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CBE-Life Sciences Education

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written by Jessica Watkins and Andrew Elby
edited by Eric Brewe
Students' epistemological views about biology--their ideas about what "counts" as learning and understanding biology--play a role in how they approach their courses and respond to reforms. As introductory biology courses incorporate more physics and quantitative reasoning, student attitudes about the role of equations in biology become especially relevant. However, as documented in research in physics education, students' epistemologies are not always stable and fixed entities; they can be dynamic and context-dependent. In this paper, we examine an interview with an introductory student in which she discusses the use of equations in her reformed biology course. In one part of the interview, she expresses what sounds like an entrenched negative stance toward the role equations can play in understanding biology. However, later in the interview, when discussing a different biology topic, she takes a more positive stance toward the value of equations. These results highlight how a given student can have diverse ways of thinking about the value of bringing physics and math into biology. By highlighting how attitudes can shift in response to different tasks, instructional environments, and contextual cues, we emphasize the need to attend to these factors, rather than treating students' beliefs as fixed and stable.
CBE-Life Sciences Education: Volume 12, Issue 2, Pages 274-286
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Foundations
- Learning Theory
= Representations
- Student Characteristics
= Affect
Education Practices
- Active Learning
= Cooperative Learning
- Pedagogy
= Multidisciplinary
General Physics
- Physics Education Research
= Reform Dissemination
Other Sciences
- Life Sciences
- Upper Undergraduate
- Lower Undergraduate
- Reference Material
= Research study
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Access Rights:
Free access
License:
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.
Rights Holder:
American Society for Cell Biology
DOI:
10.1187/cbe.12-11-0185
NSF Number:
DUE-0919816
Keywords:
GAE, Group Active-Engagement Exercises, IPLS, IPLS case study, IPLS research, Introductory Physics for Life Sciences, OrgBio, epistemology
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created May 18, 2023 by Sam McKagan
Record Updated:
June 9, 2023 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
October 13, 2017
Other Collections:

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Record Link
AIP Format
J. Watkins and A. Elby, , CBE Life. Sci. Educ. 12 (2), 274 (2013), WWW Document, (https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.12-11-0185).
AJP/PRST-PER
J. Watkins and A. Elby, Context Dependence of Students’ Views about the Role of Equations in Understanding Biology, CBE Life. Sci. Educ. 12 (2), 274 (2013), <https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.12-11-0185>.
APA Format
Watkins, J., & Elby, A. (2017, October 13). Context Dependence of Students’ Views about the Role of Equations in Understanding Biology. CBE Life. Sci. Educ., 12(2), 274-286. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.12-11-0185
Chicago Format
Watkins, Jessica, and Andrew Elby. "Context Dependence of Students’ Views about the Role of Equations in Understanding Biology." CBE Life. Sci. Educ. 12, no. 2, (October 13, 2017): 274-286, https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.12-11-0185 (accessed 26 May 2024).
MLA Format
Watkins, Jessica, and Andrew Elby. "Context Dependence of Students’ Views about the Role of Equations in Understanding Biology." CBE Life. Sci. Educ. 12.2 (2013): 274-286. 26 May 2024 <https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.12-11-0185>.
BibTeX Export Format
@article{ Author = "Jessica Watkins and Andrew Elby", Title = {Context Dependence of Students’ Views about the Role of Equations in Understanding Biology}, Journal = {CBE Life. Sci. Educ.}, Volume = {12}, Number = {2}, Pages = {274-286}, Month = {October}, Year = {2017} }
Refer Export Format

%A Jessica Watkins %A Andrew Elby %T Context Dependence of Students' Views about the Role of Equations in Understanding Biology %J CBE Life. Sci. Educ. %E Eric Brewe, (ed) %V 12 %N 2 %D October 13, 2017 %P 274-286 %U https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.12-11-0185 %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Journal Article %A Watkins, Jessica %A Elby, Andrew %D October 13, 2017 %T Context Dependence of Students' Views about the Role of Equations in Understanding Biology %E Brewe, Eric %J CBE Life. Sci. Educ. %V 12 %N 2 %P 274-286 %8 October 13, 2017 %U https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.12-11-0185


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