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Learning Theories

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Hart, C., Mulhall, P., Berry, A., Loughran, J., & Gunstone, R. (2000). What is the purpose of this experiment? Or can students learn something from doing experiments?. Journal of research in science teaching, 37(7), 655-675.

As a student, I often saw little connection between the labs we were doing and the material in lecture – labs followed an odd sequence that did not match lecture topics and little effort was made to make the objectives of a lab clear. This article addresses those problems and discusses the structure of labs that can result in real learning.



National Academy of Sciences (US). Working Group on Teaching Evolution. (1998). Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science. Joseph Henry Press.

Alles, D. L. (2001). Using evolution as the framework for teaching biology. The American Biology Teacher, 63(1), 20-23.

As Dobzhansky said, nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. The 1998 National Academy of Sciences report and the article from The American Biology Teacher both stress this. I make evolution the major unifying theme in my majors microbiology course.


Gooday, G., Lynch, J. M., Wilson, K. G., & Barsky, C. K. (2008). Does science education need the history of science?. Isis, 99(2), 322-330.

In recent years, I have developed a real interest in the history of science and think that it provides an interesting and useful framework for teaching science. And I don’t mean history in the way I was taught it – dates of discoveries and the names of the lone individual responsible for that discovery, reducing scientists like Koch and Pasteur and Virchow to a single sentence in a text. It is far better to take a long look at the way scientists in the past came to their conclusions, thus modeling good scientific thinking for our students.


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