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  • 1.
    Thörne, Karin
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013).
    Linguistic Challenges in Science Education: A Classroom Study of Teachers’ and Students’ use of Central Concepts in Genetics2018Doctoral 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.

  • 2.
    Thörne, Karin
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Biology.
    Teaching genetics - a linguistic challenge: A classroom study of secondary teachers' talk about genes, traits and proteins2012Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The overall aim of this thesis is to investigate how teachers talk about genetics in actual classroom situations. An understanding of how language is used in action can give detailed information about how the subject matter is presented to the students as well as insights in linguistic challenges. From the viewpoint of seeing language to be at the very core of teaching and learning, this study investigates teachers’ spoken language in the classroom in topics within genetics that are known to be both crucial and problematic. Four lower secondary school teachers in compulsory school grade 9 (15-16 years old) were observed and recorded through a whole sequence of genetic teaching. The empirical data consisted of 45 recorded lessons. The teachers’ verbal communication was analyzed using thematic pattern analysis, which is based on the framework of systemic functional linguistics (SFL). The focus of the thesis is to determine how teachers talk about the relationships between the concepts of gene, protein and trait, i.e. the functional aspects of genetics. Prior research suggests that this is a central aspect of genetics education, but at the same time it is problematic for students to understand because the concepts belong to different organizational levels. In the first study I investigated how the concepts of gene and trait were related in the context of Mendelian genetics. My results revealed that the teachers’ way of talking resulted in different meanings regarding the relationship between gene and trait: 1) the gene as an active entity causing the trait 2) the gene as a passive entity identified by the trait 3) the gene as having the trait, and 4) the gene as being the trait. Moreover it was found that the old term anlag was regularly used by the teachers as synonym for both gene and trait. In the second study I examined how teachers included proteins in their lessons, and if and how they discussed proteins as a link between different organizational levels. This study showed that teachers commonly did not emphasize the many functions of proteins in our body. The main message of all teachers was that proteins are built. Two of the teachers used proteins as a link between gene and trait, whereas two of them did not. None of the teachers talked explicitly about genes as exclusively coding for proteins, which implies that the gene codes for both proteins and traits. The linguistic analysis of teachers’ talk in action revealed that small nuances in language used by the teachers resulted in different meanings of the spoken language. Thus, my work identifies several linguistic challenges in the teaching of genetics.

  • 3.
    Thörne, Karin
    et al.
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013).
    Gericke, Niklas
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013).
    Does teachers’ classroom talk in genetics lessons clarify or confuse?: Investigating semantic relations between the words gene, DNA and chromosomeManuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
  • 4.
    Thörne, Karin
    et al.
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013).
    Gericke, Niklas
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013).
    Genetic determinism in teachers’ talk in secondary science classroom2015Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 5.
    Thörne, Karin
    et al.
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013).
    Gericke, Niklas
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013).
    How secondary teachers verbally relate the words gene, DNA and chromosome when teaching genetics2014Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 6.
    Thörne, Karin
    et al.
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences.
    Gericke, Niklas
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences.
    Secondary teachers’talk about proteins during genetic lessons2013Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 7.
    Thörne, Karin
    et al.
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Biology.
    Gericke, Niklas
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Biology.
    Teachers talk in the classroom: Connecting geneswith traits2012Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 8.
    Thörne, Karin
    et al.
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013).
    Gericke, Niklas
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013).
    Teacher-student dialogue in the classroom: does it support students in learning the language of genetics?Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
  • 9.
    Thörne, Karin
    et al.
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences.
    Gericke, Niklas
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences.
    Teaching genetics in secondary classrooms: a linguistic analysis of teachers’ talk about proteins2014In: Research in science education, ISSN 0157-244X, E-ISSN 1573-1898, Vol. 44, no 1, p. 81-108Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study investigates Swedish biology teachers’ inclusion of proteins when teaching genetics in grade nine (students 15-16 years old). For some years there has been a call for the attention of proteins in teaching genetics as a mean of linking the concepts gene and trait. Students are known to have problems with this relation because the concepts belong to different organizational levels. However, we know little about how the topic is taught in the classroom and therefore this case study focus on how four teachers talk about proteins while teaching genetics, and if they use protein as a link between micro and macro level. The four teachers were observed and audio recorded during entire genetics teaching sequences, 45 lessons in total. The teachers’ verbal communication was then analyzed using thematic pattern analysis, which is based in systemic functional linguistics (SFL). The linguistic analysis of teachers’ talk in action revealed great variations in both the extent to which they used proteins in explanations of genetics and the ways they included proteins in the linkage between genes and traits. Two of the teachers used protein as a link between gene and trait, while two did not. Three of the four teachers included instruction about protein synthesis. The common message for all teachers was that proteins are built, but none of the teachers talked about genes as exclusively encoding proteins. Our results show some possible examples of how proteins could be used in teaching genetics at this age level. However, they also suggest that students’ common lack of understanding of proteins as an intermediate link between gene and trait could be explained by shortcomings in the way the subject is taught.

  • 10.
    Thörne, Karin
    et al.
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences.
    Gericke, Niklas
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences.
    Hagberg, Mariana
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences.
    Linguistic challenges in Mendelian genetics: teachers' talk in action2013In: Science Education, ISSN 0036-8326, E-ISSN 1098-237X, Vol. 97, no 5, p. 695-722Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study investigates Swedish teachers’ use of language when teaching genetics in grade nine (students 15-16 years old). Mendelian genetics comprises a substantial part of the genetics taught in many classrooms, including the central relation between the gene and trait concepts. This relation has been identified as a significant problem in teaching and learning genetics, but few satisfactory explanations of its difficulty have been suggested. Thus, the primary objective of the study is to reveal how teachers explain and relate gene and trait (i.e. gene function) while teaching Mendelian genetics, in order to shed light on this problem. Four teachers were observed and recorded through a whole sequence of genetic teaching. The empirical data consist of records of their communications during 45 lessons. Their verbal communications were analyzed using a linguistic framework called thematic pattern analysis. The linguistic analysis of teachers’ talk in action revealed that nuances in their spoken language conveyed four major categories of meanings regarding the gene-to-trait relationship: genes control traits, are identified by traits, have traits or are traits.  The results also reveal a common use of an old word, anlag (from the German word Anlage), in the teachers’ references to the meaning of both gene and trait. This study thus highlights several linguistic challenges in the teaching of Mendelian genetics that might affect students’ learning. Moreover, the study exemplifies how a linguistics methodology can be used to investigate science teaching, an approach heavily called for, but rarely used in published empirical studies.

  • 11.
    Thörne, Karin
    et al.
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013).
    Gericke, Niklas
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013).
    Mc Ewen, Birgitta
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Health Sciences (from 2013).
    Learning epigenetic mechanisms with analogies2019Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 12.
    Thörne, Karin
    et al.
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Biology.
    Hagberg, Mariana
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Biology.
    Gericke, Niklas
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Biology.
    Learning genetics in school through communication and drama2009Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This study investigates if and how learning genetics can be promoted with a high degree of communication and the use of drama. Discussions and dialogue is one form of communication, drama could be seen as another. Research has previously shown that drama can be used as a tool to learn genetics. In this case study, a group of sixteen 9th graders in a Swedish lower secondary school were followed through a teaching sequence. The teaching sequence was based on a high degree of communication in the form of dialogues and discussions and on drama in the form of role play and visualization. Semi-structured interviews, audio recorded discussions and vide taped role-plays were used to explore the learning progression. The pupils were found to develop knowledge due to dialogue and discussions in the form of pupil-teacher interactions, but not pupil-pupil interactions. Drama as a tool to visualize biological processes was found to be useful for pupils understanding. Furthermore, the participants learned about genetics in preparation for a role play, but they did not develop new understanding in the moment of playing. Overall, the use of communication and drama in teaching genetics can promote pupils learning.

  • 13.
    Thörne, Karin
    et al.
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Biology.
    Hagberg, Mariana
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Biology.
    Gericke, Niklas
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Biology.
    Teachers’ talk aboutgenetics: how do they explain the central concepts and make connections betweenthe micro- and macro-levels?2010Conference paper (Refereed)
1 - 13 of 13
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  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
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