Internalising concepts: • history, context and visuals • as tools for resource creation in biology • A Research proposal • Sindhu Mathai • Academics and Pedagogy, • University Resource Centre, AzimPremji University, Bangalore • July 2012
A research proposal… • The proposed research is tied to resource creation on challenging / difficult / tedious concepts in Biology • What may be good approaches to create resources on such concepts? • How do we create resources keeping these approaches in mind?
Criteria for creating resources around concepts • We have relied far too long and predominantly on the written word to communicate science to learners • However newer approaches such as videos and visual tools cannot stand in isolation without the rigour of the written word • Hence the need to integrate various contextual approaches
Criteria for creating resources around concepts • History of the discovery of a concept • Important to help students understand the nature and process of science and the working of scientists (Mathews, 1998) • The emphasis shifts to the process of science rather than the content as a mere body of facts • Communicates science as a social process, and also brings out the fallibility of scientists • Provides a narrative structure which is interesting and informative for students
Criteria for creating resources around concepts • Contextualised resources • Is Science objective and value free? How can we contextualise concepts in Science? • Contextual examples and narratives in biology create and sustain interest in the concept • It helps us understand culture specific difficulties in understanding the concept as well as alternative conceptions • It also facilitates the development of abstract thinking from the primary to the middle school years
Criteria for creating resources around concepts • Use of visuals • Biology is an inherently visual discipline • Visual information is presented spatially (the predominant mode being sequential). • Visuals are all around us and in a variety of forms: line drawings, paintings, photographs, videos, etc. We use a certain form depending on the context and purpose. • However they are subject to diverse interpretations since they cannot be read and written unlike language
Choice of concepts • Linnean taxonomy (Carl von Linnaeus, mid 18th century) Linnaeus’s flower clock, 1737
Choice of concepts • Darwin’s theory of Evolution by Natural Selection (1859) Darwin’s “Tree of Life”, 1859
Choice of concepts • Mendelian genetics (late 19th century) Mendel’s genetic symbols, 1875
Suggested methodology • Literature review: Research the history of the discovery of these concepts, the scientists, available visuals in the form of line drawings, photographs, videos, etc. from print and online resources. • Collaborate with / consult those who have worked in this area before, in addition to looking at available material to understand how these resources could be contextualised. • Resources in each concept will be in the form of a booklet with perhaps an accompanying CD. It will primarily take the form of a historical narrative. New visuals will be designed with the help of artists.
Suggested methodology • The completed resource will be peer-reviewed. The first set of modifications will be made before field testing. • The resources will be field tested with teachers with the help of the Field Institute resource persons in the form of modules. The feedback from these sessions could go into the second round of modifications.
Level of the school curriculum • Classification of plants and animals begins with the Environmental Studies curriculum in the primary years and goes up to the higher grades. For this research I will focus only on grades 6, 7 and 8 where Linnean Taxonomy is first introduced. • For Classical Genetics, grades 9 and 10 will be chosen since most concepts are dealt with in those grades. • For Evolution grades 11 and 12 will be chosen, since this is where it is first introduced.
Selected References • Darwin, Charles (1859). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1st ed.). London: John Murray • Linnaeus, C. (1735). Systemanaturae. HalaeMagdeburgicae. Retrieved from: http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/31224on 18th June 2012 • Mendel, G. (1866). VersucheüberPlflanzenhybriden. Verhandlungen des naturforschendenVereines in Brünn, Bd. IV für das Jahr 1865, Abhandlungen, 3–47. • Zivkovic, B. (2012). Carolus Linnaeus’s Floral Clocks. Retrieved from: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/a-blog-around-the-clock/2012/02/24/carolus-linnaeus-floral-clocks/on 18th June 2012
References: Images • Boeree, George (2000). Darwin. From Darwin and Evolution. Retrieved from: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/evolution.html on 18th June 2012 • Roslin, A. (1775). Carl von Linné. Stockholm: National Museum. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carl_von_Linn%C3%A9.jpg on 18th June 2012 • Mendel, Gregor. Retrieved from: http://history.nih.gov/exhibits/nirenberg/popup_htm/01_mendel.htm
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