Janet Batzli, Betsy Desy, Tessa Andrews, Laurel Hartley, April Maskiewicz
We are advocating for teaching genetics, evolution, and ecology as fully integrated topics within real contexts in introductory biology courses. Most simply, we envision a course in which the students won’t know when we transition from talking about genetics to talking about evolution and to talking about ecology.
Our rationale for the integration of Eco/Evo/Gen in introductory biology courses:
Ecology is fundamentally the study of how organisms interact with each other and their environment; Evolution is the study of biological history and the mechanisms that influence biological change and diversification; genetics is the study of heredity and the variation of inherited characteristics. These disciplines are tightly integrated; genetic mechanisms acting in an ecological context drive evolution, and the way organisms interact is influenced by their evolutionary history. For example, recent studies have demonstrated that evolutionary processes influence ecology (see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100201171639.htm). Furthermore, recent advances in molecular genetic technology have much to contribute to our understanding of ecological and evolutionary processes.
Example activity/module: See Rock Pocket Mouse http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/color-variation-over-time-rock-pocket-mouse-populations
This activity is valuable because:a) context
integrates ecology/evolution/geneticsb) is data rich - researchers real data (DNA sequences, allele freq changes, ecological variables that affect freq changes).c) students have opportunities to reason and develop explanations
Weaknesses: Its only strong selection pressure.
1) Existing research on Teaching and Learning
References on Integrating Eco/Evo/Gen
- Dauer, J.T., Momsen, J.L., Bray Speth, E.B., Makohon-Moore, S.C., Long T. (2013). Analyzing Change in Students' Gene-to-Evolution Models in College-level
Introductory Biology. J. Res. Sci. Teaching 50(6): 639-659.
Relevant References for Evolution Education
- Hokayem, H., & BouJaoude, S. (2008). College students' perceptions of the theory of evolution. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 45(4), 395-419.
- Ingram, E. L., & Nelson, C. E. (2006). Relationship between achievement and students' acceptance of evolution or creation in an upper‐level evolution course. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 43(1), 7-24.
- Nieswandt, M., &
Bellomo, K. (2009). Written extended‐response questions as classroom
assessment tools for meaningful understanding of evolutionary theory. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(3), 333-356
- Smith, M. U. (2010). Current status of research in teaching and learning evolution: I. Philosophical/epistemological issues. Science & Education, 19(6-8), 523-538.
- Smith, M. U. (2010). Current status of research in teaching and learning evolution: II. Pedagogical issues. Science & Education, 19(6-8), 539-571.
References for Ecology Education
(1985). Misconceptions of selected ecological concepts held by some Nigerian students. Journal of
Biological Education, 19, 311-316.
Mohan, L., & Sharma, A. (2005). Developing a learning progression for carbon
cycling in environmental systems. Paper presented at the meeting of the
Ecological Society of America, Montreal,
Sheldon, T.S., & Dubay, J. (1990). The effects of instruction on college majors’ conceptions of
respiration and photosynthesis. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 27,
Griffiths, A.K., & Okebukola, P. A. (1995). High school students’ concepts
regarding food chains and food webs: A multinational study. International
Journal of Science Education 17, 775-782.
Bell, B. (1985).
Students' ideas about plant nutrition: What are they? Journal of Biological Education, 19
Brown, M., &
Schwartz, R. (2009). Connecting photosynthesis and cellular respiration:
Preservice teachers’ conceptions. Journal of Research in Science Teaching,
(2002a). Ecological understanding 1: Ways of experiencing photosynthesis. International
Journal of Science Education, 24 (7), 681-99.
(2002b). Ecological understanding 2: Transformation - a key to ecological
understanding. International Journal of Science Education, 24 (8),
Eilam, B. (2002).
Strata of comprehending ecology: Looking through the prism of feeding
relations. Science Education, 86 (5), 645-71.
& Basca, B.B. (2003). How does grasping the underlying causal structures of
ecosystems impact students’ understanding? Journal of Biological Education,
Hartley, L., Momsen, J., Maskiewicz, A. & D’Avanzo, C. (2012). Energy and matter: Differences in discourse in physical and biological sciences can be confusing for introductory biology students. BioScience, 62(5), 488-496.
(1995). Environmental education and pupils' conceptions of matter. Environmental
Education Research, 1 (3), 267-277.
Hogan, K. (2000).
Assessing students’ systems reasoning in ecology. Journal of Biological
Education, 35, 22-28.
Hogan, K. (2002).
Small groups' ecological reasoning while making an environmental management
decision. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39 (4), 341-368.
Hogan, K., &
Fisherkeller, J. (1996). Representing students’ thinking about nutrient cycling
in ecosystems: Bidimensional coding of a complex topic. Journal of Research
in Science Teaching, 33, 941-970.
Hogan, K. &
Thomas, D. (2001). Cognitive comparisons of students' systems modeling in ecology.
Journal of Science Education and Technology, 10(4), 319-345.
Driver, R., Scott, P., & Wood-Robinson, C. (1995). Children's ideas about
ecology: Theoretical background, design, and methodology. International
Journal of Science Education, 17 (6), 721-732.
Driver, R., Scott, P., & Wood-Robinson, C. (1996a). Children's ideas about
ecology 2: Ideas found in children aged 5-16 about the cycling of matter. International
Journal of Science Education, 18 (1), 19-34.
Driver, R., Scott, P., & Wood-Robinson, C. (1996b). Children's ideas about
ecology 3: Ideas found in children aged 5-16 about the interdependency of
organisms. International Journal of Science Education, 18 (2), 129-141.
Konicek, R., & Shapiro, B. (1992). The ideas used by British and North American school children to
interpret the phenomenon of decay: A cross-cultural study. Paper presented
at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA.
Lin, C., &
Hu, R. (2003). Students’ understanding of energy flow and matter cycling in the
context of the food chain, photosynthesis, and respiration. International
Journal of Science Education, 25, 1529-1544.
Maskiewicz, A., Griscom, H. & Welch, N. (2012). Using targeted active-learning exercises and diagnostic question clusters to improve students’ understanding of carbon cycling in ecosystems. Life Sciences Education; CBE,11, 58-67.
Mohan, L, Chen,
J, & Anderson. (2008). Developing a multi-year learning progression for
carbon cycling in socio-ecological systems.
Journal of Research in Science
Teaching, 46(6), 675-698.
(1994). Ecological misconceptions. Journal of Environmental Education, 25
Reiner, M., &
Eilam, B. (2001). Conceptual classroom environment--A system view of learning. International
Journal of Science Education, 23 (6), 551-568.
Webb, P., &
Boltt, G. (1990). Food chain to food web: A natural progression. Journal of
Biological Education 24 (3), 187-190.
(1997). Naïve ecology: Causal judgments about a simple ecosystem. British
Journal of Psychology, 88, 219-233.
& Resnick, M. (1999). Thinking in levels: A dynamic systems approach to
making sense of the world. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 8
Wilensky, U., & Reisman, K. (2006). Thinking like a wolf, a sheep, or a firefly: Learning biology through constructing and testing computational theories—an embodied modeling approach. Cognition and instruction, 24(2), 171-209.
Anderson, C., Heidemann, M., Merrill, J., Merritt, B., Richmond, G., Sibley,
F., & Parker, J. (2006). Assessing students’ ability to trace matter in
dynamic systems in cell biology.
2) Classroom Strategies and Resources (e.g. Activities, problem sets, modules).
Evolution in General
Evo - Specific topics
Phylogenetic trees and macroevolution
- Catley, K. M., & Novick, L. R. (2009). Digging deep: Exploring college students' knowledge of macroevolutionary time. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(3), 311-332.
- Alters, B. J., & Nelson, C. E. (2002). Perspective: Teaching evolution in higher education. Evolution, 56(10), 1891-1901.
- Catley, K. M., Novick, L. R., & Shade, C. K. (2010). Interpreting evolutionary diagrams: When topology and process conflict. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(7), 861-882.
- Long, Tammy. Tobacco Plant Evolution. https://www.msu.edu/course/isb/202/tsao/homepage/TeachUnit_TobaccoExercise.pdf
Andrews, T.M., Price, R.M., Mead, L.S., McElhinny, T.L., Thanukos, A., Perez, K.E., Herreid, C.F., Terry, D.R., Lemons, P.P. (2012) Biology undergraduate’s misconceptions about genetic drift. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 11(3), 248-259. doi:10.1187/cbe.11-12-0107
2b) Assessment tools for genetics, evolution:
Diagnostic Test (6,
open‐ended). Bishop, BA and CW Anderson. 1990.
Student conceptions of natural selection and its role in evolution. Journal of
Research in Science Teaching 27:415‐427.
Inventory of Natural Selection (CINS, 20 questions, Multiple‐choice). Anderson D, Fisher KM, Norman JG.
2002. Development and evaluation of the Conceptual Inventory of Natural
Selection. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 19: 952‐978.
of Evolution Exam (KEE,
10, MC). Cotner S, Brooks DC, Moore R (2010).
Is the age of the earth one of our "sorest troubles?" Students'
perceptions about deep time affect their acceptance of evolutionary theory.
Evolution 64, 858‐864.
Descent Inventory (13
Questions, Multiple‐true/false, ordering). Abraham, J.K., K. E. Perez, J. C.
Herron, N. Downey, E. Meir. 2012. Undergraduate student alternate conceptions
and acceptance of evolutionary theory before and after a short computer‐based
lesson plan. Cell Biology Education: Life Sciences Education 11: 152‐164.
Drift Concept Inventory (GeDI, 22, true‐false). Price, R.M., T.M. Andrews, T.L.
McElhinny, L.S. Mead, J.K. Abraham, A. Thanukos, K.E. Perez. Introducing the
Genetic Drift Inventory: a measure of what undergraduates have mastered about
genetic drift. In review.
Concept Inventory (EvoDevoCI,
11, MC). Perez, K.E., Hiatt, A., G.K. Davis,
C. Trujillo, M. Terry, D.P. French, R.M. Price. The EvoDevoCI: A concept
inventory for gauging students’ understanding of evolutionary developmental
biology. In press, CBE:LSE.
10, MC, Advanced: 10, MC). The Tree‐Thinking Challenge. Baum,
Smith, Donovan Science 310, 979 (2005).
Selection Inventory (6,
open‐ended). Nehm RH, Reilly L (2007). Biology
majors' knowledge and misconceptions of natural selection. Bioscience 57, 263‐272.
of understanding of macroevolution (Mum,
28, 27 MC, 1 open‐ended). Nadelson LS, Southerland SA (2010).
Development and preliminary evaluation of the measure of understanding of
macroevolution: Introducing the MUM. J Exp Educ 78, 151‐190.
test of Evolutionary Reasoning (CTER,
26 MC, two‐tiered, secondary ed teachers). Palko, P. 2009. The state of high
school biology teachers’ understanding of evolution. Reports of the National
Center for Science Education 29:37‐38.
Concept Assessment (GCA,
25, MC). Smith MK, Wood WB, Knight JK. 2008.
The genetics concept assessment: A new concept inventory for gauging student
understanding of genetics. The American Society for Cell Biology 7: 422‐430.
Literacy Assessment Instrument 2 (GLAI‐2, 31, MC). Bowling BV, Acra EE, Wang L, Myers
MF, Dean GE, Markle GC, Moskalik CL, Huether CA. 2008. Innovations in teaching
and learning genetics: Development and evaluation of a genetics literacy
assessment instrument for undergraduates. Genetics 178:15‐22.
Literacy (13, MC,
2‐tiered). Tsui CY, Treagust D. 2009.
Evaluating Secondary Students’ Scientific Reasoning in Genetics Using a
Two‐Tier Diagnostic Instrument. International Journal of Science Education,
2009, 1‐26, iFirst Article.
of Acceptance of Evolution (MATE,
20, Likert). Rutledge ML, Warden MA (1999). The
development and validation of the measure of acceptance of the theory of
evolution instrument. Sch Sci Math 99, 13‐18.
Acceptance and Literacy Survey (EALS:
104, Likert; EALS Short Form: 62, Likert).
Hawley, PH., Short, SD., McCune,
LA., Osman, MR., Little, TD. 2011. What’s the matter with Kansas?: The
development and confirmation of the evolutionary attitudes and literacy survey
(EALS). Evo Ed Outreach. 4:117‐132.
Short, SD., Hawley, PH. 2012.
Evolutionary attitudes and literacy survey (EALS): Development and validation
of a short form. Evo Ed Outreach.
3) Gaps in (a) Research and (b) Resources (a long narrative or a bulleted list is fine)
4) Ideas for New Collaborations or Ways to Scale/Extend On-going Research
April and Betsy would like to work on a model unit related to crickets, sound, and sex.
All - would like to articulate the value of integrating teaching of ecology, evolution, and genetics in intro biology. We would like to explore student thinking related to the subparts (where are the three topics linked, e.g. allele) and how to integrate them. We want to articulate the consequences of problematic thinking and inability to integrate.
Hypotheses that could be tested based on this assumption that integrating these domains of biology is important:
Students who understand genetics concepts, such as allele, will more successfully construct knowledge of evolution.