Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

The Effect of Metaconceptual Teaching Activities on Pre-Service Biology Teachers' Conceptual Understanding about Seed Plants

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

The Effect of Metaconceptual Teaching Activities on Pre-Service Biology Teachers' Conceptual Understanding about Seed Plants

Article excerpt

Abstract

The term metaconceptual refers to metacognitive knowledge and processes that are acting on and related to one's conceptual system. In this study, metaconceptual teaching activities were implemented to facilitate preservice teachers' engagement in metaconceptual processes. It was the purpose of this research to investigate the changes in pre-service teachers' alternative ideas regarding flowering plants after being exposed to metaconceptual teaching activities. The participants consisted of 32 pre-service teachers who were enrolled in a college level second-year laboratory class about flowering plants. A 13 item open-ended question set was administered a week before and a week after the instructional interventions. In order to facilitate students' engagement in metaconceptual processes, they were exposed to several instructional activities including poster drawing, journal writing, concept mapping, and class and group discussions. Alternative conceptions that pre-service teachers had prior to and following the instructional interventions were identified and the ones that changed, did not change and developed after the instruction were examined. The results of this study show that metaconceptual teaching activities were effective at changing pre-service teachers' alternative conceptions regarding flowering plants.

Key Words

Metaconceptual Teaching Activities, Seed Plants, Flowering Plants.

One major source of difficulties that students and teachers have in learning and teaching science concepts is students' strongly held ideas that are inconsistent with those accepted by the scientific community. Changing these conceptions with scientifically accepted ones is not an easy and straightforward process (Bahar, 2003) as it requires learners to recognize and evaluate their existing and new conceptions associated commitments, everyday experiences, and contextual factors (Chi, Slotta, & Leeuw, 1994; diSessa, 1993; Posner, Strike, Hewson, & Gertzog, 1982; Ueno, 1993; Vosniadou, 1994). These processes demand learners to engage in more abstract and higher level thinking about one's own theories, namely metacognitive processes. Kuhn, Amsel and O'Loughlin (1988) defined metacognition as "thinking explicitly about a theory one holds (rather than only thinking with it)" (p. 7). Many researchers acknowledged the role of learners' metacognitive activities in the change in their conceptions (Beeth, 1998; Ferrari & Elik, 2003; Hennessey, 1999, 2003; Vosniadou, 1994, 2003; White & Gunstone, 1989; Yürük, Beeth, & Andersen, 2009). According to Pintrich and Sinatra (2003), an implicit assumption about metacognition has been already made in the models about conceptual change. Although there are studies that emphasize the role of metacognition in the conceptual change process the number of the empirical studies that shows this relationship is limited.

Metacognition is a multidimensional construct involving various kinds of knowledge and processes. Several researchers have used a variety of theoretical frameworks to describe and study this construct. This construct can be broadly defined as "thinking about one's own thinking" (Rickey & Stacy, 2000) or "cognition about cognition" (Flavell, 1979). Brown (1987, p. 66) described metacognition as "one's knowledge and control of own cog- nitive system." Research studies conducted about metacognition focus mainly on problem-solving, reading, and memory. One's knowledge about problem-solving or reading strategies, and monitoring and regulating the execution of those strategies, awareness and employment of heuristics, one's knowledge about the limitations of his/her memory or learning styles are some examples to the metacognitive processes (see Brown, 1987; Flavell, 1979; Schraw & Moshman, 1995). Although these forms of metacognitive knowledge and processes have potential to successfully perform a given task such as problem-solving and reading a text (Hennessey, 2003), they may be inadequate to lead to a change in learners' conceptual structure (Yürük et al. …

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