Second-Level Biology: A Contemporary Perspective

1986 The American history teacher  
Six participants at an NSF Workshop, "Science for the Talented and Gifted" at the University of Iowa, assessed the current role of a second-year high school biology course. As a result, five areas of instructional concerns surfaced: 1. to emphasize student-centered teaching strategies rather than the content area; 2. to broaden the spectrum of student enrollment; 3. to develop relevance, including social relevance; 4. to stimulate creativity; and 5. to include a research component. Science is
more » ... active process including problem identification, experimentation, interpretation of data, hypothesizing and testing. Thomas Mertens (1979) declares, "Facts, as isolated fragments of information, are meaningless and are not useful to the scientist or science students. Facts must be related to concepts and principles if they are to be meaningful." Facts must be used as a means to an end, as in problem solving. Stressing that science is a very human endeavor will make it more attractive to students and will prevent them from being in awe of science. We believe from our own experience, as supported by research, that emphasizing student-centered teaching strategies will lead to the treatment of science as a process rather than a collection of facts. We have identified the following student-centered teaching strategies: 1. cooperative learning; 2. individual instruction; mastery learning; 4. open-ended instruction; 5. ethnomethodology-accepting multiple variable conditions-no right answer; and 6. changing the role of the teacher from that of sole provider of information to a senior fellow learner. "Teachers are overusing competition, misusing the individualized instruction approach and underusing cooperation in their classrooms." In the area of establishing goal structures, current research suggests that most teachers are overusing competition, misusing the individualized instruction approach and underusing cooperation in their classrooms. A functioning society is cooperative, not competitive; yet many students tend to be comfortable when working individually and tend to be reluctant to cooperate. "Cooperative interaction with others has been shown to be necessary for the development of trust, self-confidence, goal setting, personal identity and cognitive development." (ohnson & Johnson 1975). This is not to suggest that cooperative education is the only strategy to be employed in the classroom, but that a blend of competition, individualization and cooperation will prove beneficial. Some techniques that may prove useful in implementing cooperative education as part of this strategy include: concept verification strategy; peer 348
doi:10.2307/4448324 fatcat:o6dtjm6gevfmbfceo4odhyikje