Students’ Use of Terms and Conceptual Understanding inMaking Meaning of Visualizations of Protein Function
2010 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Molecular life science has become one of the fastest-growing fields regarding scientific and technical innovation. Images, diagrams and other forms of visualizations are playing increasingly important roles in molecular life science research, teaching and learning. This study examines how upper secondary students interpret visualizations of protein function. Thirteen upper secondary students and four tertiary students (majoring in biochemistry) were interviewed in semi-structured interviews. The interviews were structured around two 2D illustrations of proteins and an animated representation of water molecules being transported through a channel in the cell membrane. In the analysis of the transcripts, a score, based on the SOLO-taxonomy, was developed to evaluate the depth of students’ conceptual understanding. Furthermore, the relative use of scientific terms, metaphors, deictic and non-conventionalized expressions in the students’ explanations was also disclosed. The results indicate that the beginner students frequently use metaphors which came from their school education or created by themselves, i.e. spontaneous metaphors. Students also make use of non-conventionalized expressions that seemingly have no meaning in relation to scientific concepts and processes. The results from this study indicated that there was no simple positive correlation between use of scientific terms and the depth of conceptual understanding. Interestingly, in the interviews, non-conventionalized expressions were used to express conceptual understanding and they play a role in the meaning-making of the students. Moreover, the results revealed that difficulties in science education may to a large degree be connected to the potential problems concerning communicating the precise and general nature of scientific terms.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Conceptual understanding, visualizations, scientific terms, molecular biology education
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-60007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-60007DiVA: diva2:354598