Diverse use of threshold concepts - A content analysis of online dynamic visualizations describing evolution.
2015 (English)Conference paper, Poster (Refereed)
There is an abundance of dynamic visualizations (animations, videos and simulations) that claim to explain evolution available on the Internet. The present study explores what aspects of evolution that are represented in these potential learning tools. A criteria catalogue covering 40 operationalized variables was used as a content analysis grid in the analysis of 71 dynamic visualizations. The concepts, derived from research literature, were operationalized into variables sorted into four different categories: (a) content-specific concepts (such as limited resources or inherited variation), (b) threshold concepts (core concepts that transform and integrate understanding within a subject), (c) alternative conceptions (such as teleological explanations or anthropomorphism), and (d) model organism. 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. This echoes with an observed lack of explanations regarding randomly occurring mutations providing the basis for variation. Implications include that there are components of evolution that would benefit from being addressed with an increased focus in biology teaching and science education research. The results may also serve as a useful toolkit in the design of new educational material.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Evolution, Threshold concepts, Dynamic visualizations
Didactics Evolutionary Biology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-121370OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-121370DiVA: diva2:853962
ESERA 2015, 11th Conference of the European Science Education Research Association. 31 Aug - 4 Sept. Helsinki, Finland.
FunderSwedish Research Council, 2012-5344