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Teaching the living cell topic as a longitudinal axis in junior- high schools: examining experienced teachers' PCK Rachel Cohen and Anat Yarden Department.

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Presentation on theme: "Teaching the living cell topic as a longitudinal axis in junior- high schools: examining experienced teachers' PCK Rachel Cohen and Anat Yarden Department."— Presentation transcript:

1 Teaching the living cell topic as a longitudinal axis in junior- high schools: examining experienced teachers' PCK Rachel Cohen and Anat Yarden Department of Science Teaching Weizmann Institute of Science Rehovot, Israel

2 Theoretical background Numerous students' misconceptions and comprehension difficulties with regards to the living cell were identified (Flores et al., 2003; Dreyfus & Jungwirth1989, 1988,, 1990) Students have difficulties to relate biological phenomena at the macro-level to their cellular explanations (Verhoeff, 2003; Knipples, 2002; Marbach-Ad & Stavy, 2000(

3 Teaching The Cell topic The Cell is an obligatory topic at the junior high school level (NRC, 1996; AAAS, 1993; Israeli Ministry of Education, 1996) Content appearing under The Cell is to be studied “longitudinally” in conjunction with other study content (Israeli Ministry of Education, 1996)

4 “The Change” A change in the grades: 7 th -9 th grades instead of 9 th grade A change in the status: obligatory instead of elective A change in the allocated teaching time: no time instead of 30 hours A change in the context: integrated instead of independent

5 Teachers’ role in implementing “Change” Teachers’ knowledge and beliefs are important resources and constrains in every change (VanDriel et al., 2001) A change requires development of appropriate teachers’ “knowledge base for teaching”, PCK

6 Components of PCK for science teaching (Magnusson, Krajcik and Borko, 1999) 1.Orientations toward teaching science 2.Knowledge and beliefs about science curriculum 3.Knowledge and beliefs about students’ understanding of specific science topics 4.Knowledge and beliefs about assessment in science 5.Knowledge and beliefs about instructional strategies for teaching science

7 Research question What is junior high school science and technology teachers’ PCK with regards to The Cell topic?

8 Significance May shed some light on the sources of students’ difficulties to comprehend The Cell topic May serve to promote the success of the syllabus innovation to teach The Cell topic longitudinally May enable to improve future teaching and learning of The Cell

9 Methodology Qualitative and quantitative data collected from: -Three teachers’ focus groups* (n=59) -A teachers’ summer workshop* (n=12) -Teachers’ interviews** (n=6) * 2-24 years teaching experience ** >20 years teaching experience, participated in long-term (3 yrs) PDs

10 Methodology (II) Data was collected from: -Teachers’ questionnaires (quantitative) -Scripts of audio-tapes of all focus groups, workshop sessions and interviews (qualitative) Tools used during qualitative data collection: 1.Students’ answers to questions

11 Examples of students’ answers Question: How can you explain the fact that a plant dried out at a hot and dry day? Macro-level answer: Plants need fertile ground and appropriate weather to survive. Plants dry out without water. Once the heat level exceeds the amount of water the plant gets, it will fade Micro-level answer: The plant cells can not survive without water. The cell vacuole will loose water to the inter-cellular environment and therefore the pressure on the cell wall will be reduced. The plant cell has a vacuole which presses the cell wall. This pressure is reduced when there is no water supply and then the plant fade

12 Tools used during qualitative data collection (cont.): 2. Classification of a pool of assessment questions to the suitable grade level 3. Which of the following illustration is suitable to your understanding of the syllabus guideline “The Cell is to be studied ‘longitudinally’ in conjunction with other study content?” Methodology (III)

13 –25 רחל כהן. ה D E F.. Water Supply Cell Reproduction C Water Supply Reproduction Cell A B Reproduction Cell Reproduction Water Supply Reproduction Water Supply Reproduction Water Supply Reproduction Water Supply Which of the following illustrations is suitable to your understanding of the syllabus guideline “The Cell is to be studied ‘longitudinally’ in conjunction with other study content?”

14 Results: Orientations toward teaching The Cell topic All the teachers stated that The Cell is an important biological topic, that should be an obligatory topic at 7 th -9 th grades “it is important to teach the cell topic because many basic things stem from it…“ The teachers have ambivalent feelings with regards to The Cell topic (important but difficult to comprehend)

15 Results: Orientations toward teaching The Cell topic (II) “one has to be very skilful in order to teach it, this might be the reason for my fear about the cell topic, since I know what can happen, everything should be given in small portions…” The teachers reported on teaching cell structure at grades 7 th -8 th, and the functional aspects of cells and related macro- and micro-levels at 9 th grade

16 Results: Knowledge and beliefs about The Cell topic resources The teachers' are not aware to all the goals of the syllabus “It is spiral, which means, everything I believe is needed on the 7 th grade, bigger on 8 th grade and even bigger on 9 th grade” When looking at the pool of assessment questions Teacher 1: “When do we teach them this topic [The Cell theory]” Teacher 2: “During 9 th grade…”

17 Results: Knowledge and beliefs about The Cell topic resources The teachers' are not aware to the new learning materials about The Cell topic, for example: -An introductory unit for 7 th grade: A Journey into the Living Cell -A Computerized Learning Environment for 7 th -9 th grades: A Close Look at the Living Cell -Learning Activities for Teaching the Living Cell Topic as a Longitudinal Axis: To the Cell and Back The teachers reported using learning materials they developed themselves or materials they used before the publication of the syllabus

18 The main screen of the computerized environment : “A close look at the living cell”, from which the users navigate to the six main topics or activities

19 Results: Knowledge and beliefs about students’ understanding of The Cell topic The teachers recognize students' difficulties in comprehending the living cell topic from their experience in class and they consider the topic as abstract for their students "They can not comprehend… most of the cells are invisible… it is very abstract… they put the cells under the microscope and it is difficult to understand... and connect it to the reality…."

20 Results: Knowledge and beliefs about students’ understanding of The Cell topic (II) The teachers recognize students' difficulties that were previously reported, i.e.: -To comprehend cell size and biological hierarchy -To comprehend that cells are 3Ds -To comprehend cellular processes (“Some cells carry small lungs”)

21 Results: Knowledge and beliefs about students’ assessment of The Cell topic Using tests brought by the teachers: The majority of the teachers' tests are aimed to assess students’ knowledge of cell structure. Little attention is given to the relationships between the macro- and the micro–levels. Most tests are aimed to 9 th grade and very few to 7 th - 8 th grades. Most tests focus on factual questions. Using the national evaluation test (Meitzav): Teachers recalled macro-micro questions in Chemistry but not in Biology

22 Results: Knowledge and beliefs about students’ assessment of The Cell topic (II) Using teachers’ assessment of students’ answers: initially teachers gave the highest scores to the macro-level answer and changed their evaluation when they were exposed to the micro-level answer Classification of a pool of new questions: Most questions were classified as suitable for 9 th graders

23 Results: Knowledge and beliefs about instructional strategies of The Cell topic Teachers mainly focus on making the topic concert, by using models, films, etc. Teachers give little attention to relate macro- and micro-levels in Biology, in contrast to such relations in Chemistry. “…we are expecting that students will explain things with particles. Student that won't explain it [smell dissemination] didn't fulfill his obligation… I am not getting to the cellular processes, certainly not.” Teachers do not relate The Cell topic to other biological topics. Thus, the reform in teaching and learning about The Cell topic that was set in the syllabus, is not aligned with the teachers PCK.

24 Why the same teachers form micro- macro relations in Chemistry and not in Biology? Teachers expect a 7 th grade student to be able to explain phenomena using particles “We have also phenomena in Chemistry… In that part we explain every phenomena.” “In Biology less, much less. I don’t reach the cellular level, really not.” “There is a decline in the teaching level when we pass from one topic to another (from Chemistry to Biology).”

25 Why the same teachers form micro- macro relations in Chemistry and not in Biology? Teachers do not know how to form such relations in Biology Teachers are still influenced by previous guidelines and books. They did not go through a change yet. “We, the teachers, teach better what appears in the school books than what does not appear. Here we are required to do more than that” “It is necessary to go through the Meizav. I don’t think that there are questions about the macro-micro levels about the cell topic.” “The cell is very colored for 9 th grade. When we bring it to 7 th and 8 th grades it is a constrain, since following that we will have to use it and mention it all along.”

26 Discussion Teachers experience conflicts between their personal beliefs about the importance of The Cell topic and their practice Teachers went through a surface change and modified their practice in a tinkering manner Israeli Science and Technology junior-high school teachers’ PCK do not support the required change in the teaching and learning of The Cell topic

27 Discussion (II) Internal factors influencing teachers’ PCK: -The teachers’ PD: they learned the topic as an independent topic themselves -The teachers’ lack of awareness with the syllabus -The teachers’ practical experience in teaching the topic -The teachers’ fear from students’ inability to comprehend the topic

28 Discussion (III) External factors influencing teachers’ PCK: -The syllabus guideline “The Cell is to be studied ‘longitudinally’ in conjunction with other study content” is not clear -The national evaluation, Metizav, does not include questions that are in line with the above guideline

29 Practical application of the findings in teachers’ PD JH S&T teachers’ PD: -56 hrs -along the academic year -50% Druze -School teams from various schools in the North -All teachers teach The Cell topic in their classes in parallel to the course

30 Practical application of the findings in teachers’ PD PD components vs. PCK: Orientations -Focus on teaching The Cell in 7 th and 8 th grades -Teachers share their practical experiences during every meeting -Eliciting interest with current news briefs that involve knowledge about The Cell

31 Practical application of the findings in teachers’ PD PD components vs. PCK: Resources -Expose to all available learning materials on The Cell topic -Look in the learning materials for micro- macro relations -Discuss the objectives of teaching and learning about The Cell longitudinally

32 Practical application of the findings in teachers’ PD PD components vs. PCK: Students’ understanding Expose published students’ difficulties -Numerous assessment questions used for developing a students’ questionnaire by the teachers -The students’ questionnaires given by the teachers to their students -Teachers interviewed their students

33 Practical application of the findings in teachers’ PD PD components vs. PCK: Assessment -Activities and games developed in the course and used for assessing students PD components vs. PCK: Instructional strategies -During every meeting each teacher told what he/she did in their own class -Discussions on instructional strategies for 7 th grade

34 Acknowledgments Gilat Brill Ayelet Baram-Tsabari Hadas Gelbart Hedda Falk Hagit Yarden Michal Stolarsky Dickla Elbaz Dan Michael Moriah Sharon Rachel Cohen

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