A determination and selection of a biology course content of significance for a freshman level general education course Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/cv43p024z

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  • The purposes of this investigation were twofold: 1. To determine important criteria for making a selection of course content in general biology. 2. To ascertain what should be the content emphasis in biology for the purposes of general education at the freshman college level. The literature pertinent to the problem was reviewed. A number of approaches and educational philosophies have been proposed for the selection of biological course content. Courses have been developed around: 1. Topics that frequently occur in newspapers and widely read magazines 2. The misconceptions and superstitions of students 3. Basic concepts fundamental to understanding the discipline 4, "Significant biological principles" that ramify most widely into human affairs 5. Student interests and preferences 6. Philosophical and historical implications of biology 7. Textbooks and courses of study 8. The use of "expert advice" The subject matter content of 20 recent leading textbooks, designed for use in college introductory biology courses was analyzed, summarized, and classified under 11 broad content areas that referred to plants, animals, and micro - organisms alike, and that traversed all levels of biological organization. Current opinions of a random sample of 150 competent research biologists, college and university teaching biologists, science educators, and science historians were sought on the content obtained from the 20 textbooks, The data were collected by means of mailed questionnaires. The study was divided into three parts as follows: Questionnaire I, the major phase of the study, sought opinions on content emphasis, inclusions, omissions, objectives, and instructional aids (50 biologists). Questionnaire II, sought opinions regarding the extent to which a modern course for the non -science major should reflect the recent dependency of biology on mathematics (50 biologists). Questionnaire III, was concerned with the emphasis to be placed on the contributions and methodology of men of science. (40 biologists and ten science historians) The data were analyzed by means of descriptive percentages. The following major conclusions were drawn from the data obtained in this study: 1. A general education course in biology should lead the student primarily to appreciate the place and significance of biology in human culture, and to a personal enjoyment of the discipline. 2. No attempt should be made to acquaint the non -science major with the fund of biological knowledge accumulated to date, or to help him to develop an insight into current biological research, although these goals might be accomplished to some degree, simultaneously, as the primary purposes of the course are achieved. 3. The major content emphasis of the course, without regard to sequence, should be focused primarily on environmental biology. 4. The second largest segment of the course should be equally distributed between two content areas: 1) evolution, and 2) energetics and metabolism. 5. Important topics from other content areas that should be included are: a. Organic compounds in living systems b. Ionic dissociation c. Importance of physical and chemical principles in understanding life d. Plant tissue pattern contrasted with the animal plan e. Chemical control, animal hormones f. Mendelian inheritance g. Sex and inheritance h. Genes and gene action i. Genetics problems j. Practical applications of genetics k. Cellular aspects of reproduction, mitosis and meiosis 1. Asexual and sexual reproduction, general features m. Aging n, Death o, The ideas and works of selected biologists -- William Harvey, Gregor Mendel, Lamarck, and Charles Darwin 6. Molecular concepts, topics related to nervous control, biological roots of behavior, systematics (except for general principles), quantitative concepts, and the historical contributions of most of the biologists, should be de-emphasized. 7. Topics related to health and disease should not be included in the biological science course for the non -science major. 8. A laboratory should accompany the course. 9. The content can be most fruitfully taught by utilizing a combination of the "principles" and the "evolutionary" approaches, 10. Problem solving exercises, collateral readings, summaries, and audio - visual aids should be utilized to help the students to obtain the objectives of the course.
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