Presentation on theme: "Visual Cognition in Undergraduate Biology Labs; Can it be Connected to Conceptual Change and Other Learning Theories? Robert Day The Ohio State University."— Presentation transcript:
Visual Cognition in Undergraduate Biology Labs; Can it be Connected to Conceptual Change and Other Learning Theories? Robert Day The Ohio State University College of Education firstname.lastname@example.org
"I passed all the other courses that I took at my university, but I could never pass botany. This was because all botany students had to spend several hours a week in a laboratory looking through a microscope at plant cells, and I could never see through the microscope. I never once saw a cell through a microscope. "My Life and Hard Times" James Thurber, former student of the OSU Plant Science Department.
Some visual processing problems Visual agnosia (Oliver Sacks) Pareidolia Perceptual scotoma Ambiguous images and perceptual flip
Pareidolia links Definition and earliest citation Some examples More examples Fossil on the moon?
Dissertation Objectives Document the visual difficulties that can be a barrier to learning in undergraduate biology students. Find out what students see, what they think they see, how they go about making sense of their observations and why they sometimes cant see anything at all. Try to connect the phenomenon to established learning theory. Suggest teaching and learning strategies that will help to efficiently transform novice biological observers into experts.
Possible Influencing Factors Eyesight (resolution / acuity) Language and semantics Direct and indirect content knowledge Innate visual cognitive abilities Multiple intelligences (Gardener) Learning style Teaching approach (constructivist, behaviorist etc)
Possible Influencing Factors (2) Socio-cultural factors Gender, biological / social Motivation Lifestyle and previous visual environment Neurological issues Metacognition Other factors
What is conceptual change? For review of Posners (1982) model go here. For review of Posners (1982) model go here. What is a concept?
For psychologists / philosophers, a concept is how the human mind constructs a category.
Classical category: E.g. even numbers > divisible by 2 Defined by rule(s) that are entirely necessary and sufficient for membership Family resemblance category E.g. chair Not easily defined by rules
Problem with F.R category: No necessary and sufficient conditions Infinite way they could be organized Especially problematic for biologists because of nested, indistinct hierarchy. Fallacy of dichotomous keys.
Do conceptual change educators use the word concept in the same way as philosophers and psychologists? Probably not. Suspect educators are talking about webs of concepts connected by relationships and processes > schemas or conceptual ecology
According to Posner et. al. conceptual schemas change by accommodation or assimilation Assimilation: This occurs when you fit some new information into an existing structure or conceptual understanding. Accommodation: This occurs new information cannot easily be fit into an existing structure or conceptual understanding. Instead, the new information requires a transformation and reorganization of the conceptual ecology.
Is perceptual flip the same as Posners conceptual change? Probably not exactly……but…… Perceptual change is similar and it often leads to conceptual change.
Example 1 seal donkey in ocean moving, swimming? splashing making a noise (bark?) therefore alive? seals bark & swim seals live in ocean
Seal donkey anomalies: Not swimming gracefully Appears to rising out of water > illogical Noise not like a seal Rear fins out of water – illogical Eyes seem to be releasing steam Fins dont look right
Post perceptual flip seal >donkey fins > ears > must be concave not flat swimming > drowning barking > braying natural event > unusual happy animal > animal in distress no further action necessary > action may be required to save drowning donkey
Interesting things to note…. Many optical illusions involve images of living things. Cognitive scientists often describe perceptual categorization problems involving living things. A special part of the brain is implicated in the process of recognizing living things.
And yet….. Biological science educators appear not to have studied the pedagogic implications of the unique cognitive challenges found only in their discipline?
Rationale for this Research Alert biology instructors to the problem Increase student performance and practical skills Alert biological researchers and medical imagers to issues related to reliability of graphical data Expedite postgraduate novice-expert transformation Integration of neurology and psychology with educational science Expand conceptual change theory Implications for societal scientific literacy and environmental awareness