The food web concept : identification of a learning hierarchy and related misconceptions

Grant, Bette Anne Crnkovich (1983) The food web concept : identification of a learning hierarchy and related misconceptions. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
    (Original Version)

Abstract

The present study investigated the application of Gagné's learning hierarchy model to the learning of the concept of a food web, an important topic in biology curricula. Few validated learning hierarchies have been reported in the literature for concepts outside the realm of mathematics and the physical sciences. As a result, the application of Gagné's model in the present study provided some information regarding the applicability of the model to such a concept. In addition, the process of validating the hypothesized learning hierarchy provided a ready means by which to investigate students' misconceptions regarding skills comprising the hierarchy. Hence a second aspect of the present study concerned the identification of common misconceptions which grade ten biology students hold regarding the food web concept. This in turn provided some information regarding the applicability of the learning hierarchy model to the study of students' misconceptions. -- The sample consisted of 200 grade ten biology students from three coeducational schools in the St. John's area. A learning hierarchy was developed for the food web concept using a Gagné-type task analysis. Upon completion of regular classroom instruction on food webs, the sample was tested on the skills comprising the food web hierarchy. Following this pretest a self-instructional booklet, designed to remediate the skills of the food web hierarchy for students who had failed to learn them initially, was administered. Each subject received an individualized prescription for the remediation of skills which were failed on the pretest. Following the remedial phase, a parallel form of the pretest was administered to the sample. These data were analyzed using two psychometric validation techniques, the ordering theoretic and the Dayton and Macready methods. Griffiths' method was used to investigate the hierarchy in terms of its transfer validity. Data from test items which were answered incorrectly were analyzed and subjects' misconceptions were recorded. -- The hypothesized food web hierarchy was found to be valid both psychometrically and in terms of transfer, although transfer of learning for connections involving lower skills of the hierarchy could not be determined because too few students failed these skills in the pretest. However, the validated hierarchy appears to offer much potential use as an instructional tool for the instruction of food webs. In addition, these findings indicate some support for the applicability of the learning hierarchy model to concepts other than those of mathematics and the physical sciences. Five common misconceptions held by grade ten biology students concerning food webs, food chains and predation were identified. In one case, a misconception was revealed for a large part of the sample in items testing subordinate skills, but did not occur in the case of the terminal skill. This suggests that the learning hierarchy model may be useful in the study of misconceptions, in that it has the ability to reveal underlying misconceptions which would not be apparent from students' responses to the terminal skill alone.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7847
Item ID: 7847
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 121-128. -- Includes The ecology of food webs & a self-instructional booklet / by B. Grant. -- QEII has photocopy.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1983
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Learning, Psychology of; Food chains (Ecology)

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