Searching for threshold concepts in evolution by using an open response instrument
2015 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Despite decades of research evolution remains a challenge to teachers and learners. Student reasoning about evolutionary processes tend to lack important key concepts and exhibits a range of well documented alternative conceptions. New research in the domain of conceptual change has generated the notion of threshold concepts. Threshold concepts focus on abstract concepts thought to underlie difficult content in a discipline. The hope is that this research will contribute to better teaching practises as well as understanding of what makes certain discipline content difficult. Earlier research has revealed candidate threshold concepts underlying understanding of evolution. Our aim of this study was to pilot ways to assess if and which threshold concept student use in response to different items as well if different contexts facilitates integration of threshold concepts in explanations. We used a published evolution test instrument to assess the presence of evolution key concepts, threshold concepts. The test instrument was piloted on 113 Swedish upper secondary and university students. Analysis revealed the presence of evolution key concepts as well as threshold concepts and alternative conceptions. The context of the question seem to affect what threshold concepts are used by students. We also found indications of a relation between evolution key concepts and threshold concepts usage. Implications for future research as well as teaching are briefly discussed.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
threshold concepts, evolution, conceptual understanding
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-122569OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-122569DiVA: diva2:868093
ESERA 2015 11th biannual Conference of the European Science Education Research Association. 31 august - 4 september, 2015, Helsinki, Finland.
FunderSwedish Research Council, 2012-5344