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PART IV instructional Procedures ant! Materials
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17 To Weed or to Cullivate Which? MARY BUDD ROWE lb weed or to cultivate-which? That is the question we must ask of all that we do in biology education at whatever level it takes place. In fact, it appears that 'leveed," rather than "cultivate," is the dominant strategy at virtually all levels of biology instruction, at least to the end of the sophomore year in college. Biology is host to the most exciting ideas and could have more impact on the quality of student life than any other curricular offering but you could not guess that from current textbooks or from curricular outlines or from standardized tests or from much of the observable instruction. The weeding approach appears in some places as early as the middle-school life-science course, becomes more vigorous in the high-school biology program, and goes on with a vengeance in the beginning university courses. What would we do differently if we shifted from weeding to cultivating? For one thing, we would put story lines, or themes, or some articulated pat- terns of ideas back into the texts, i.e., provide some meaningful frameworks for the budding and attachment of new shoots of information. Most of the current biology texts read like glossaries. Denuded of story lines, these products of massive agglutinations of facts were induced in response to an epidemic of testing, which currently plagues the educational countryside. Mary Budd Rowe is professor of education at the University of Florida, a former president of the National Science leachers Association, and author of numerous papers on high-school biology education. 151
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152 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY That means, of course, that in order to change texts we need to change tests to conform to the images, ideas, attitudes, and patterns of relationships among these that we want to characterize a program focused on cultivating a rich biological perspective in all students given into our care for roughly 150 hours in a typical academic year. One hundred fifty hours is all we have to start a mental mutation in our students. Aside from changing the tools- i.e., texts and tests we have to con- sider faculty susceptibility to the ideas of a biology with a much broader perspective than they feel free to take in the currently prevalent "weed 'em out" ideology. Under the philosophy of cultivation, we do more to help more students to achieve and maintain an interest in biology for the rest of their lives. We know something of what it would take to make that happen, but we are like the county agent who has a "new" method that will increase productivity, but can't find anyone willing to risk a change. What must we do? Consider first some of the major questions in the minds of adolescents. What can a biology program contribute to their search for solutions? Certainly, we cannot ignore the questions. They tell you what the agenda is from the students' perspective. · What kind of country is this? What values control activities? Where do I fit in? Do they expect me to succeed or fail? How much effort do I need to make? Is success worth the effort? · Can I get help? Do I have the energy and endurance? What happens if I do not make the effort? What am I up against? What is the competition? What difference can I make? Do I care? Does anybody care? Instructors and program developers also have an agenda. The agendas must be effectively meshed. We must attend to both the content and the process by which students become engaged with the ideas of biology. The cycle of relationships can serve as a useful template for planning purposes (Figure 1~. It depicts fundamental elements that ought to be addressed in a biology program. With the template as a guide, examine the texts, tests, curriculum- instruction as it actually takes place. Ask how often in the 150 hours an opportunity to go completely around the cycle (starting at any place) occurs. In the weeding paradigm, which is largely turf-bounded, it rarely happens. Participation in such a cycle, however, is essential to the growth
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TO WEED OR TO CULTIVATE WHICH? ACTIONS/APPLICATIONS / WAYS OF KNOWING What Do I Know? Why Do I Believe It? What Is the Evidence? 153 What Do I Infer? What Must I Do With What I Know? What Are the Options? Do I Know How to Take Action? Do I Know When to Take Action? VALUES/WHO CARES? Do I Care? Do I Value the Outcome? Who Cares? \ CONSEQUENCES Do I Know What Would Happen? FIGURE 1 Guide for examining curriculum: fundamental elements in a program (Rowe, 1983~. Of the biological perspective that we want to cultivate in students, who will be spending the larger part of their lives in the next century. The cycle carries in it the theme of connectedness, instead of the aura of chaos. Of all the scientific and technological ideas confronting us today, possibly the most important is the recognition that humankind is a single world-wide, interdependent species. Survival, therefore, may depend on our ability to speed up the process of cooperation. That, in turn, depends on whether we can develop ways of thinking and feeling that support the process. Attitudes, beliefs, emotions, tastes, and ideologies can either motivate us to engage in productive problem-solving or turn us into fearful, turf-ridden, withdrawn people. They can energize us or enervate us. They can give license to our curiosity and fuel our persistence in the face of difficulties, or they can turn us into frenzied fanatics. They can be the source of public venturesomeness or public apathy. Our world of divergent communities is kept separate by the firmness of differing beliefs, aspirations, trusts and distrusts, convictions, and habits of resolving conflicts. These are the gatekeepers of our future, for they are the framework within which we interpret our experiences, make decisions, and take actions. Presumably,
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154 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY education can make a difference as to the direction In which they develop. If we regard attitudes, beliefs, feelings, tastes, and curiosity as untapped sources of national power to be cultivated In part by what we do In biology programs, then we may see our purpose well expressed by Gwen Frostic, Michigan naturalist, poet, and artist: We must create a great change in human direction an understanding of the interdependency by which the universe evolves. Know that knowing- is the underlying foundation for the life we must develop . . . We cannot leave it to the scientists nor any form of government- each individual must fuse a philosophy with a plan of action. REFERENCES Frostic, G. 1970. Beyond Time. Benzonia, Mich.: Presscraft Papers. Rowe, M. B. 1983. Science education: A framework for decision makers. Daedalus 112~2~:123 142.
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18 Biology Learning Based on Illustrations ROBERT V. BLYSTONE Illustrations have become an essential part of the biology learning experience. Encompassing graphs, charts, flowcharts, diagrams, line draw- ings, photographs, and symbols, illustrations are found in biology textbooks, computer programs, instructional audiovisual media, and even classroom wall coverings. In a world where 85% of all the messages we receive are vi- sual (Doblin, 1980), illustrations are too often poorly used in both teaching and learning strategies. Proper development and use of illustrations can appreciably aid in the understanding and advancement of biology learning. IMPORTANCE OF ILLUSTRATIONS TO TEXTBOOKS Virtually every high-school biology course uses textbooks. Goldstein (1978) has estimated that 75% of the classroom time and 90% of homework time involve textbook use. The examination of biology textbooks provides a good starting point for the evaluation of the impact of illustrations on biology learning. From the tiger on the front of HO Biology (Goodman et al., 1986) to the lurking black panther of Johnson's Biology (1987), the covers of Robert V. Blystone, professor of biology at llinity University in San Antonio, received a B.S. in 1965 from the University of Texas, El Paso, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in 1968 and 1971 from the University of Texas, Austin. He has taught at llinity University since 1971 and sewed as chairman of biology in 1984-1986. Dr. Blystone's research interests include science textbooks and electron microscopy of developing lungs. 155
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devices. 156 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY today's high-school and college biology textbooks symbolize the importance of illustrations. Frequently, biology teachers identify textbooks by the illus- tration on the cover: '`the red-blood-cell book," Heath Biology (McLaren and Rotundo, 1989~; "the owl book," Holt's Modern Biology Ale, 1989~; or "the parrot book," Mader's Biology (1987~. Although the pictures are purely decorative, publishers willingly spend upwards of $10,000 for the perfect textbook cover picture. Many consider the colorful artwork in to- day's textbooks as frivolous and there primarily to sell the books (Davies, 1986~. From half to three-quarters of the cost of the development of a new high-school textbook is invested in artwork and graphic design (John McClements, Addison-Wesley Publishers, personal communication). But is this emphasis on colorful covers and on the artwork on the pages in both high-school and college textbooks frivolous? Comparison of textbook editions reveals evolutionary changes in con- tent and format. The first edition of Keeton's Biological Science appeared in 1967, and the fourth edition in 1986 (Keeton and Gould, 1986~. With more and larger pages, the fourth edition has over 75% more page space; however, the number of words has increased a scant 10%. The majority of the additional space has been used for additional illustrations. Similar increases in textbook size, primarily for illustrations dealing with new concepts, may be seen in other college and high-school book editions. Three reasons contribute to this change: · Good artwork does sell textbooks. · Research has shown that illustrations are effective cognitive Illustrations keep the length of a textbook down by presenting concepts in less space than text alone. The first reason should come as no surprise. The second reason has recently come to light. Until about 20 years ago, the conclusion of most research concerning illustrations as learning devices was that they were neutral or negative in effect. With the work of Dwyer (1972), Wyman (1985), Holliday (1975), and others, a large body of evidence has been collected that properly designed illustrations do work (Levie, 1987~. The third reason is not generally recognized. Blystone and Barnard (1988) showed that the average major texts will reach 1,450 pages by the year 2000 at the present rate of increase. Publishers fully recognize that few people want a 1,450-page college introductory textbook; yet academe wants nothing left out of the book. An illustration takes less space to present complex information than does verbal text; remember that a picture is worth 1,000 words. By using more illustrations, a publisher is increasing the attractiveness of the book, in- creasing understandability, and saving precious space. These three reasons
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BIOLOGY LEARNING BASED ON ILLUSTRATIONS ~, , 157 have contributed to illustrations' becoming more important to the message and selling of the textbook. Textbooks for college biology majors in the 1950s averaged over 600 pages and in the 1980s over 1,100 pages long. Blystone and Barnard (19881 reported a decline in the proportion of pages in college biology textbooks with no illustrations from 52% to 22% during this period. The use of photographs increased nearly threefold during the same interval. In contrast with today's textbooks, no color was used in the college biology books of the 1950s. The changes reported for college biology textbooks are mirrored in the high-school texts. The 1987 edition of BSCS (the green edition) is over 1,000 pages long. The emphasis on more illustration in high-school textbooks has also carried over from the college field. The 1989 edition of Modem Biology (Towle, 1989) has nearly all color artwork, and even many of the scanning and electron micrographs are colorized. INCREASED COMPLEXITY OF ILLUSTRATIONS The subject and content of college textbook illustrations have changed considerably over the last 30 years. Figure 1 describes the changes in illustration subject emphasis in college textbooks. On the basis of five levels of biological organization for subject identification, illustrations with molecular and cellular content have appreciably increased. Illustrations concerning whole organisms have also increased. However, the frequency of illustrations with organ- and tissue-level subjects has remained nearly the same (Blystone and Barnard, unpublished). The increase in cellular and molecular illustrations is predictable, given the prominence of today's genetic and biochemical information. The data on the other three levels are difficult to explain. The range of complexity of illustrations can be demonstrated by com- paring the first and fourth editions of Keeton's Biological Science. On page 291 of the first edition, a two-dimensional, black-and-white rendering of a grasshopper is seen. The drawing occupies a quarter of a page, in contrast with an eighth-of-a-page, three-dimensional, color version of a grasshopper seen on page 366 in the fourth edition. The latter illustration is far more realistic than the original, and it uses space more economically. This is a common strategy in textbook revisions. Comparisons of fluid mosaic membrane models from Merrill's Biology: Living Systems (Oram, 1983, p. 75), HBJ Biology (Goodman et al., 1986, p. 102), and Heath Biology (McLaren and Rotundo, 1985, p. 71) reveal great variation in complexity of the representation. In terms of content, the Heath Biology high-school textbook illustration would rival Johnson's Biology (1987, p. 57), a college rendering of the same topic. Variation in complexity of illustrations is apparent in cell models. Four
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158 4 In llJ C, CL z Or ~ 2 tar llJ ~ 1 At 1952 FIGURE 1 Subjects of textbook illustration. HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY ~ Whole Organism __ Organ Level Tissue Level ~ Cell Level _O Molecular Level 1957 YEAR 1 985 examples would be HA Biology (Goodman et al., 1986, p. 83), Addison- Wesley's Biology (Kormondy and Essenfeld, 1988, p. ill), Holt's Modern Biology (Otto and joule, 1985, p. 60), and BSCS Biological Science: A Molecular Approach (1985, p. 25). The simplest is the HBJ diagram, which reiterates the classic cell diagram in the Scientific American (1961) special issue on the cell. The most complex would be the Addison-Wesley illustration. All four texts are oriented toward the same market; yet, the illustrations vary dramatically in complexity. Which model would best suit the cognitive level of the audience? The answer is left wanting. Diagrams in textbooks today at both high-school and college levels are more complex. They show much more motion, events at different times within the same illustration, spatial relationships, and process. But an evenness of presentation in terms of this complexity does not exist between textbooks and even within the same textbook In a period when verbal text complexity is constrained by reading level and interest formulas, the illustration levels can suing like the moods of a manic-depressive. SUBTLETIES OF ILLUSTRATION DESIGN Analysis of illustrations can reveal many subtleties. For example, com- pare the endoplasmic-reticulum (ER) illustration in the 1985 Heath Biology (McLaren and Rotundo, 1985, p. 73) and Addison-Wesley's Biology (Kor- mondy and Essenfeld, 1988, p. 106~. The Heath version shows ribosomes
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BIOLOGY LEARNING BASED ON ILLUSTMTIONS ~- 3-A FIGURE 2 Different presentations of sarcomere concept. 159 3-B in random array on the ER surface, whereas Addison-Wesley depicts ribo- somes beaded on messenger RNA and attached to the ER. A more subtle problem can be found when comparing the sarcomere illustrations of Keeton and Gould's Biological Science (1986, p. 541) and Raven and Johnson's Biology (1986, p. 132) with that of Curtis's Biology (1983, p. 810) and Mader's Biology (1987, p. 548~. Figure 2 is a recreation of these diagrams. The first two texts are represented on the left side of Figure 2, and the latter two on the right side. Obviously, the left side shows one sarcomere, and the right side one sarcomere and portions of two adjacent sarcomeres. On a recent biology advanced-placement examination, where muscle contraction was explored in a question, most students using illustrations like the left side of Figure 2 would present sarcomere structure as did their text- exactly one sarcomere. In the essay component of the answer, many of these students did not indicate that many sarcomeres operate together. These students viewed muscle contraction in terms of exactly one sarcomere- just as the illustration presented sarcomere structure. Students who learned with sarcomere textbook illustrations like the right side of Figure 2 more frequently recognized that many sarcomeres operate together during contraction. All diagrams are correct in this case, but the students received a better perspective of muscle contractions with the two-sarcomere illustration. These subtle distinctions in illustrations can affect how a student learns. Recall again the model cell diagram from the September 1961 Scientific American. This cell model, now known to be incorrect, still influences learning today. Illustrations often outlive the corresponding text. Illus- trations frequently make a more lasting impression on learning than does the verbal text. Subtle design features, such as beaded ER ribosomes and two-sarcomere models, have lasting effects to an extent greater than many people are generally aware. CURRENT DIRECTION OF ILLUSTRATIONS Textbook graphic designers are taking advantage of new computer technology. High-school biology books are pioneering the use of colored l
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21 Messing About in Science: Participation, Not Memorization CANDACE L. JULYAN INTRODUCTION Consider how you first became interested in science. For many people, that interest grew from a cunosi~ about a particular phenomenon or organism. Satisfying the curiosity, or what David Hawkins (1978) calls "messing about," often resulted in some type of relatively unstructured exploration led by one's own questions, rather than the questions of others. Unfortunately, messing about is not a common practice in many science classrooms today. Students are more likely to be introduced to organisms and phenomena through text-based lectures than by making sense of their own observations. The result of our current science curricula is not only a lack of interest in science as a profession, but also a lack of scientific understanding. The purpose of this paper is to encourage a consideration of the pos- sibilities of instructional materials that allow students to explore science through projects, rather than texts. While this approach to biology ed- ucation may differ dramatically from the current practice, I believe that it moves students closer to the experience of science and potentially may offer a deeper understanding of the topics of study. This belief is based Candace L. Julyan is the manager of curriculum and training for the National Geographic Kids Network, a National Science Foundation-funded science curriculum developed at Technical Ed- ucation Research Centers, Cambridge, Massachusetts. She received a doctorate from Harvard University, and her research has focused on high-school students' understanding of leaves chang- ing color. 184
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MESSING ABOUT IN SCIENCE 185 on both research and practice: research about how students make sense of science topics and practice as seen in field tests of a new set of instructional materials under development. Although Audrey Champagne has already addressed this area of research, I would like to return to that topic briefly to connect our growing knowledge of students' understanding of science topics with appropriate design for instructional materials. RESEARCH ON STUDENT LEARNING In the last decade, educational researchers have introduced new data about how students explain science topics to themselves. Studies based on interviews and teaching situations, rather than tests, encompass a range of topics, such as weight and density (Smith, 1985; Duckworth, 1986), heat and temperature (Smith, 1985), gravity (Stead and Osborne, 1981; Gunstone and White, 1981), light (Stead and Osborne, 1980; Anderson and Smith, 1983), energy (Brook and Driver, 1984), complex systems (Duckworth et al., 1985), and plants (Bell and Brook, 1984; Julyan, 1988~. These studies present surprising information about students' preconceptions about how the world works. Although the methods differ, the data suggest that these ideas, referred to by some as "misconceptions," form a basic structure of knowledge that either helps or hinders an individual's ability to make sense of the material presented in the classroom. In addition, these studies suggest that a student's initial beliefs are remarkably resilient and are not erased when a teacher presents new information that might challenge those beliefs. This is an important point to keep in mind: Students do not learn simply by being told. If correct, how might this supposition affect the work of a science classroom? Osborne and Gilbert (1980) contend that many students merge their erroneous thoughts with the words presented in science class, resulting in continued misconceptions that are now misidentified with a scientific term. These authors believe that by ignoring the ideas that students have before science instruction the teacher may inadvertently continue to support these incorrect notions. A second concern that is raised by this supposition Is that the work of the science classroom cannot rely on lecture- and text-based activities if students are to understand the subject matter. Futhermore, data from several of these studies (Bell and Brook, 1984; Duckworth, 1986; Julyan, 1988) suggest that knowing correct terms does not help students to make sense of their observations. In fact, in many cases, scientific terms may be used to mask confusion. Knowing words does not constitute understanding. While I am certainly not suggesting a classroom ban on scientific terms, I do suggest that we reconsider their importance. The difference between memorizing vocabulary words related to science topics and understanding
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186 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY various phenomena is considerable. Certainly those of us involved in science and science education realize the difference and are striving for the latter. Science-as-vocabulary requires less effort on the part of both the teacher and the student, but it also provides fewer rewards. Students, I believe, are also aware of the difference; and if given the choice, they too would strive for understanding. This point was highlighted for me several years ago by a high-school student who was participating in a research study on how students make sense of a complex system (Duckworth et al., 1985~. ~ examine this question, my colleagues and I had devised a number of experiments featuring helium balloons weighted with enough strands of string so that the string dragged on the floor. The students' task was to explain why the balloon's position in the air changed as they did various tasks such as tying knots in the string, cutting the string, putting the balloon on a table, etc. After several weeks of experimenting, the balloons continued to sur- prise one student whose frustration with her lack of understanding was often visible. One day, she turned to me demanding to know whether I intended to tell her `'the answer." When I asked her to state the question, she seemed momentarily stumped, but then stated that she wanted to know why the balloon behaved in the way that it did in all the various experiments that she had conducted. While certainly willing to answer her question, I stated that I wanted to be clear about what she wanted. Did she want words that explained the phenomenon or did she want to understand it herself. There was a long and poignant silence in the room. Finally, she turned and quietly said that the words were not what she wanted; she really wanted to understand. While most students might not articulate the dilemma as clearly as this student, many share her desire to understand, not just to know the correct words. One way to promote both understanding and the value of scientific terms is to give students an opportunity to mess about in their science classes, to become participants in constructing their knowledge. Inquiry-based activities are certainly not the fastest way to approach science learning. A faster and more "efficient" approach is text-based, lecture-based classes. This approach, which is certainly the predominant approach in science classes today, is not terribly effective, as indicated in the numerous reports about science education and the low enrollment in science classes. Change is definitely needed. Let me turn now to a curriculum that offers this type of change. A NEW lYPE OF SCIENCE CURRICULUM While the importance of inquiry in the science classroom is certainly not a new idea, my colleagues and I at Technical Education Research
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MESSING ABOUT IN SCIENCE 187 Centers (TERC) are developing a curriculum that has a new commitment to the notion of inquiry. Because its operating premise about what is possible in a science classroom is unusual, I offer it as an example of an unconventional approach to instructional materials worth noting. The basic premise of this curriculum, the National Geographic Kids Network, is that students can and should be scientists, that they can and should converse with real scientists about their work and that computers can enhance this enterprise. Students, therefore, conduct experiments, analyze data, and share their results with student colleagues using a simple computer-based telecommunication network. This collection and making sense of data gives these students an opportunity to experience the excitement of science that scientists feel. We are just beginning the third of 4 years of this National Science Foundation-funded project, which represents a partnership between TERC and the National Geographic Society (NGS). TERC is developing the curriculum and software for the project; NGS will publish and distribute the final product. The full curriculum, designed for upper elementary school, grades 4 through 6, will consist of a number of 6-week units, which are intended to supplement the regular curriculum. Each unit focuses on an environmentally oriented topic, such as acid rain, land use, or water quality. Students begin their study by examining the topic in the context of their local community and then exploring it within the larger national picture. Each unit involves the collection of some type of data (survey or measurement), sharing those data through a telecommunication network with other classes collecting the same data, and finally making sense of those data. These data are examined by both student colleagues and a unit scientist, a professional with expertise in the unit topic. The computer gives students a number of tools to help with the data collection and analysis: a word processor, a record-keeping data section, a graphing utility, a complete telecommunication package, and map software with data overlay. This software component of the project is both simple and powerful. The Kids Network is more, however, than powerful software; it is a careful weaving of classroom activities and software tools. The following outline of the acid-rain unit illustrates the connection that exists between these two components of the project. Students begin this unit by learning how to use pH paper and how to build a rain collector. With this knowledge and equipment, they record the pH reading for each rainfall for the next several weeks. While waiting for the rain, they continue to explore pH through experiments that look at the effect of solutions of different pH on the growth of seeds and on a variety of nonliving objects. They also keep a weekly log of odometer readings from
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188 HIGH-SCH~L BIOLOGY the family car and roughly calculate the amount of nitrogen oxide that they have introduced into the atmosphere as a family and as a class. Through letters, classes can share the findings from all these activities with others in the network These letters are sent, not to the thousands of schools in the network, but to their "cluster," a small group of 10-12 geographically dispersed classrooms. After several weeks, during which time one hopes there has been some rain, classes send their rain data to the network using the data-entry feature of the software. Those data are collected and sent back within a week. Students receive the network data, as well as a letter from the unit scientist. The data may come back as a data-entry form or as a map file with color-coded data from each site displayed. The letter from the unit scientist, in this case John Miller of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), helps students to put their data into the context of other data collected on acid rain. Next, students are asked to compare their readings with those of their fellow cluster classes and to examine patterns in the network data. Again, a flurry of letters to fellow scientists takes place, asking for clarification about surprises or validation of theories. The unit ends with a look at the social significance of the data. Students examine two very different positions on what to do with the information gathered. Each position, seemingly written by a student-colleague on the network, addresses the impact of decisions about acid rain-e.g., a loss of jobs for factory-working parents or serious reduction of fish in a local pond. Students are encouraged to discuss these positions, take a class vote for no action without further research or for both immediate action and further research, and send the results to the network. WHAT MIGHT THIS CURRICULUM DESIGN SUGGEST? The Kids Network has generated an enthusiastic response on the part of both teachers and students. As one teacher explained, it "is an awesome concept, a truly revolutionary idea for education at a time when it is so badly needed." We have completed the design of two units and have tested these preliminary materials in 200 classrooms across the United States and in a handful of foreign sites, including Canada, Argentina, Hong Kong, and Israel. Data from our formal evaluation, which included both observations and questionnaires, and the flood of unsolicited narratives received from teachers through phone calls and letters suggest that teachers and students found this curriculum to be a lively and appealing way to approach science. Despite the elementary focus of these materials, there are a number of ideas or issues that are applicable to the high-school curriculum. I propose these ideas in the form of questions. While all the questions represent ideas around which the Kids Network has been designed, they also provide a
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MESSING ABOUT IN SCIENCE 189 framework for examining aspects of this project that may provide new ideas for those interested in high-school biology curricula. After briefly noting examples of the ways in which our curriculum addresses each question, I will suggest areas of consideration that these questions raise for instructional materials. Can Data Collection and Analysis Provide an Effective Backbone Around Which to Study Science? Teachers and evaluators reported numerous examples of scientific thinking generated by the simple act of collecting and making sense of data. For example, in the "hello" unit, students were collecting data about the kinds of pets that each student cared for. Many classes found that defining their terms, in this case what constituted a pet, was quite compli- cated. In one class, the discussion revolved around a debate as to whether an ant farm should be considered a pet. The class finally decided that a pet had to share the same environment with its owner. Therefore, they decided that an ant farm was not a pet, as it was in a sealed container; but fish were pets, as they lived in water from a faucet. Although you may argue with their decisions, I think that you can see that the students did exhibit scientific thinking as they tried to resolve their question. Another example of the type of scientific understanding that data col- lection generated came from a fourth-grade class. These students realized that, although their data and those of their cluster school were both about pets, they could not compare data. One class had recorded the number of students who owned each kind of pet; the other had recorded the number of each kind of pet. The class learned a great deal about the importance of comparable data, a concept that many high-school students might find difficult. Can Inqu~ Based Instruction Help a Larger Proportion of Students to Feel Confident About Their Ability to Understand Science? This question was addressed in several ways. Many teachers reported that students were motivated and eager to participate in the curriculum activities, even, or perhaps especially, students who rarely participated in science class. One teacher told the story of a "low-ability" student who gained enormous credibility in class when he proposed his idea about the wide discrepancy between the over 120 pets owned by his Auburn, Maine, class and the fewer than 25 pets owned by a cluster class in New Orleans. While other students had explained the difference as something related to the weather or the availability of pets in Louisiana stores, this student thought that perhaps the school was located in an area surrounded by
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190 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY government housing. He explained that pets were not allowed in this type of housing. This simple piece of information from a fellow student, not the teacher or a textbook, helped students to make sense of the data and generated a letter to find out whether this student's theory was correct. As you might imagine, his idea also increased the student's credibility with his peers, his teacher, and perhaps himself. We received other reports of student self-esteem that are of a very dif- ferent nature. Teachers reported that students felt a real sense of ownership about their work. The most extreme examples came frown two teachers who reported that their classes, both filled with "average" and "below-average" students, protested on learning that their teacher was planning to present the Kids Network curriculum at professional conferences. The students argued that it was their work and that they should be the ones presenting. In one case, the teacher took the students with him; in the other, the students made an acetate filmstrip and accompanying audio tape that the teacher used in her presentation. Can Technology Enhance Inquiry in the Science Classroom? Bob Tinker (1988), the project's director, contends that "technology can bridge the gap between the conduct of science and the teaching of science." The Kids Network provides this bridge in several ways. First, by using microcomputers for computation, students are able to manipulate their findings in more sophisticated ways than their computational skills might have permitted otherwise. Second, with the power of telecommu- nication, students are able to share data and ideas with others from all over the country. This extension of the classroom provides a powerful motivation for many students. Lastly, telecommunication offers a unique and manageable opportunity for scientists to communicate with science classrooms. The technology expands these classrooms by eliminating the limitations of both time and distance that would otherwise restrict this type of communication. Can the Work of a Science Classroom Generate Community Interest? Kids Network classrooms were filled with visitors interested in the stu- dents' work. The list included principals, other teachers, superintendents, school-board members, parents, university professors and their students, and reporters from newspapers and television. These visitors were inter- ested in what the students were doing, in terms of both the telecommunica- tion activities with other schools and the data they were collecting. Adults were as interested in the data results as the students, particularly when the data were about a larger environmental concern, such as acid rain. This
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MESSING ABOUT IN SCIENCE 191 type of interest provided a motivation for both teachers and students, who appreciated having an audience for their work. Can the Work of a Science Classroom be of Interest to the Scientific Community? A portion of my work on the curriculum component of this project is to find experiments appropriate for elementary-school students and useful to research scientists. This search has been one of the most challenging and delightful aspects of my job. The scientific community has been both supportive and enthusiastic. Many scientists have given hours of their time exploring the types of research that students might do that would offer valuable data to existing studies. John Miller, the deputy director of the acid-deposition unit of NOAA and our unit scientist for the acid-rain unit, is an excellent example of the type of support and enthusiasm that we have found. Dr. Miller corre- sponded throughout the unit with his elementary-school "colleagues" and has proposed that the Kids Network data be included as an appendix to the NOAA 1988 report on acid rain. In addition, he regularly discussed this project with his colleagues around the world. Perhaps the most surprising example of the serious interest that scientists have in student-collected data took place at the annual meeting of a United Nations steering committee concerned with the long-range transmission of air pollutants. As the United States representative to this group, Dr. Miller presented an overview of the various networks in North America that are concerned with acid rain. Within this context, he introduced his colleagues to the Kids Network project and was surprised to find that they expressed considerable interest in this network, wanting to know how students made the measurements and whether the data would be available for comparison with NOAA data. We have found that this level of interest has not been unusual. Scientists are interested in student measurements, particularly when the data cover a wide geographic area. CONCLUSION The first reports about the effectiveness of the Kids Network indicate that it generates considerable enthusiasm in both students and teachers and enlivens the science classroom. In times filled with grim reports about science education, this curriculum has sparked considerable hope. Our experience with elementary-school students has shown that the approach has great promise to change students' perception of science and of their abilities in the subject. It offers them a collective opportunity for messing about in science.
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192 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY This same type of exploration is certainly possible for high-school classrooms and is worthy of further consideration. Instructional materials that center around the collection of data not only give students a more accurate picture of the scientific enterprise, but they also give students an opportunity to examine their personal ideas about the topic under study. In addition, if this type of investigation is linked to real environmental concerns, the students' work yields valuable community information and is not just an empty school assignment. Telecommunication is a new and exciting tool for the science class- room. It provides an easy way to connect the work of various classrooms and to help students to understand the larger scientific picture into which their experiments fit. One difficulty that many existing telecommunication networks report is that these connections die if there is no reason to com- municate (Carl Berger, University of Michigan, personal communication). Creating a network that revolves around the collection and analysis of data provides an important and engaging topic for conversation. While the telecommunication activities of the Kids Network curriculum are seemingly elaborate, classroom exchanges can be fairly simple and do not require either fancy software or equipment. All that is required is a worthwhile set of data to collect and an interest in sharing those data among classes as close together as the same town or as far apart as different coasts. Science teachers and curriculum developers may be surprised to discover the number of groups that would welcome this sort of low-cost data collection and would help with the necessary logistics. Finally, I would like to note that, while the technology of this curricu- lum suggests an exciting new resource for the classroom, the Kids Network suggests a very simple change for classrooms. This change, while enhanced by technology, does not require it. Messing about in science does not require fancy equipment, just an appreciation of the value in making sense of the many mysteries of life. Certainly that should be an important value for biology education. One high-school student involved in examining trees was pondering the difference between his biology class and his work in an inquiry-based study. "I don't know why we read about trees in science class. It seems stupid not to come outside and really study 'em. Don't ya think?" (Julyan, 1988~. I obviously agree, but hope that I have provoked the consideration of new possibilities that might exist in future high-school biology curricula. These possibilities could include materials that center around students collecting original data, students sharing those data with interested student colleagues, and teachers and scientists working together to help students to make sense of their findings. Materials that have these various foci would certainly differ from those in classrooms today~ifferences that might alter both biology education and perhaps biology itself. I am hopeful about the
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MESSING ~0= IN SCIENCE 193 future of biology education, particularly if it encompasses these simple ideas. I believe that students and teachers are ready for a change. REFERENCES Anderson, C. W., and E. L. Smith. 1983. Childrens' Conception of light and Color Developing the Concept of Unseen Rays. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Montreal. Bell, B. F., and A. Brook. 1984. Aspects of Secondary Students' Understanding of Plant Nutrition. Leeds, England: Center for Studies in Science and Mathematics Education, University of Leeds. Brook, As, and R. Driver. 1984. Aspects of Secondary Students' Understanding of Energy. Leeds, England: Center for Studies in Science and Mathematics Education, University of Leeds. Duckworth, E. 1986. Inventing Density. Grand Forks, N.D.: University of North Dakota Press. Duckworth, E., C. Julyan, and T. Rowe. 1985. A Study on Equilibrium: A Anal Report. Cambridge, Mass.: Educational Technology Center. Gunstone, R. F., and A. White. 1981. Understanding of gravity. Sci. Educ. 65~3~:291-299. Hawkins, D. 1978. Critical barriers to science learning. Outlook 29:3-23. Julyan, C. 1988. Understanding llees: Five Case Studies. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Harvard University. Osborne, R., and J. K. Gilbert. 1980. A method for investigation of concept understanding in science. Eur. J. Sci. Educ. 2:311-321. Smith, C. 1985. Student Conceptions of Heat and Temperature. Cambridge, Mass.: Educational Technology Center. Stead, K E., and R. Osborne. 1980. Exploring science students' concepts of light. Austral. Sci. Teach. J. 26~3~:51-57. Stead, K E., and R. Osborne. 1981. What is gravity? Some children's ideas. New Zealand Sci. Teach. 30:5-12. Tinker, R. F. 1988. Telecommunication and Science Education. Talk delivered at the AAAS conference, February 1988.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: