Theses in Biology

This collection consists of theses for the Master of Science in General Biology at Point Loma Nazarene University.

2019-2020 General Biology Theses

Creationist-Believing Students’ Scientific Knowledge and Reasoning about Evolution

Richard Truman Peterson
Creationist-Believing Students’ Scientific Knowledge and Reasoning about Evolution

This purpose of this study arose from a pilot-study problem observed of acceptance of microevolution among those who identified as holding a creationist worldview or as having misgivings about the theory of evolution, which can be classified as a level of evolution acceptance, while these individuals still maintained a complete rejection of macroevolution, particularly when it came to primate/ human evolution. This study made use of the framework of Borderging et al.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00015369

Teacher Preparedness to Teach Evolution

Rebecca Diane Christian
Teacher Preparedness to Teach Evolution
The idea for this study came from the shortage of research that has been done to understand the evolution instruction provided by new secondary education teachers. A lack of training in teachers can potentially impact student understanding and acceptance. This study used a mixed- methods approach with a quantitative questionnaire modeled after Sickel and Friedrichsen’s (2013) research to measure teacher preparedness in evolutionary content knowledge, acceptance, and pedagogy.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00017894

2016-2017 General Biology Theses

Context-based Learning of Genetics by Means of Authentic Practice

Ronald Michelotti
Context-based Learning of Genetics by Means of Authentic Practice
Research reveals that developing a meaningful multileveled understanding of molecular genetics is challenging for students. An unexplored approach to fostering this scientific understanding is the use of “real world” context-based learning modules within this domain.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00006075

2015-2016 General Biology Theses

Comparison of Massed Versus Distributed Use of Natural Selection Concept Cartoons in a Secondary Biology Curriculum

Matthew Nasont
Comparison of Massed Versus Distributed Use of Natural Selection Concept Cartoons in a Secondary Biology Curriculum

Evolution, by means of natural selection, is a core concept central to understanding biology. A hurdle to effective natural selection instruction is the wide range of alternative conceptions held by students that help them make sense of the world in which they live; including those regarding evolution. Teachers can use formative assessment tools, such as concept cartoons, to identify student conceptions and facilitate conceptual development and progression to scientific conceptions.

Evolution, by means of natural selection, is a core concept central to understanding biology. A hurdle to effective natural selection instruction is the wide range of alternative conceptions held by students that help them make sense of the world in which they live; including those regarding evolution. Teachers can use formative assessment tools, such as concept cartoons, to identify student conceptions and facilitate conceptual development and progression to scientific conceptions.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00006073

Effects of Discourse on High School Students’ Conceptual Understanding of Natural Selection

Douglas Dolter
Effects of Discourse on High School Students’ Conceptual Understanding of Natural Selection

Full Abstract: Evolution, and more specifically, natural selection, is the foundation of many biological topics. Thus, a scientific understanding of this concept is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of biology. However, studies have revealed that high school students have a limited understating of natural selection and often apply non-scientific reasoning when thinking about the way populations change over time.

Evolution, and more specifically, natural selection, is the foundation of many biological topics. Thus, a scientific understanding of this concept is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of biology. However, studies have revealed that high school students have a limited understating of natural selection and often apply non-scientific reasoning when thinking about the way populations change over time.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00005490

2014-2015 General Biology Theses

Mechanisms and Outcomes of Genetic Variation as a Threshold Concept for Understanding Evolution by Natural Selection

Karoly Tippets-Russell
Mechanisms and Outcomes of Genetic Variation as a Threshold Concept for Understanding Evolution by Natural Selection

Higher education science researchers have postulated that understanding variation is a threshold concept in biology. Variation is evident in all living organisms yet is often overlooked as important or impactful in the process of natural selection. This study explores the idea that understanding the mechanisms and outcomes of genetic variation is a threshold concept for understanding the consequences of that variation, in particular evolution by natural selection.

Higher education science researchers have postulated that understanding variation is a threshold concept in biology. Variation is evident in all living organisms yet is often overlooked as important or impactful in the process of natural selection. This study explores the idea that understanding the mechanisms and outcomes of genetic variation is a threshold concept for understanding the consequences of that variation, in particular evolution by natural selection.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00006087

Using Data Rich Problem Tasks to Promote Understanding of Causal Relationships in Ecosystems

Maria Silva
Using Data Rich Problem Tasks to Promote Understanding of Causal Relationships in Ecosystems

In this study, a design-based research approach was used in the creation of data-rich problem (DRP) tasks intended to support students constructing knowledge about food webs and ecosystem dynamics, specifically the effects from a loss of species. This iterative process of DRP task creation included qualitative results from two rounds of interviews. The interview results informed the creation of a set of DRP tasks that were implemented in two 7th grade science classrooms.

In this study, a design-based research approach was used in the creation of data-rich problem (DRP) tasks intended to support students constructing knowledge about food webs and ecosystem dynamics, specifically the effects from a loss of species. This iterative process of DRP task creation included qualitative results from two rounds of interviews. The interview results informed the creation of a set of DRP tasks that were implemented in two 7th grade science classrooms. Qualitative results from the culminating assessment demonstrate that students reached proficiency in “dissipation vs.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00006113

2013-2014 General Biology Theses

An Exploration of Graphing Software Program Selection and Relative Proficiency Among Undergraduate Biology Students

Elizabeth Ferguson
An Exploration of Graphing Software Program Selection and Relative Proficiency Among Undergraduate Biology Students

Full Abstract: Although the use of technology in biological career paths is increasing globally, studies indicate that United States undergraduate biology students are not prepared for this technologically advanced workforce. One potential element of this issue is that students may not have adequate training with technology-based tools as it applies to undergraduate biology curriculum.

Although the use of technology in biological career paths is increasing globally, studies indicate that United States undergraduate biology students are not prepared for this technologically advanced workforce. One potential element of this issue is that students may not have adequate training with technology-based tools as it applies to undergraduate biology curriculum. To address this problem, my exploratory study examines student proficiency for graphing with Excel, and aptitude for an industry standard graphing program, SigmaPlot 12.0.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00005507

High school students’ conceptual understanding of natural selection, specifically variation in a population and origin of variation, as influenced by traditional Concept Cartoons, or an animated software program

Jessica Sphar
High school students’ conceptual understanding of natural selection, specifically variation in a population and origin of variat

Concepts in evolution are introduced at the middle school level, but are taught in more depth at the high school level. Students come in with prior conceptions of evolution that influence student learning in the classroom. There are multiple ways of assessing students’ understanding of various concepts of evolution that include interviews, tests, labs, and writing activities.

Concepts in evolution are introduced at the middle school level, but are taught in more depth at the high school level. Students come in with prior conceptions of evolution that influence student learning in the classroom. There are multiple ways of assessing students’ understanding of various concepts of evolution that include interviews, tests, labs, and writing activities. A mixed-method design was used to analyze students’ understanding of variation in a population and origin of variation, subtopics of evolution.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00006081

Use of Inquiry Based-Pedagogy During Organism Dissection to Improve Scientific Questioning Skills of Middle School Students

Marilyn Reed
Use of Inquiry Based-Pedagogy During Organism Dissection to Improve Scientific Questioning Skills of Middle School Students

Although many teachers consider dissection an important educational tool, it is mainly used to reinforce information previously gained by studying anatomy and physiology. Rarely is inquiry-based pedagogy used with dissection; instead the activity is mainly teacher-driven and worksheet-based. The purpose of this study was to examine the improvement in student question writing skills when a limited inquiry-based approach was used.

Although many teachers consider dissection an important educational tool, it is mainly used to reinforce information previously gained by studying anatomy and physiology. Rarely is inquiry-based pedagogy used with dissection; instead the activity is mainly teacher-driven and worksheet-based. The purpose of this study was to examine the improvement in student question writing skills when a limited inquiry-based approach was used.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00006111

Using a Data-Rich Problem (DRP) Task to Promote Student Understanding of Cellular Respiration within an Ecosystem

Joshua White
Using a Data-Rich Problem (DRP) Task to Promote Student Understanding of Cellular Respiration within an Ecosystem

In this study a design-based research approach was applied in the creation of a data-rich problem (DRP) task intended to improve student achievement in cellular respiration at the ecosystem level; an identified area of difficulty and an area of focus in the Next Generation Science Standards covering Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems in High School Life Science. The respiration DRP task was embedded in an existing learning module developed by Maskiewicz (2006) using Ecospheres®.

In this study a design-based research approach was applied in the creation of a data-rich problem (DRP) task intended to improve student achievement in cellular respiration at the ecosystem level; an identified area of difficulty and an area of focus in the Next Generation Science Standards covering Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems in High School Life Science. The respiration DRP task was embedded in an existing learning module developed by Maskiewicz (2006) using Ecospheres®.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00006049

2012-2013 General Biology Theses

A Revision of the Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection for Middle School Students

Patricia Evans
A Revision of the Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection for Middle School Students

Full Abstract: The Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection (CINS) developed by Dianne Anderson and Kathleen Fisher is a valuable tool to measure how well college students understand natural selection. However, despite its value at the undergraduate level, its high readability deemed it of little use at the middle school level. The purpose of this study was to make the CINS more equitable for middle school students.

The Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection (CINS) developed by Dianne Anderson and Kathleen Fisher is a valuable tool to measure how well college students understand natural selection. However, despite its value at the undergraduate level, its high readability deemed it of little use at the middle school level. The purpose of this study was to make the CINS more equitable for middle school students. Changes in the form of word substitutions and shortened sentences were made to the CINS in an effort to lower its readability. The CINS was also divided into two shorter versions.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00005509

Scaling Ability and Atom and Cell Conceptions and Their Implications for Understanding Cellular Functions by Middle School Students

Casey Vogel
Scaling Ability and Atom and Cell Conceptions and Their Implications for Understanding Cellular Functions by Middle School Stude

Because students in middle school through high school demonstrate persistent alternative conceptions regarding atoms and cells and their functional relationships, it is important to investigate ways in which to refine and correct these ideas so that students have a stronger foundation upon which to build concepts about cellular biology. Research has also shown that people generally have difficulty scaling objects outside of the macro scale.

Because students in middle school through high school demonstrate persistent alternative conceptions regarding atoms and cells and their functional relationships, it is important to investigate ways in which to refine and correct these ideas so that students have a stronger foundation upon which to build concepts about cellular biology. Research has also shown that people generally have difficulty scaling objects outside of the macro scale.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00006096

2010-2011 General Biology Theses

Identification of Alternative Conceptions Held by High School Students Regarding Stem Cells and Stem Cell Research

Julie Gallagher
Identification of Alternative Conceptions Held by High School Students Regarding Stem Cells and Stem Cell Research

The purpose of this study was to determine the existence of high school students’ alternative conceptions regarding stem cells, and explore the underlying themes and contexts of these conceptions.

The purpose of this study was to determine the existence of high school students’ alternative conceptions regarding stem cells, and explore the underlying themes and contexts of these conceptions. Following a qualitative exploratory approach consisting of one-on-one semi-structured interviews of 37 high school students, a concept-based (thematic) classification table was created from the emergent themes identifying related alternative conceptions. Student interviews revealed that students held naïve conceptions in almost every stem cell topic area.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00005861

Use of Biology Concept Cartoons to Assist Low Performing Middle School Students in Their Understanding of Natural Selection

Muriel Gross
Use of Biology Concept Cartoons to Assist Low Performing Middle School Students in Their Understanding of Natural Selection

This study investigated the use of biological concept cartoons in discussions as a strategy to actively engage low performing (LP) seventh grade students to stimulate the formation of more scientifically accurate conceptions. This mixed methods study involved achievement testing, student surveys, video-taping of group discussions and interviews with four LP students. Students received either concept cartoons prompts (CC) or the same prompts with Text only and no visuals (TO).

This study investigated the use of biological concept cartoons in discussions as a strategy to actively engage low performing (LP) seventh grade students to stimulate the formation of more scientifically accurate conceptions. This mixed methods study involved achievement testing, student surveys, video-taping of group discussions and interviews with four LP students. Students received either concept cartoons prompts (CC) or the same prompts with Text only and no visuals (TO). A series of four discussions on natural selection concepts were recorded with inquiry-based projects in between.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00006037

Use of Biology Concept Cartoons to Promote Discussion of Cell Division among High School Biology Students: A Qualitative Study

Christy Porter
Use of Biology Concept Cartoons to Promote Discussion of Cell Division among High School Biology Students: A Qualitative Study

In this study, the quality of small group discussions stimulated by concept cartoons on the topic of cell division was examined in a class of sixteen high school agriculture biology students. Two hypotheses were tested with this study: 1) the use of concept cartoons on the topic of cell division will increase participation and motivation in high school biology students and 2) the use of concept cartoons will increase conceptual change in high school biology students.

In this study, the quality of small group discussions stimulated by concept cartoons on the topic of cell division was examined in a class of sixteen high school agriculture biology students. Two hypotheses were tested with this study: 1) the use of concept cartoons on the topic of cell division will increase participation and motivation in high school biology students and 2) the use of concept cartoons will increase conceptual change in high school biology students.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00006109

Using Case Studies for High School Students Learning of Abstract Concepts in Molecular Genetics

Michelle Baun
Using Case Studies for High School Students Learning of Abstract Concepts in Molecular Genetics
Disciplines such as law, business, and medicine have used case studies for decades to teach students about their field through comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation skills. The case study method involves learning by doing where students work through the problem of the case study to come up with possible solutions. Rarely has this technique been used in high school science.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00005444

Using Interview Data from Non-Major Biology Students To Improve the Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection

Danielle Dwyer
Using Interview Data from Non-Major Biology Students To Improve the Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection

Full Abstract: The conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection was first published in 2002 (Anderson & Fisher, 2002). Recent research by Nehm & Schonfeld (2008) has raised concern as to whether or not the Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection (CINS) is effective in assessing students' understanding on concepts related to natural selection.

The conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection was first published in 2002 (Anderson & Fisher, 2002). Recent research by Nehm & Schonfeld (2008) has raised concern as to whether or not the Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection (CINS) is effective in assessing students' understanding on concepts related to natural selection. The purpose of this study was to obtain feedback from non-major biology students, through semi-structured interviews, on 12 items that generated low scores or have not paired appropriately on factor analysis on the current version of the CINS.
English
Type: 
Thesis
WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00005513

Tabs

WHDL ID: 
WHDL-00019253
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