Browsing by Subject "biology education"

Sort by: Order: Results:

Now showing items 1-7 of 7
  • 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.
  • Aivelo, Tuomas; Uitto, Anna (2021)
    Understanding how teaching affects students' attitudes and beliefs is notoriously difficult, specifically in a quickly evolving and societally relevant field such as genetics. The aim of this survey study is to capitalize our previous research and examine how teaching relates to Finnish secondary school students' liking of, self-concept in and experienced utility of genetics, attitude towards gene technology and belief in genetic determinism. In this unique setting, we used as explanatory variables their teachers' teaching emphases and learning materials, and as student-related factors, we used gender and the number of biology courses attended. Item-response theory with exploratory, confirmatory, and explanatory analyses were carried out to model the data. Teaching explained students' attitudes and beliefs: if the teacher's emphasis was Hereditary or the textbook with stronger Mendelian emphasis was used, students tended to havemore negative attitudes towards learning genetics and stronger belief in genetic determinism . Our results also suggest gender differences: male students had more positive attitude towards gene technology, higher self-concept, whereas as utility of genetics and belief in genetic determinism were higher in females. The results suggest that teaching' approaches as well as learning materials need updates to fulfil the needs for genetics literacy
  • Kervinen, Anttoni; Uitto, Anna; Juuti, Kalle (Dublin City University, 2018)
    Outdoor environments are considered as important learning environments in biology education. Previous studies on outdoor education and fieldwork indicate many positive impacts on students’ cognitive and affective achievements. However, the amount of fieldwork in biology education has declined during the past decades and is considered to be low in many countries. Outdoor education often consists of single fieldtrips guided by outdoor educators, and little research has been done on fieldwork as a regular part of formal science education. In this paper, we focus on three secondary school biology teachers who use fieldwork extensively. Based on semi-structured interviews and qualitative data analysis, we studied their views on and arguments for fieldwork as part of regular biology teaching. According to the results, the teachers considered fieldwork as a meaningful alternative for teaching many contents and skills included in the curriculum. The teachers emphasized students’ authentic nature experiences and the importance of affective and cognitive experiences as the main arguments for fieldwork. Besides the curricular learning goals, they placed at least equally important emphasis on students’ experiences as part of theircomprehensive wellbeing and the development of positive relationship with nature. Knowledge on goals behind extensive outdoor education practices will help focus further studies about the role of fieldwork in biology education.
  • Södervik, Ilona; Nousiainen, Maija; Koponen, Ismo (2021)
    The purpose of this study is to increase the understanding about undergraduate life science students’ conceptions concerning the role of photosynthesizing plants in the ecosystem, utilizing a network analysis method. Science learning requires the integration and linking of abstract and often counterintuitive concepts successfully into multifaceted networks. The quality of these networks, together with their abilities to communicate via the language of science, influences students’ success in academic, verbal problem-solving tasks. This study contributes to investigating students’ understanding, utilizing a modern network analysis method in exploring first-year university life science students’ written answers. In this study, a total of 150 first-year life science students answered two open-ended tasks related to the role of photosynthesizing plants in the ecosystem. A network analysis tool was used in exploring the occurrence of different-level science concepts and the interrelatedness between these concepts in students’ verbal outputs. The results showed that the richness of concept networks and students’ use of macro-concepts were remarkably varied between the tasks. Higher communicability measures were connected to the more abundant existence of macro-concepts in the task concerning the role of plants from the food-chain perspective. In the answers for the task concerning the role of plants regarding the atmosphere, the students operated mainly with single facts, and there were only minor interconnections made between the central concepts. On the basis of these results, the need for more all-encompassing biology teaching concerning complex environmental and socio-economic problems became evident. Thus, methodological and pedagogical contributions are discussed.
  • Aivelo, Tuomas; Uitto, Anna (2019)
    Science education strives to increase interest in science and facilitate active citizenship. Thus, the aspects of personal and societal relevance are increasingly emphasised in science curricula. Still, little is known about how teachers choose content for their teaching, although their choices translate curricula to teaching practice. We explored how teachers choose genetics content and contexts for biology courses on cells, heredity and biotechnology by interviewing ten Finnish upper-secondary school teachers. We studied how the teachers described teaching on three themes in which they have varying freedom afforded by curricula: genetically modified organisms, hereditary disorders, and complex human traits. We analysed interviews with theory-guiding content analysis and found consistent patterns in teachers' perceptions of the themes in genetics teaching and teacher inclinations towards teaching genetics in human context. These patterns, which we call emphasis of content in genetics teaching were Developmental, Structural and Hereditary. Teachers with Developmental emphasis embraced teaching genetics in a human context, while teachers with a Structural emphasis avoided them. In general, teachers justified their choices by national, local school, and personal factors. While teachers mentioned that societal and personal contexts are important, at the same time teachers never framed the main themes in genetics with these contexts.
  • Uitto, Anna; Kärnä, Pirkko (European Science Education Research Association ESERA, 2014)
    The relationship between different teaching methods, lower secondary school students’ performance in biology and their attitudes to learning biology were studied. The survey data consisted of 2 989 ninth grade students responses from 97 comprehensive schools. Teacher-led instruction, individual work, interactive work, inquiry-based approach, visits outside the school, use of information and communications technology (ICT) and methods that enhanced students’ autonomy were found when Likert-scaled items measuring the use of different teaching methods were analysed with explorative factor analysis (EFA). Multiple choice questions and production assignments were used to measure students’ knowledge and cognitive skills. Attitude dimensions like the utility of biology, liking of biology as school subject and self-concept in learning of biology were also found with EFA. The EFA scores were analysed on the school level as the averages of 97 schools. Students’ school-specific average performance in biology correlated strongly only with inquirybased teaching method. Different attitude dimensions correlated more strongly with interactive work than with teacher-led instruction. Use of ICT correlated only slightly with the attitude dimensions of utility of biology and liking of biology as school subject. Visits outside the school did not correlate with any of the studied dimensions. The results indicate the importance of inquiry-based teaching approach in the lower secondary school biology. It is important for the students to make experimental investigations and observations, take part in biology demonstrations, ponder causes and effects and apply knowledge to everyday live. Student-centred, activating and participatory methods are essential to enhance students’ attitudes to learning biology in the Finnish lower secondary school.
  • Neiro, Jakke; Johansson, Niko R (2020)
    The history and evolution of science assessment remains poorly known, especially in the context of the exam question contents. Here we analyze the Finnish matriculation examination in biology from the 1920s to 1960s to understand how the exam has evolved in both its knowledge content and educational form. Each question was classified according to its topic in biology, and its cognitive level by Bloom’s taxonomy. Overall, the exam progressed from a rather dichotomous test of botany and zoology to a modern exam covering biology from biochemistry to environmental science, reflecting the development of biology as a scientific discipline. The contribution of genetics increased steadily, while ecology witnessed a decline and a renaissance during the same time period. The biological profile of the questions was established by the 1950s. The educational standard and cognitive demand of the questions was always high and established by the 1940s.