Prof. Anat Yarden’s research group

The group of Prof. Anat Yarden attempts to bridge between the dynamics of biological discoveries and high-school biology education, while adapting practices employed by scientists to the practices by which students and teachers accumulate and advance their knowledge within the discipline of biology. Towards this end the group is focusing on: i) further characterization of the concept developed by the group for learning biology through scientific research articles that are adapted to the knowledge level of high-school biology students (adapted-primary-literature, APL) and examining the influence of learning using such texts on students’ writing abilities; ii) examining the outcomes of learning genetics and biotechnology using authentic bioinformatics tools and databases; iii) making learning materials in molecular biology less abstract for high-school students using virtual and hands-on experiences; iv) integrating a systems thinking approach into the learning of biological systems in general and the transport system in particular in junior-high school; v) characterizing the teaching and learning of authentic scientific practices in inquiry-oriented educational programs in biology; and on vi) characterizing the dynamics of in-service high school biology teachers’ Pedagogical Content Knowledge during long-term professional development programs.

Dr. Michal Haskel-Ittah’s research group

The group of Dr. Michal Haskel-Ittah studies the learning and teaching of biological mechanisms. While mechanisms have been used by scientists for decades as a means of explaining natural phenomena, in school, not much attention is paid to this important aspect of understanding science. When the role of mechanisms in explaining natural phenomena is overlooked, these mechanisms become a collection of memorized descriptive facts. This not only misrepresents what science really is, it may also hinder the ability to use these mechanisms as a resource for everyday decision-making.

How can we change this? A deep understanding of how students learn and make use of biological mechanisms is needed to answer this question, and this is precisely the focus of our research group. By developing educational programs centered on biological phenomena and examining students’ learning process, we are studying the development of mechanistic understanding and mechanistic reasoning. Our aim is to characterize core knowledge resources that may promote mechanistic reasoning and its contribution to scientific literacy.