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Meaning-Making in Molecular Life Science Education: upper secondary school students´interpretation of visualizations of proteins
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Natural Science - Medicine - Esthetics - Communication . Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.
2006 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Molecular life science has become one of the fastest-growing fields of scientific and technical innovation. An important issue for tomorrow-s education is to meet the challenge posed by various facets of molecular life science. This thesis highlights four aspects of molecular life science education: the rapid production and flow of information, its multi- and interdisciplinary character, the complexity of life phenomena and our knowledge of them, and the high level of abstraction of the knowledge produced. Images, diagrams and other forms of visualization are playing increasingly important roles in molecular life science teaching and research, both for conveying information and as conceptual tools, transforming the way we think about the events and processes the subject covers. This study examines how upper secondary school students interpret visualizations of proteins. The participating students were taking different variants of the natural science program in the second (grade 11) or third (grade 12) year of their upper secondary school education in Sweden. A set of 107 students answered a questionnaire with open-ended questions about proteins, and 20 were interviewed in semi-structured, revised clinical interviews. The interviews were structured around 2D illustrations of proteins and an animated representation of water molecules being transported through a channel in the cell membrane. The results from the study indicate occurrence of alternative conceptions relating to scale and systems level, DNA-related problems and confusion about the properties of the cell membrane. Three sources of difficulties regarding the ability to visualize biomolecular processes were identified: the complexity of biomolecular processes, the dynamic nature of the processes and extrapolations between 2D and 3D conceptions. The results indicate that the students may possess an understanding of a process (expressed in the visual code) which they cannot express in words. The results also indicate that beginner students use a kind of intermediate language when learning a new content area, frequently making use of metaphors, some that they have obtained from their teaching and some that they create themselves, i.e. spontaneous metaphors. They also make use of words that seemingly have no meaning, such as -plupp- and -flopp-. These words are here referred to as helpwords. The results from this study indicate that spontaneous metaphors and helpwords do take on a meaning in learning situations and that they play a role in the meaning-making of the students.   

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 2006. , 24 plus 3 articles and 3 appendices p.
Studies in Science and Technology Education, ISSN 1652-5051 ; 2
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-38439Local ID: 44367ISBN: 91-8564-352-1OAI: diva2:259288
Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2014-02-05Bibliographically approved

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Rundgren, Carl-Johan A.
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Natural Science - Medicine - Esthetics - Communication Faculty of Educational Sciences
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