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Chamany, K., Allen, D. & Tanner, K. (2008). Making biology learning relevant to students: Integrating people, history, and context into college biology teaching. CBE – Life Sciences Education, 7, 267-278.  


21st century problems are interdisciplinary so biology teaching needs to shift towards integrative learning and away from discipline specific content. This can be done by connecting biological content knowledge to social justice issues and the historical context for the founding of key biological principles. Integrating the human experience by using examples such as sickle cell anemia and the Lac operon and energetics allow for teaching a variety of complex biological concepts with a broad social context and fosters a stronger connection between different biological concepts. Integrating the social and historical context behind biological concepts such as those mentioned above also “demonstrate how biology taken out of social context can lead to widescale social injustice.”  


This paper not only gives specific examples of biology concepts that I can use to build the conceptual framework that I am working on, but also a wealth of resources to assist in connecting biology concepts to social context and for the history of biology. The paper also provides details and examples for proper assessment. 


Hiong, L. C. & Osman, K. (2013). A Conceptual Framework for the Integration of 21st Century Skills in Biology Education. Research Journal of Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology, 6(16), 2976-2983. 


The Ministry of Education Malaysia recognizes the need for a high-skilled local STEM workforce. As such education researchers propose a conceptual framework that integrates 21st century skills in the biology curriculum of upper secondary level. The goal is that the students who are exposed to the new curriculum will pursue biology at the post-secondary level. The proposed framework uses problem-based learning and inquiry-based learning as the main pedagogy techniques. The main assumptions of both methods are discussed and the essential features are listed. As of 2010 there were five conceptual frameworks for 21st century skills identified and the North Central Regional Education Laboratory and the Meriti Group’s framework was modified for the Malaysian education system. 


This paper outlines the state of biology education in Malaysia at the time of publication. I am particularly interested in the process towards the development of the conceptual framework. Additionally, detailed information is listed for a variety of skills that I am interested in including the framework that I am developing. Specifically, this paper identifies scientific literacy and multicultural literacy as components of a 21st century skills program for students to be functional citizens. 


Tessier, J. (2007). Small-Group peer teaching in an introductory biology classroom. Journal of College Science Teaching, 36(4), 64-69. 


Small-Group Peer Teaching was alternated with traditional lecture teaching in a nonmajors introductory biology course that is frequently taken by students aspiring to enter into the education program for teaching certification to assess student achievement through learning foundation biological concepts. During the first trial of this project, there was not a difference in student achievement during the first half of the semester; however, by the end of the semester, students performed significantly better on material learned through peer teaching. During the second trial of this project students received questions for SGPT before class so they had an opportunity to research and learn about the topics before the class period. There was no difference in student achievement for the first exam; however, by the second exam and the remaining of the semester, student achievement improved on material learned through peer teaching and traditional lecture. As with other research studies, students evaluated in this project had mixed feelings about the effectiveness of peer teaching versus traditional lecture teaching. 


The methodology section of this paper details some different ways to use statistics to analyze exam questions to assess student achievement by active learning techniques, which will help me determine how to set up my assessment tools. Additionally, the authors outline studies that show that students may be reluctant towards new pedagogies at first; however, there are improvements in thinking and learning skills, content knowledge, student attitudes toward the subject matter, etc. once the course modifications are made. Understanding what these other studies found will help me to design a study that will hopefully cut down the time needed for students to adjust to the modifications. 


Bringle, R.G., Hatcher, J.A., & Muthiah, R.N. (2010). The role of service-learning on the retention of first-year students to second year. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 38-49. 


The largest proportion of students are lost between their first and second years, so many colleges have developed programs of first year students to improve retention rates. The model used in this study is based on Tinto’s Theory of Student Departure which recognizes three sets of factors that influence student retention: institutional characteristics, individual characteristics, and the student’s interaction within the college environment. Tinto’s work also identifies classrooms as unique opportunities for retention because classrooms offer an intersection of academic and social systems, thus suggesting that retention efforts be integrated into everyday academic experiences. The authors identified service learning as a potential method to improve the retention rates of first year students since service learning can directly impact the student’s interaction within the college environment. More specifically this study suggests that students enrolled in service learning courses have a higher intention to remain at their campus and these students were more likely to re-enroll at their institution. 


This paper contains a detailed approach towards modifying an existing theoretical framework and applying it to specific research questions that will be beneficial during the development of my research study. The authors included a questionnaire to measure the Quality of the Learning Environment and this survey may be useful for my assessment tools. 


Felzien, L. & Salem, L. (2008). Development and assessment of service learning projects in general biology. Bioscene: Journal of College Biology Teaching, 34(1), 6-12. 


A service learning project was implemented into a general biology I course and an honors general biology course. Students enrolled in these courses were either assigned or allowed to pick a biology topic that aligned to the learning objectives of the course. The three main components of the project were to develop learning objectives, design and implement an activity to grade school and/or high school students, and complete a reflection paper. Self reporting by the students indicated that they had a better understanding of the concepts due to the service learning teaching experience. Additionally, students who completed more complex activities with high school students self reported higher levels of understanding. 


The three part design of the service learning project gives students specific goals and there are studies included in this paper that support the need for specific tasks to be completed by the students. Understanding how to develop and assess a service learning project for an introductory biology course is one of the goals of my research project, so this paper will be an asset as I begin the develop my framework. 




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