by the students to establish an identification as a girl or boy. For example, gender-related differences referred to preferring household appliances (girls) or technical instruments (boys) when experimenting, and acting in an attentive (girls) or attention seeking way (boys) during group work. The disadvantage of these patterns is that they may restrict the unfettered development of the personality and, among other things, make it difficult for girls to feel competitive in experimental sciences. In order to balance the situation, teachers must be able to notice these patterns and must know about strategies to broaden students’ behavioral range. Concrete proposals for such strategies being applicable in biology lessons but also in other subjects are given in the discussion of this article. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
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Open AccessArticle
As Symbol as That: Inconsistencies in Symbol Systems of Alleles in Textbooks, and Students’ Justifications for Them
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8030110 - 02 Aug 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
In genetics education, symbols are used for alleles to visualize them and to explain probabilities of progeny and inheritance paradigms. In this study, we identified symbol systems used in genetics textbooks and the justifications provided for changes in the symbol systems. Moreover, we [...] Read more.
In genetics education, symbols are used for alleles to visualize them and to explain probabilities of progeny and inheritance paradigms. In this study, we identified symbol systems used in genetics textbooks and the justifications provided for changes in the symbol systems. Moreover, we wanted to understand how students justify the use of different symbol systems when solving genetics problems. We analyzed eight textbooks from three different countries worldwide. We then presented a genetics problem to eight 9th-grade students and probed their justifications for the use of different symbol systems. Our findings showed that there is no one conventional symbol system in textbooks; instead, symbol systems are altered along and within textbooks according to the genetic context. More importantly, this alteration is not accompanied by any explicit explanation for the alteration. Student interviews revealed that some students were able to identify the genetic context of each symbol system, whereas others, who were unable to do so, provided justifications based on different non-genetics-related reasons. We discuss the implications of our analysis for how multiple symbol systems should be presented in textbooks, and how they should be introduced in the classroom. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
Open AccessArticle
Learning Opportunities in Biology Teacher Education Contribute to Understanding of Nature of Science
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8030103 - 20 Jul 2018
Abstract
In order to educate scientifically literate children, teachers are required to include nature of science (NOS) in their classroom practice. However, as biology teachers’ own understanding of NOS is limited, promoting an initial understanding of NOS in teacher education is crucial. The aim [...] Read more.
In order to educate scientifically literate children, teachers are required to include nature of science (NOS) in their classroom practice. However, as biology teachers’ own understanding of NOS is limited, promoting an initial understanding of NOS in teacher education is crucial. The aim of this study is to elucidate the importance of the first phase of teacher education for biology teachers’ understanding of NOS. More precisely, the study aims to examine the relationship between institutional determinants (e.g., the type of teacher education programme) and learning opportunities for pre-service biology teachers’ understanding of NOS. Pre-service biology teachers (N = 232) participated in a cross-sectional testing. The corresponding descriptions of N = 649 modules of biology teacher education from 20 German universities were analysed. Qualitative and quantitative methods were applied to relate the institutional determinants and the individual amount of learning opportunities to pre-service biology teachers’ understanding of NOS. Results reveal that both institutional determinants as well as the amount of learning opportunities are related to pre-service biology teachers’ understanding of NOS. This indicates that teacher education at university represents an important phase for biology teachers’ understanding of NOS. The results are discussed in terms of consequences for further research and teacher education. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
Open AccessArticle
Instructional Support for Intuitive Knowledge Acquisition When Learning with an Ecological Computer Simulation
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8030094 - 27 Jun 2018
Abstract
Intuitive knowledge seems to influence human decision-making outside of consciousness and differs from deliberate cognitive and metacognitive processes. Intuitive knowledge can play an essential role in problem solving and may offer the initiation of subsequent learning processes. Scientific discovery learning with computer simulations [...] Read more.
Intuitive knowledge seems to influence human decision-making outside of consciousness and differs from deliberate cognitive and metacognitive processes. Intuitive knowledge can play an essential role in problem solving and may offer the initiation of subsequent learning processes. Scientific discovery learning with computer simulations leads to the acquisition of intuitive knowledge. To improve knowledge acquisition, particular instructional support is needed as pure discovery learning often does not lead to successful learning outcomes. Hence, the goal of this study was to determine whether two different instructional interventions for scientific discovery effectively produced intuitive knowledge acquisition when learning with computer simulations. Instructional interventions for learning with computer simulations on the topic ‘ecosystem water’ were developed and tested in the two well-known categories data interpretation and self-regulation using a sample of 117 eighth graders during science class. The results demonstrated the efficacy of these instructional interventions on learners’ intuitive knowledge acquisition. A predetermined combination of instructional support for data interpretation and for self-regulation proved to be successful for learners’ intuitive knowledge acquisition after a learning session involving the computer simulation. Furthermore, the instructional intervention describing and interpreting own simulation outcomes for data interpretation seems to be an effective method for acquiring intuitive knowledge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
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Open AccessArticle
A Trial and Perceptions Assessment of APP-Based Flipped Classroom Teaching Model for Medical Students in Learning Immunology in China
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(2), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8020045 - 02 Apr 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
The application-based flipped classroom (APP-FC) is an innovative teaching-learning model that has not been applied and assessed in basic medical curricula teaching in China. The aim of this investigation is to assess students’ perceptions to the APP-based flipped classroom (APP-FC) teaching model in [...] Read more.
The application-based flipped classroom (APP-FC) is an innovative teaching-learning model that has not been applied and assessed in basic medical curricula teaching in China. The aim of this investigation is to assess students’ perceptions to the APP-based flipped classroom (APP-FC) teaching model in an immunology course. The data of this study were collected from second-year medical students (n = 92) at Lanzhou University. One class (n = 50), as a control group, was offered lecture-based learning (LBL), while the other class (n = 42), as the APP-FC group, was given lecture-based instruction and the APP-FC teaching model during September–November 2017. Afterward, the perceptions of students on APP-FC teaching model were evaluated using questionnaires. Students responded that APP-FC improves their motivation (83%) and interest in learning immunology (81%), as well as their self-directed learning skills (81%). Compared to the traditional lecture-based instruction, the APP-FC noticeably improved students’ motivation in learning (P = 0.011), self-directed learn skills (P = 0.001), memory abilities (P = 0.009), and problem-solving abilities (P = 0.010). Most medical students’ scores (60%) in the final examination were more than 80 points after implementing an APP-FC model as compared to the control group (40%). The majority of students (70%) preferred the APP-FC teaching approach over traditional lecture-based pedagogy. The implementation of the APP-FC teaching model could improve students’ learning motivation, self-directed learn skills, and problem-solving abilities, which is a preferable teaching model for medical immunology courses in China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology Education)
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