Browsing by Subject "biologian opetus"

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  • Markula, Anette (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Interdisciplinary studies are currently an important topic in education. One reason behind this is the idea that students should learn 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, communication and problem-solving skills for their future careers. Interdisciplinary education has also been shown to increase students’ interest towards natural sciences. Furthermore, organizing cross-curricular learning units has become compulsory at a curricular level in Finland and other countries. Project-based learning is a widely supported teaching method in which learning is organized around projects. It is also a natural method to carry out interdisciplinary learning units. Project-based learning is usually defined by its characteristic features, and its successful implementation requires the teacher to have a good knowledge of them. However, these characteristics tend to be unknown for teachers. Research has also shown that teachers’ conceptions of what interdisciplinary education and project-based learning are, tend to vary. As such, it has been noted in the literature that there is a need to offer training and materials for the implementation of interdisciplinary and project-based learning for in-service teachers. Although MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have a lot of potential as a means of professional development, they are rarely planned to serve primarily as in-service teacher training. Empirical research into their design is also scarce. The main aims in this study were to 1) provide more information about interdisciplinary education within biology education 2) develop a MOOC for the professional development of biology teachers on the topic of interdisciplinary education and project-based learning. In addition to that the study aimed to develop the StarT programme of LUMA Centre Finland. The study was carried out as design-based research. The main research question that directed the design process was: what should a MOOC that supports teachers to carry out interdisciplinary project-based learning within the theme “nature and environment” in biology be like? Nature and environment was chosen as the context of the study as from the perspective of biology education it offers an important and current topic for interdisciplinary project units. The main research question was approached through a theoretical and empirical problem analysis. Theoretical problem analysis focused on researching the question in earlier literature, and the empirical problem analysis was carried out as a case study in which qualitative data was studied through deductive content analysis. The materials studied in the empirical problem analysis were project-based learning units of comprehensive schools and high schools. Their project units were studied through the following research questions: 1. How did teachers and students carry out the characteristics of project-based learning in the context of the theme nature and environment in biology? 2. How is biology taught in an interdisciplinary way in the theme nature and environment? The first question was studied through the characteristics that were identified for project-based learning in the theoretical problem analysis, and the second by looking at which subjects collaborated with biology, how the collaboration was carried out and how the learning communities experienced it. The goal was to find a) challenging characteristics of project-based learning and interdisciplinary education that should be considered the design of the MOOC b) good examples from the studied learning communities to be shared on the MOOC. The study subjects consisted of 12 learning communities who had participated in the international StarT programme of LUMA Centre Finland. In accordance with earlier studies, also the subjects of this study struggled especially with driving questions, the unity of the project activities and in using the projects as a means to learn central contents. Scientific practices were visible well apart from students’ questions, but it could not be defined how strongly student-led the inquiry was. The connection between instructions of StarT and the characteristics of project-based learning that were well represented in the materials seemed evident: collaboration, sharing results, end products and using technology were all visible throughout the analyzed learning communities. However, the materials offered little information about how the collaboration between different subjects was carried out in practice. The study indicated also that students and teachers paid attention to different aspects of the learning taking place in project-based learning, and that teachers might include topics of certain subjects into the project units without realizing it. This should be further researched, however. The issues identified in the problem analyses were used to design an international MOOC that is suitable especially for biology teachers. The course ”Project-based learning and the theory behind it – create your own project!” was created on the Moodle-platform of the University of Helsinki. In addition to this, a phased model for creating professional development in a situation where the studied materials can be used both to direct the design process and as materials on the course was created. The framework that was created for the analyses in this study can also be further used and developed to study how characteristics of project-based learning are represented in other cases where teachers’ and students’ project units are being studied. The study provided also new information about what is possible and feasible to study from the materials of StarT. New information was provided also of the project-based learning that takes place at the schools of the StarT participants, as they have not been researched from the perspective of the characteristics of project-based learning earlier.
  • Matikainen, Riikka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    In this master’s theses, Finnish biology teachers’ needs for material for continuing education and educational material for upper secondary school in epigenetics were studied. Two sets of educational materials, continuing educational material for teachers and educational material for upper secondary school teaching was produced accordant with the results. Epigenetics is used to describe stable alterations in gene expression which do not consider mutations in DNA sequence. DNA methylation, histone modifications and chromatin remodelling are the main epigenetic mechanisms to affect gene expression. Epigenetic modification patterns can alter de novo, or they can be originated by some environmental factor. Epigenetic regulation was introduced as a new subject matter in National Core Curriculum for General Upper Secondary Schools 2015 in Finland. Epigenetics is a relatively new branch in biology, and as a result many teachers have not studied the subject matter at the university. Continuing educational material is needed to update their knowledge. Biology teachers’ needs for material in epigenetics were studied with a survey which was distributed to the Biology and Geography Teachers’ Union’s e-mail list subscribers. Data was analysed qualitatively and quantitatively. In order to produce continuing educational material for teachers, literature regarding teacher competence, adult education and Finnish biology teachers’ subject expertise was examined. The concept of constructivist learning, and conceptual change were applied in the production of educational material for upper secondary school teaching. Relevant scientific literature in epigenetics was gathered and used to produce both sets of materials. In the study survey, the teachers reported specific individual educational needs which were acknowledged in the production of both sets of materials, alongside literature listed earlier. The survey showed that one of 33 biology teachers had studied epigenetics at the university, 20 of 33 teachers independently and 13 of 33 hadn’t studied epigenetics at all. The extent of the teachers’ studies in epigenetics was most often elementary and the main motivation to study epigenetics independently was a desire to handle the basics. The most common resource teachers used to study epigenetics was non-scientific magazines. Among the teachers who had not studied epigenetics at all, lack of time was the most common reason mentioned. However, 14 teachers described epigenetics as an important subject matter. Three teachers reported that they lack the expertise in teaching epigenetics and three felt that textbooks don’t offer support in teaching epigenetics. Online material and expert lectures were the most common continuing education material forms requested. Regarding the content of the continuing educational material for teachers, the most common requests were that the material should include the basics of epigenetics and practical examples. The form of educational material for upper secondary school teaching was most commonly requested to be online text or educational video. Regarding the content of the educational material for upper secondary school teaching, the most common requests among teachers were a summary of the theory of epigenetics and practical examples. The continuing educational material for teachers produced in this thesis consists of an introduction part and four parts about different subjects in epigenetics. The titles of the parts are: 1) What is epigenetics? 2) Molecular mechanisms of epigenetic gene regulation 3) Epigenetic gene regulation and 4) Epigenetic inheritance. The material was designed in a way that texts 3) and 4) are possible to comprehend without studying text 2) about molecular mechanisms of epigenetic regulation. The educational material for upper secondary school teaching consists of seven parts. At the beginning there is an introduction to teachers which is followed by six separate parts for students. Each part has a “Rehearse before reading”-box which introduces students to the subject and encourages rehearsal of biological concepts and vocabulary which are necessary for comprehending each part. After each part there are questions which test students’ learning as well as encourage to apply freshly acquired knowledge about epigenetics to other biological contexts. Titles for different parts are: 1) What is epigenetics? 2) Epigenetics and nutrition 3) Epigenetics and exercise 4) Epigenetics and mental health 5) Epigenetics and tortoiseshell cats and 6) Epigenetic inheritance. The material has been designed in such a way that the parts can be taught and learned separately. References are provided at the end of both material sets. Both materials produced in this thesis meet the teachers’ requests revealed in the survey. The form of the continuing educational material for teachers is online material, which was one of the most common requests among the teachers who answered the survey. The contents of the material correspond to the teachers requests as well, since most requested contents were the basics of epigenetics and practical examples. The educational material for upper secondary school teaching was requested as online material with a summary of the theory of epigenetics and practical examples, and all these requests were met. Both materials were produced considering relevant theories on pedagogy and adult education. Results of this study cannot be applied nationally in Finland since the sample size was small. Therefore, national relevance of the materials cannot be predicted. Predictions about the impact of the materials on teachers’ and students’ understanding about epigenetics cannot be made either, since learning is an active process which requires effort from the learner. However, a strong case can be made for the produced material, because materials include relevant information and their pedagogic choices can be justified by the literature. This thesis uncovered many questions for future research. For example, the efficacy of the materials could be studied in a practical classroom situation. Other possible questions for research or study designs could be about biology teachers’ expertise and continuing education in Finland.
  • Jussila, Terttu (Helsingfors universitet, 2012)
    In my master's thesis I have studied the characteristics of pedagogically well-designed web-based learning environment, where the contents are presented according to the principles of biology didactics. I have created a website called Virtuaalimetsä (Virtual Forest). Virtuaalimetsä is a web-based learning environment of Finnish forests for the pupils of classes 5 and 6 in primary school. Virtuaalimetsä is made to support both teaching and learning of biology. It offers lots of information and a variety of tools to develop thinking skills. The information of Virtuaalimetsä has its basis in biological research, but the academic nature of this information has been modified to be understandable to children. In this modification the didactics of biology and natural sciences has had a great role. The contents of Virtuaalimetsä fulfill the requirements of National Core Curriculum for Basic Education. With the information from research of blended learning Virtuaalimetsä website has become an effective learning environment. In planning and creating Virtuaalimetsä I had four objectives: 1. Objectives concerning blended learning: to create a good web-based learning environment 2. Objectives concerning learning materials: to increase learners' knowledge and develop their thinking skills, and to create proper tools to achieve this 3. Objectives concerning teaching: to support traditional teaching with a meaningful web-based learning environment 4. Objectives concerning environmental education: to awake a sense of environmental responsibility especially in relation to forests. To achieve these objectives I have studied research about blended learning and didactics of biology. Characteristics of a good web-based learning environment appears to be a proper pedagogical goal, clear research-based information, tools to develop thinking skills, information structuring and intense contemplation, as also logical and pedagogically operational website with good navigation tools. As the leading rules of teaching biology can be mentioned emphasizing the wholeness of nature, system thinking, proper use of concepts, holistic examination of ecological phenomena, using children's previous ideas as a basis for learning and developing observation skills. Virtuaalimetsä has six parts: Metsäkartta (Forest Map), Metsäpolku (Forest Path), Metsäsanasto (Forest Vocabulary), Testaa taitosi (Test your skills), Metsän kasvit (Forest Plants) and Opettajalle (For teacher). This division has been made consistently with the learning tools, and most parts offer a specific way to enhance learning. Virtuaalimetsä is further divided into sub-parts according to different themes: Metsä elinympäristönä (Forest as a habitat), Metsätyypit (Forest types), Metsän kerrokset (Forest layers) and Metsäluonnon monimuotoisuus (Biodiversity in forests). Forest Map concentrates on mind maps and concept maps. These help children to create ideas of wholes and concepts. Concept maps enhance active and meaningful learning and develop learners' meta-cognitive skills. Forest Path has the biological information of Virtuaalimetsä. The information is so presented that learners can get a good picture of forest nature as a whole and as a systemic structure. Information is presented at a concrete level, and new information is continuously connected to the context of forest. Thus the information is kept together, and no single detail is left detached. Many biological concepts are presented, and they help to compose a meaningful image of forests and of the nature of biological phenomena. In Virtuaalimetsä forest environment also gives a familiar ground to examine matter cycle, energy flow and population dynamics. These phenomena represent different kinds of interaction patterns and causal structures in nature, and that is why they improve development of biological thinking and understanding. To awake environmentally responsible attitudes Virtuaalimetsä offers a great deal of necessary information to contemplate environmental problems. Test you skills is a place for exercises. Exercises help in repetition, they give a possibility to test skills and most importantly they activate learned information. Many of the exercises are describing, comparing and classifying exercises, which help to understand the concepts. Exercises that involve explaining help to organize and analyze information. Forest Plants -part has a link to Helsinki University's Pinkka -learning environment. In Pinkka there is a section made especially for Virtuaalimetsä with 30 forest plant species. Plant identification has its own part in Virtuaalimetsä, because knowledge about species has a crucial role in understanding nature and ecosystems. In Forest vocabulary all the concepts presented in Virtuaalimetsä are explained in alphabetical order. In For teachers the idea of Virtuaalimetsä is explained in nutshell. There are also tips for teachers of how to use Virtuaalimetsä in teaching, and how to use information and cognitive tools for example in teamwork, whole class discussions or outside the classroom. The structure of Virtuaalimetsä website has been made into a logical and easily navigated whole by dividing the site according to the different cognitive tools and forest themes. Links are clearly presented, and studying is guided by explaining the contents of each part in advance and by giving tips of how to move in the site. There are also left many possibilities for learners to plan their own course of study. Multiple presentations are present: the information is presented both as pictures and text, and to minimize cognitive load all the information of one subject is presented on the same page.
  • Garcia Moreno-Esteva, Enrique; Kervinen, Anttoni; Hannula, Markku S.; Uitto, Anna (2020)
    In this article we discuss, as a proof of concept, how a network model can be used to analyse gaze tracking data coming from a preliminary experiment carried out in a biodiversity education research project. We discuss the network model, a simple directed graph, used to represent the gaze tracking data in a way that is meaningful for the study of students’ biodiversity observations. Our network model can be thought of as a scanning signature of how a subject visually scans a scene. We provide a couple of examples of how it can be used to investigate the personal identification processes of a biologist and non-biologist when they are carrying out a task concerning the observation of species-specific characteristics of two bird species in the context of biology education research. We suggest that a scanning signature can be effectively used to compare the competencies of different persons and groups of people when they are making observations on specific areas of interests.