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28-04-2016 | Issue 4/2016

Journal of Science Teacher Education 4/2016

Enhancing Elementary Pre-service Teachers’ Plant Processes Conceptions

Journal:
Journal of Science Teacher Education > Issue 4/2016
Authors:
Stephen L. Thompson, Christine Lotter, Xumei Fann, Laurie Taylor

Abstract

Researchers examined how an inquiry-based instructional treatment emphasizing interrelated plant processes influenced 210 elementary pre-service teachers’ (PTs) conceptions of three plant processes, photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and transpiration, and the interrelated nature of these processes. The instructional treatment required PTs to predict the fate of a healthy plant in a sealed terrarium (Plant-in-a-Jar), justify their predictions, observe the plant over a 5-week period, and complete guided inquiry activities centered on one of the targeted plant processes each week. Data sources included PTs’ pre- and post-predictions with accompanying justifications, course artifacts such as weekly terrarium observations and science journal entries, and group models of the interrelated plant processes occurring within the sealed terraria. A subset of 33 volunteer PTs also completed interviews the week the Plant-in-a-Jar scenario was introduced and approximately 4 months after the instructional intervention ended. Pre- and post-predictions from all PTs as well as interview responses from the subgroup of PTs, were coded into categories based on key plant processes emphasized in the Next Generation Science Standards. Study findings revealed that PTs developed more accurate conceptions of plant processes and their interrelated nature as a result of the instructional intervention. Primary patterns of change in PTs’ plant process conceptions included development of more accurate conceptions of how water is used by plants, more accurate conceptions of photosynthesis features, and more accurate conceptions of photosynthesis and cellular respiration as transformative processes.

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