Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Curriculum and Instruction
Michael P. Clough
Joanne K. Olson
This study investigated the use of five historically accurate short stories in a post-secondary introductory biology course. The stories were designed to include both high levels of science content as well as explicitly attend students to nature of science ideas through bulleted points and reflective questions embedded within the stories. The stories targeted fundamental science ideas including: age of the earth, biological evolution, and genetics.
Through mostly qualitative methods, student and instructor use and views of the short stories were investigated. That is, this study investigated 1) how the stories were implemented in a post-secondary biology course, 2) instructor views of the stories, 3) student views of the stories, and 4) how students interpreted the stories. Data sources included course observations and artifacts, student homework, student questionnaires, and instructor interviews. Data was analyzed to produce substantive categories or rich descriptions.
Findings from the study are used to support several conclusions. First, most students are able to accurately interpret historical short stories that are designed to explicitly draw students' attention to nature of science (NOS) ideas. Second, use of the historical short stories increases students' reported interest in science careers. Third, the nuanced and contextual nature of NOS poses significant problems for student understanding of NOS in light of students' inaccurate conceptual frameworks. Finally, instructor use of the historical short stories is highly linked to the instructor's perceived value of the short stories and NOS more generally.
These findings have implications for science educators and curriculum designers. Design of historical materials must take an explicit/reflective approach to NOS inclusion. Furthermore, curricular materials need to somehow address students' prior thinking before introducing contextual episodes. Additionally, historical curricular materials ought be included in science content course to stimulate and retain student interest in science. However, effort must be turned toward helping science content teachers understand the benefit of including history and nature of science in their courses.
Jerrid Wayne Kruse
Kruse, Jerrid Wayne, "Historical short stories in the post-secondary biology classroom: Investigation of instructor and student use and views" (2010). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 11818.