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Annotated Bibliography

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Concept based teaching and learning in a large undergraduate genetics course 

 

1.     Rationale or motivation 

 

Garvin-Doxas, K., Klymkowsky, M., & Elrod, S. (2007). Building, using, and maximizing the impact of concept inventories in the biological sciences: report on a National Science Foundation sponsored conference on the construction of concept inventories in the biological sciences. CBE Life Sci. Educ., 6, 277–282. 

This paper introduced two important standards from NSF report on the impact of concept inventories in the biological sciences. First, students should be required to learn material at conceptual levels, not just remember to list, label, and define facts. Second, students learning outcomes and course evaluation should be an integral part of the course-structure. It highlighted a problem that a new concept can be only taught when the students are confronted with inconsistencies, misconceptions, and limitations of their mental processes that currently structured in their mental set up. Also, there must be distinct ways for assessing students learning are required at the conceptual level, which is different than the evaluations of the traditional rough learning. Concept inventories (CIs) should be organized as standard instrument to measure student conceptual understanding in areas where they commonly hold common misconceptions. Common inventories include typical multiple-choice tests, but wrong choices must be based on research findings indicating misconceptions, which diagnose or map a particular level of student conceptual understanding. Each wrong choice should reveal where student understanding has gone wasteful or become trap. It was suggested that instructors should address problem areas more effectively, using appropriate teaching techniques, which have also been identified through research in the classroom. This paper describes the problem, which has been my passion for teaching. I am interested in doing research on my own teaching effectiveness and students’ assessments on their learning on concept-based curriculum in genetics.  

 

2.     Design 

 

Safoutin, M. J., Atman, C.J., Adams, R., Rutar, T. K., Kramlich, J. C., & Fridley, J. L. (2000). A design attribute framework for course planning and learning assessment. IEEE Transaction on Education, 43 (2), 188-199. 

This paper discusses the design features for evaluating curriculum and for assessing student learning of knowledge and skills. The main characteristic of this design is a common framework for articulating individual components of design ability at various types of understanding. Application of the approach facilitates a collaborative link between researchers and engineering teaching faculty and serves to integrate and promote a focus on teaching and learning. This design provides a common characteristic for profiling learning objectives and creating survey instruments. Sharing a common standard for describing instructional activities and assessing students’ perceptions of their design knowledge and skills promotes an ongoing feedback, which can be used to refine faculty expectations and quality of student performance. This paper will be useful for designing learning assessment. 

 

Venville, G.J., & Treagust, D.F. (1998). Exploring conceptual change in genetics using a multidimensional interpretive framework. J. Res. Sci. Teacher, 35,1031-1055. 

This study examined the concept of genes during a 10-week genetics course. This course was for a high school 10th graders, and it has used multidimensional observations of lessons, classroom discussion, students’ interviews of their conceptual learning from epistemological, ontological, and social/affective perspectives. The results indicate that students' ontological conceptions of genes develop from the idea that a gene is a passive particle passed from parents to offspring, to being a more dynamic particle that controls characteristics. From a social/affective perspective, it was evident that even though the students enjoyed the genetics course, they often were uninterested in the microscopic explanatory mechanisms of genetics. The teaching approaches did not impressed majority of students about the sophisticated concept of the gene. The article concludes that Grade 10 student learning about the concept of the gene is an evolutionary process. Students are able to grasp weaker descriptions of conceptual change, but stronger conceptual understanding remains far from deeper understanding. This paper reminds me that the level of conceptual sophistication parallels students’ epistemological, ontological, and social perspectives, therefore all teaching methods are not equally good, and that will help me to select few approaches which seems to be effective for my teaching perspective. 

 

3.     Methods for data collection and analysis 

 

Orcajo, T.I., & Aznar, M.M. (2005). Solving problems in genetics II: Conceptual restructuring. International Journal of Science Education, 27 (12), 1495-1519. 

This paper describes an investigation with fourthlevel Spanish secondary education students (15 years old), in which they implemented a teaching unit based on problemsolving methodology to teach genetics. By solving open problems, the students experienced a conceptual restructuring that stayed with them over time and involved the following specific theories: the location of hereditary information, the transmission of hereditary information, and the appearance of new characteristic. The learning outcomes were compared with a control group that worked with closed problems, the usual approach to genetics teaching in Spanish classrooms. The study was able to verify that the methodology employed in this research results in better learning. This paper will be good method paper to use in students’ learning assessment. 

 

4.     Interpretation of the results 

 

Smith, M. K., Wood, W.B., & Knight J.K. (2008). The genetics concept assessment: A new concept inventory for gauging student understanding of genetics. Cell Biology Education, 7, 422-430. 

This article reports on a newly developed 25 question Genetics Concept Assessment (GCA) to test achievement of nine broad learning goals in majors and non-majors undergraduate genetics courses. The GCA is intended for use as a pre- and post-test to measure students’ learning gains. The assessment was reviewed by genetics experts, validated by student interviews, and taken by 600 students at three institutions. Normalized learning gains on the GCA were positively correlated with averaged exam scores, suggesting that the GCA measures understanding of topics relevant to instructors. Statistical analysis of the data shows that differences in the item difficulty and item discrimination index values between different questions on pre- and post-tests can be used to distinguish between concepts that are well or poorly learned during a course. They also describe how the GCA can be used to evaluate which concepts students have learned well and which still cause them persistent difficulties after taking a genetics course. This paper will help me to examine which concepts are good to teach at the Introductory genetics level, and find the areas of difficulties for the advance genetics course. This paper will also provide me the statistical design for students’ assessment and interpretation of the usefulness of specific method of instruction.  

 

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