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Concannon’s “Transforming Osmosis” and “Learning Biology by Designing” by Janssen Essay (Article)

This article aims to provide biology teachers with simple yet workable strategies that can be used “…to convert a confirmation-type osmosis laboratory into an inquiry investigation” (Concannon & Brown 23). This is after the realization that the present methods used fail to inculcate a learning culture where students become critical of science, including learning how to analyze scientific concepts and applying the knowledge learned to their daily experiences.

The authors are critical of the fact that although students learn about osmosis – the passage of water molecules that maintains internal cellular stability while the external environment changes – they leave institutions of learning with deeply held delusions about this occurrence.

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The authors state that biology teachers should go beyond verification laboratories since these types of laboratories are only limited to science jargon, concepts and facts rather than taking into considerations students’ prior understanding and experiences. As such, all verification activities should be converted to practical inquiry-based explorations. To incorporate inquiry-based investigations to osmosis experiments at the classroom level, teachers must always:

  • Involve the learners in driving questions relating to osmosis
  • Permit learners to create an approach towards investigating their predictions
  • Afford experiment material and time needed to undertake the investigations
  • Persuade learners to critically reflect on their experimental results to guide future investigations (Concannon & Brown 24).

On personal reaction, it is indeed true that such a strategy will deeply assist students to lessen their misconceptions about various topics by allowing them the opportunity to practically collect data and generate scientific claims based on active learning experiences.

Learning Biology by Designing” by Fred Janssen & Arend Jan Waarlo – Sourced from Academic Source Premier Database

The researchers are specifically concerned with developing and testing a biology teaching and learning method known as learning by designing. This approach is basically informed by the fact that students “…develop knowledge about the function and mechanism of biological systems by redesigning them” (Jensen & Waarlo 88). Consequently, the researchers develop three components of learning biology by designing, namely, the design heuristic, the major aspects of the teaching-learning process, and procedures for developing lessons with the preferred features.

In the first component – design heuristic –, the researchers take cognizance of the fact that organisms are optimally designed basically for survival and reproduction. (Jensen & Waarlo 89). In the second component – characteristics of the learning by design teaching/learning process –, “…a description is given of how the teaching/learning process must be organized and executed in order for students to develop adequate knowledge and learn to use the design heuristic independently” (Jensen & Waarlo 89). In the third component – the development of lessons –, the biology teachers may either utilize the design heuristic to expand or adjust their knowledge of biological systems or use the tentative problem structure to make adjustments to the prior knowledge of students in a lesson plan (Jensen & Waarlo 90).

Due to the difficulties involved in teaching biology especially in engaging students in problem-solving, the methodology described by the researchers can effectively be used to trigger students to contribute towards the growth of their own biological knowledge by putting in place strategies that will not only enable the students to acquire a thorough understanding about the function and mechanism of biological systems but also ensuring that students learn to account for such knowledge to a point where they develop the capacity to generate knowledge about biological systems.

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Concannon, J.P., & Brown, P.L. Transforming Osmosis: Labs to Address Standards for Inquiry. Science Activities 43.3 (2008): 23-26. Web.

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