Title page for ETD etd-1112103-151158

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Hypolite, Christine Collins
Author's Email Address chypol1@lsu.edu
URN etd-1112103-151158
Title The Impact of Whole-Plant Instruction Preservice Teachers' Understanding of Plant Science Principles
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Curriculum & Instruction
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
James H. Wandersee Committee Chair
Earl H. Cheek Committee Member
James Stockard Committee Member
Nina Asher Committee Member
James V. Moroney Dean's Representative
  • elementary teachers
  • inquiry-based instruction
  • teacher education
  • science education
Date of Defense 2003-10-17
Availability unrestricted
The purpose of this research was to determine how an inquiry-based, whole-plant instructional strategy would affect preservice elementary teachers’ understanding of plant science principles. This study probed: what preservice teachers know about plant biology concepts before and after instruction, their views of the interrelatedness of plant parts and the environment, how growing a plant affects preservice teachers’ understanding, and which types of activity-rich plant themes studies, if any, affect preservice elementary teachers’ understandings. The participants in the study were enrolled in two elementary science methods class sections at a state university. Each group was administered a preinstructional test at the beginning of the study. The treatment group participated in inquiry-based activities related to the Principles of Plant Biology (American Society of Plant Biologists, 2001), while the comparison group studied those same concepts through traditional instructional methods. A focus group was formed from the treatment group to participate in co-concept mapping sessions. The participants’ understandings were assessed through artifacts from activities, a comparison of pre- and postinstructional tests, and the concept maps generated by the focus group. Results of the research indicated that the whole-plant, inquiry-based instructional strategy can be applied to teach preservice elementary teachers plant biology while modeling the human constructivist approach. The results further indicated that this approach enhanced their understanding of plant science content knowledge, as well as pedagogical knowledge. The results also showed that a whole-plant approach to teaching plant science concepts is an instructional strategy that is feasible for the elementary school. The theoretical framework for this study was Human Constructivist learning theory (Mintzes & Wandersee, 1998). The content knowledge and instructional strategy was informed by the Principles of Plant Biology (American Society of Plant Biologists, 2001) and Botany for the Next Millennium (Botanical Society of America, 1995). As a result of this study, a better understanding of the factors that influence preservice elementary teachers’ knowledge of plant science principles may benefit elementary science educator in preparing teachers that are “highly qualified.”

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