Life Science—Biology Concept and Skill Progressions

Download 1.18 Mb.
Size1.18 Mb.
1   ...   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13


(1) Geologic Processes. Understanding geologic processes is important for comprehending the time-scale involved in much of evolution/ecology and for developing hypotheses about the course of evolution/ecological relationships. Geologic processes are key to developing descriptions of past environments and for reconstructing the life history of the planet. (Catley et al, 2005)

(2) There are several domain general concepts students should understand. First, students should understand systems may change when components within the system change. Second, cycles remain the same unless the system in which it is a component changes. Third, cycles are systems themselves. Ecosystems rely on naturally evolved smaller-scale systems (e.g., the nitrification process in the aquaria) to achieve a function (e.g., in an aquaria, processing harmful substances from fish waste into less harmful substances), which promotes stability because the cycle repeats.

(3) High School students should be aware of the work that ecologists do: Ecologists use models to not just represent but also to conceptualize and test ideas; Ecologists make inferences based on large scales (across time and space); and ecologists work in a variety of experimental settings and use a variety of experimental techniques.

(4) Despite experiments in which students see germinating seeds and mature plants kept in the dark, this misconception seems to hold (Roth, Smith, & Anderson, 1983). Many students equate sunlight to substances like water or minerals. As a result, many students fail to recognize the essential role of sunlight in photosynthesis.

(5) In scientific usage, food refers only to those substances, such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, from which organisms derive the energy they need to grow and operate and the material of which they are made” (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1993). Food is defined as those substances that provide energy and/or building materials for organisms. (CPRE-PCK)

(6) According to Rowlands (2004), children at age 10 take a “mechanical” approach to understanding what happens to food after swallowing (p. 167). They see it as “being contained inside a sack or tube in the body” and then as a “process of separation of useful parts of the food from non-useful parts, with the former being retained and the latter got rid of as feces” Teixeira (2000) says that students at that same age understand the function of the organs and have a “biological basis” for understanding the digestive system (p. 519). However, in both cases, students show no sign of understanding these changes as chemical processes in which matter is transformed from one type of substance to another during digestion

(7) Photosynthesis is “so complex and completely different from the nutrition of animals” that we should not be surprised that these concepts should be confusing for students (Wandersee, 1985, p. 593). Students are influenced by many experiences that do not support the scientific viewpoint, such as watering plants and talking about fertilizer as “plant food.” Further, humans see themselves as the highest form of life on the planet, so remembering the importance of plants can be a challenge for students. Arnold and Simpson (1980) in Driver et. al.,(1994, pg. 30) point out that students need to understand that “an element, carbon (which is solid in pure form), is present in carbon dioxide (which is a colorless gas in the air) and that this gas is converted by a green plant into sugar (a solid, but in solution) when hydrogen (a gas) from water (a liquid) is added using light energy which is consequently converted to chemical energy.” Students think of photosynthesis as a type of respiration. The terms breathing and respiration were often used interchangeably, and oxygen is equated with air. They also believe that plants exchange gases primarily for the benefit of people. Students need to understand that oxygen is simply a waste product of the process (Driver et al., 1994).

(8) Whether learning about photosynthesis, respiration, or catabolism (e.g., the building of biological molecules within cells), matter and energy are conserved. Thus, during photosynthesis the carbon atoms in carbon dioxide are rearranged to produce sugar molecules, and during respiration the carbon atoms in sugars are rearranged to produce carbon dioxide. No carbon atoms appear or disappear from existence in these processes. Energy is also conserved. Energy can be passed from one organism to another in a food chain, through decay, or dissipate through heat, but it is never destroyed. (CPRE-PCK)

(9) Part of the problem may lay in the need for a more interconnected understanding of the topic of energy. Students encounter this topic in four biological contexts that are essential to understanding feeding relations: photosynthesis, respiration, nutrition, and the interdependency of organisms. However, this version of energy is very different from that studied in physics classes. Klein (1990) asserts that the subjects comprising ecology “cannot be contained within a single disciplinary framework” (Eilam, 2002, p. 646). Concepts in ecology interact with concepts in physics such as equilibrium. Additionally, students must have a firm grasp of chemistry to understand photosynthesis, though the concept generally is covered in biology. Just as plants, animals, humans, and even the sun interact with regard to nutrition, so too do the differing branches of scientific study when we cover this broad set of topics. (CPRE-PCK)

Authors and Reviewers

Dr. Rebecca Jordan, Rutgers University, New Jersey (contributor)

David Mellor, Rutgers University, New Jersey (contributor)

American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1993). Benchmarks for ScienceLiteracy. NY: Oxford University Press.

Anderson, C. W. (2008, March). Learning Progressions for Environmental Science Literacy: Overview of the Interactive Poster Symposium. Presented at NARST annual meeting.

Clement, J. (2000). Model based learning as a key research area for science education. International Journal of Science Education, 22, 1041-1053.

Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE), PCK TOOLS.

Covitt, B., & Gunkel, K. (2008). Students’ developing understanding of water in environmental systems. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Eliam, B. (2002). Strata of comprehending ecology: Looking through the prism of feeding relations. Science Education, 86, 645-671.

Eisen, Y., & Stavy, R. (1988). Students’ understanding of photosynthesis. The American Biology Teacher, 50(4), 208-212.

Ferrari, M., & Chi, M. T. H. (1998). The nature of naive explanations of natural selection. International Journal of Science Education, 20, 1231-1256.

Grotzer, T. A., & Bell-Basca, B. (2003). How does grasping the underlying causal structures of ecosystems impact students' understanding? Journal of Biological Education, 38, 16-28.

Hmelo, Silver, C. E. & Azevedo, R. (2006). Understanding complex systems: Some core challenges. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15, 53-61.

Hogan, K. (2000) Assessing students’ systems reasoning in ecology. Journal of Biological Education, 35, 22-28.

Hogan, K. & Fisherkeller, J. (1996) Representing students’ thinking about nutrient cycling in ecosystems: Bidemensional coding of a complex topic. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 33, 941-970.

Hogan, K., Nastasi, B. K., & Pressley, M. (1999). Discourse patterns and collaborative scientific reasoning in peer and teacher-guided discussions. Cognition and Instruction, 17, 379-432.

Hogan, K., & Weathers, K. C. (2003). Psychological and ecological perspectives on the development of systems thinking. In A. R. Berkowitz, C. H. Nilon & K. S. Hollweg (Eds.), Understanding urban ecosystems: A new frontier for science and education (pp. 233-260). New York: Springer.

Jordan R. & R. Duncan (2006) Characterizing pre-service teacher understanding of the nature of science: two perspectives from two domains. Ecological Society of America, Annual Meeting, Memphis TN.

Jordan, R, Singer, F., Vaughan, J., & Berkowitz A. (2008). What should every citizen know about ecology? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

Jordan, R., Gray, S., Demeter, M., Liu, L., & Hmelo-Silver, C. (2009) Promoting an Understanding of Ecological Concepts: A Review of Student Conflations of Ecological Systems and Cycles. Applied Environmental Education and Communication.

Leach, J., Driver, R., Scott, P. & Wood-Robinson, C. (1996). Children's ideas about ecology 2: ideas found in children aged 5-16 about the cycling of matter. International Journal of Science Education 18, 19-34.

Magtorn O. (2005). Student-teachers’ ability to read nature: reflections on their own learning in ecology. Int J Sci Ed 27: 1-25.

Mintzes, J. J., Trowbridge, J. E., Arnaudin, M. W., & Wandersee, J. H. (1991). Children's biology: Studies on conceptual development in the life sciences. In S. M. Glynn, R. H. Yeany & B. K. Britton (Eds.), The psychology of learning science (pp. 179-202). Hillsdale NJ: Erlbaum.

National Research Council. (1996). National Science Education Standards. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press.

Ozkan, O., Tekkaya, C., & Geban, O. (2004). Facilitating conceptual change in students’ understanding of ecological concepts. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 13, 95-105.

Perkins, D. N., & Grotzer, T. A. (2000). Models and moves: Focusing on dimensions of causal complexity to achieve deeper scientific understanding. Paper presented at the Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans LA.

Puk TG & Makin D. 2006. Ecological consciousness in Ontario elementary schools: the truant curriculum and the consequences. Appl Env Ed Com 5: 269-276.

Reiner, M. & Eliam, B. (2001). A systems view of learning. International Journal of Science Education, 23, 551-568.

Sabelli, N. (2006). Understanding complex systems strand: Complexity, technology, science, and education. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15, 5-9.

Schwarz, C. V. & White, B. Y. (2005). Metamodeling knowledge: Developing students’ understanding of scientific modeling. Cognition and Instruction, 23, 165-205.

Stavy, R., Eisen, Y., & Yaakobi, D. (1987). How students aged 13-15 understand photosynthesis. International Journal of Science Education, 9(1), 105-115.

Stone MK and Barlow Z (Eds) 2005. Ecological literacy: educating our children for a sustainable world. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books; Berkeley: Distributed by University of California Press.

Teixeira, F. M. (2000). What happens to the food we eat? Children’s conceptions of the structure and function of the digestive system. International Journal of Science Education, 22, 507-520.

Wandersee, J. H. (1985). Can the history of science help science educators anticipate student misconceptions? Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 23(7), 581-97.

Wilensky, U., & Resnick, M. (1999). Thinking in levels: A dynamic systems approach to making sense of the world. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 8, 3-19.

Download 1.18 Mb.

Share with your friends:
1   ...   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13

The database is protected by copyright © 2020
send message

    Main page