The American Biology Teacher

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ISSN / EISSN : 0002-7685 / 1938-4211
Published by: University of California Press (10.1525)
Total articles ≅ 18,789
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The American Biology Teacher, Volume 83, pp 428-435; https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2021.83.7.428

Abstract:
We use the population decline of the monarch butterfly as a central phenomenon to support data analysis and scientific argumentation skills and to motivate inquiry and content learning in intermediate college-level biology courses. Students practice analyzing population trends, critically evaluate scientific articles that debate the causes and implications of those trends, and interpret data using key biological concepts in evolution and ecology. Students learn how to evaluate and reconcile conflicting information and use evidence and scientific reasoning to develop arguments about how communities should respond to the decline. Many of our students find the phenomenon engaging, probably because many of them come from the Upper Midwest and have witnessed or even reared monarch butterflies at home or in previous schooling. However, we draw upon ideas from culturally relevant science teaching to engage more of our students in critical analysis about the relevance of these topics to their communities, and we propose strategies for teaching about the monarch decline phenomenon in diverse contexts.
The American Biology Teacher, Volume 83, pp 474-478; https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2021.83.7.474

Abstract:
Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) can have benefits for many students, especially those who lack access to traditional apprenticeships for research. As part of an effort to create more opportunities for students to have access to primary research and move away from traditional cookie-cutter labs, we have created a multicourse CURE spanning three undergraduate teaching labs in which students can pick and choose to take any of the courses that most interest them. This CURE explores the essential understanding of the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria as well as high-throughput sequencing and mutagenesis screens. These low-cost modular labs are designed to be flexible and integrated into any single teaching lab to increase exposure to both fundamental lab skills and primary research.
, Gillian E. McCall, Kimi Jaikaran, ,
The American Biology Teacher, Volume 83, pp 441-450; https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2021.83.7.441

Abstract:
We investigated pre-service elementary teachers’ engagement in science and English language arts (ELA) instruction integrated in the context of a children’s book. Teachers developed models and conducted a compare-and-contrast analysis after exposure to different accounts of the butterfly life cycle: a popular children’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and a scientific account from National Geographic called “Butterfly: A Life.” The mixed-methods research was guided by the following question: What are the affordances and limitations of children’s literature toward engendering an understanding of the butterfly life cycle for pre-service elementary teachers? Content analysis indicated that pre-service elementary teachers’ abilities to compare and contrast the two accounts were not exceptional, as they failed to discriminate between ideas offered in the accounts and missed details of the key aspect of the butterfly life-cycle phenomenon: metamorphosis. However, the quality of participants’ butterfly life-cycle models significantly increased after exposure to the scientific account. We suggest the potential for an additional ELA standard, asking and answering such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text, as a means for enhancing compare-and-contrast skills following these activities.
The American Biology Teacher, Volume 83, pp 464-471; https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2021.83.7.464

Abstract:
In the spring of 2020, remote learning was implemented in schools throughout the world due to the pandemic of SARS CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19. Thrust into online instruction, many science teachers scrambled during this transition, and classes were severely hampered by a lack of hands-on investigations involving critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In response to a need for online experimentation, bioinformatics lessons centered around SARS-CoV-2 were developed. This article presents a multipart bioinformatics lesson that allows students to (1) compare spike protein sequences from the database portal NCBI Virus, to investigate whether this protein would be a good target for a vaccine against COVID-19; and (2) create phylogenetic trees and demonstrate evolutionary relatedness of human coronaviruses. This lesson allows for instruction in molecular biology, virology, immunology, bioinformatics, and phylogenetics, as well as analysis of scientific data. It is appropriate for high school AP Biology and biotechnology courses and can be taught entirely online.
Thomas Edison E. Dela Cruz, , Jeane V. Aril-Dela Cruz
The American Biology Teacher, Volume 83, pp 482-485; https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2021.83.7.482

Abstract:
Creating info-posters or infographics on science themes, topics, or issues can be used to teach skills that develop students’ creativity and ability to communicate science to the public. The ability to transmit scientific data to a generalist audience or a certain target group is one of the soft skills that need to be cultivated among our students. This article presents simple assessment tasks to create info-posters or infographics.
The American Biology Teacher, Volume 83, pp 479-481; https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2021.83.7.479

Abstract:
Teaching cellular respiration in the secondary classroom requires a carefully crafted approach. The discipline, though complex, represents the cornerstone of cellular metabolic transactions. Therefore, this article proposes a method to engage students in the subject through an agricultural lens. Specifically, this will be done by having students consider why animals eat feed and where feed energy goes. After developing an appreciation for such feeding dynamics in animals, students will be better suited for studying the molecular nature of cellular respiration.
The American Biology Teacher, Volume 83, pp 436-440; https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2021.83.7.436

Abstract:
Conceptual teaching was developed three decades ago as an alternative to conventional teaching approaches. It promised a significant shift in teaching practices across different disciplines and age groups. Traditionally, science subjects in high school tend to be content-heavy. Teaching science, especially biology, is still rooted in teaching methods that facilitate factual understanding and low-road transfer of knowledge. As a result, students’ knowledge remains compartmentalized. Students rarely make connections with other disciplines and transfer their biological knowledge to new situations. Bringing concepts to biology is a challenging task. Despite compelling evidence for concept-based teaching, there are few examples of how it can be implemented and replace content-based teaching. This article describes the changes to teaching instructions in biology over the last decade as well as the main challenges that prevent incorporating novel teaching approaches in a biology classroom. The author suggests concept-based teaching as an effective alternative to conventional, content-focused teaching and offers some ideas for implementing concepts into teaching biology in the context of blended learning.
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