Date of Award

Spring 2009

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy and Leadership

First Advisor

Whipp, Joan

Second Advisor

Howes, Ruth

Third Advisor

Pink, William


Few studies have been conducted of student misconceptions, knowledge frameworks and prior knowledge at the high school level, particularly in the biological sciences. Since a deeper understanding of protein structure and function may allow secondary level students to envision other basic processes of life that are commonly targeted for public debate and decision-making, this study, using an interpretive cross-case study design, was conducted to investigate student conceptions and frameworks concerning the Central Dogma of Biology. Data sources included interviews, a pre/post-objective test, concept mapping, modified storyboarding and classroom observations. Students improved their basic knowledge of scientific terminology and their ability to make connections between terms and assimilate new terms improved. However, students did not demonstrate ability to recognize the relevance of activities as they connected to the bigger picture of the Central Dogma. New conceptual connections appeared to come from exposure not only to curriculum in the biology class, but also from outside sources like television, health class, and reading. After formal instruction, most student conceptions and frameworks progressed to level of proto-scientific reasoning (as compared to non-scientific or scientific). Implications for biology curriculum, pedagogy and further research are presented.



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