Evolution on the set – A conceptual characterization of online dynamic visualizations.
2014 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
Despite its recognized importance, the theory of evolution presents severe problems to learners. A common approach in science education research involves the division of evolution in conceptual constructs, lately also including the role of threshold concepts. These are seminal ideas that open up new ways of thinking about and interpreting previously known processes. For understanding of evolution, threshold concepts consist of, for example, randomness, probability and wide-stretched spatio-temporal scales. An abundance of dynamic visualizations (animations, videos and simulations), attempting to explain evolution, are available on the Internet. The aim with our study was to map what aspects of evolution that are represented in these visualizations. A criteria catalogue covering 42 operationalized variables was used as a content analysis grid in the analysis of a sample selection including 71 dynamic visualizations. The variables include evolution content concepts (such as limited resources and differential survival) and proposed threshold concepts (such as explicit mentioning of factors influenced by randomness or level of organization in space and time, including connections between submicro- and macro aspects). Furthermore, it includes common alternative conceptions (such as anthropomorphism or that evolution is driven by need). Two raters conducted the analysis with an overlapping reliability sample covering 23 visualizations. Intercoder reliability was calculated using Krippendorff’s alpha. The results indicate that some concepts are dominantly communicated while others are seldom or never included in online visualizations. Regarding the proposed threshold concepts, evolutionary events happening on small time- and spatial scales, such as subcellular processes, were seldom observed. Rather, the focus was on events happening at a population level in time scales spanning from years and longer. Implications include that there are components of evolution that would benefit from being addressed more explicit. The results may also serve as a useful toolkit in the design of new educational material.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-112116OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-112116DiVA: diva2:763328
FND 2014, Forskning i naturvetenskapernas didaktik - Modeller och representationer i naturvetenskaplig undervisning. 5-6 November, Karlstad, Sweden.
FunderSwedish Research Council, 2012-5344