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Does teachers’ classroom talk in genetics lessons clarify or confuse?: Investigating semantic relations between the words gene, DNA and chromosome
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013). (SMEER)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9629-0951
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013). (SMEER)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8735-2102
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Biology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-67124OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-67124DiVA, id: diva2:1200550
Available from: 2018-04-24 Created: 2018-04-24 Last updated: 2018-06-04
In thesis
1. Linguistic Challenges in Science Education: A Classroom Study of Teachers’ and Students’ use of Central Concepts in Genetics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Linguistic Challenges in Science Education: A Classroom Study of Teachers’ and Students’ use of Central Concepts in Genetics
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines linguistic aspects of genetics education and is based on the view that language is an essential dimension of teaching and learning. Its objective is to clarify how teachers and students use genetics concepts in real teaching situations. By studying the spoken language used in lessons, I explore how teachers present the subject and the opportunities students have to learn to use the specific language of genetics. These explorations help explain why genetics is such a challenging topic to teach and learn, as shown by previous studies. My study is based on observations and recordings of genetics lessons for grade nine students, i.e. students in the final year of compulsory education in the Swedish school system. Four classes were followed as they progressed through the genetics unit. The corpus was analyzed with different linguistic methods to reveal patterns in the way teachers use and interrelate core concepts such as gene, DNA and chromosome, how they connect the concepts of gene and trait, and how students are involved in dialogue about core genetics concepts. Teachers were found to use genetics concepts with varying meanings and interrelated words in many different ways, resulting in an ambiguous and inconsistent communication of the genetics content in the classroom. The students used the genetics concepts much less frequently than the teachers, and mainly used them in short sentences. This suggests that current teaching practices do not give students enough opportunities to develop the language of genetics. My results demonstrate several aspects of classroom talk that could contribute to the learning difficulties associated with genetics. It will be important to take these aspects into account when seeking to improve the teaching of this subject.

Abstract [en]

This thesis centers on linguistic aspects of genetics education. The aim is to contribute to the understanding of how teachers present genetics content in the classroom and what opportunities students have to learn to use the specific language of genetics. It may also provide insights into why genetics is such a challenging topic to teach and learn. The study is based on observations and recordings of genetics lessons in the final year of compulsory education. A corpus of 45 genetics lessons was analyzed with different analytical lenses to reveal how teachers and student use core concepts. Findings show that the teachers used genetics concepts with varying meanings and interrelated words in many different ways, which results in an ambivalent and inconsistent communication of genetics content in the classroom. The students use central genetics concepts to a much lesser degree than do the teachers and mainly in short sentences which indicates that the students are not given the opportunities to develop the language of genetics. The results show several aspects of classroom talk that might contribute to the learning difficulties that previously have been reported in the genetic education literature. These are important to consider in future efforts to improve genetics teaching.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2018
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2018:22
Keywords
Classroom study; Classroom talk; Genetics education; Genetics concepts; Scientific language;Secondary school; Systemic Functional Linguistics; Thematic pattern analysis
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-67141 (URN)978-91-7063-855-8 (ISBN)978-91-7063-950-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-06-08, 11D121, Karlstads universitet, Karlstad, 13:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-05-17 Created: 2018-04-24 Last updated: 2018-06-04Bibliographically approved

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Thörne, KarinGericke, Niklas

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