Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The purpose of this exploratory research was to study how students learn photosynthesis and cellular respiration and to determine the value added to the student's learning by each of the three technology-scaffolded learning strategy components (animated concept presentations and WebQuest-style activities, data collection, and student-constructed animations) of the BioDatamation™ (BDM) Program. BDM learning strategies utilized the Theory of Interacting Visual Fields™ (TIVF) (Reuter & Wandersee, 2002a, 2002b; 2003a, 2003b) which holds that meaningful knowledge is hierarchically constructed using the past, present, and future visual fields, with visual metacognitive components that are derived from the principles of Visual Behavior (Jones,1995), Human Constructivist Theory (Mintzes & Wandersee, 1998a), and Visual Information Design Theory (Tufte, 1990, 1997, 2001). Student alternative conceptions of photosynthesis and cellular respiration were determined by the item analysis of 263,267 Biology Advanced Placement Examinations and were used to develop the BDM instructional strategy and interview questions. The subjects were 24 undergraduate students of high and low biology prior knowledge enrolled in an introductory-level General Biology course at a major research university in the Deep South. Fifteen participants received BDM instruction which included original and innovative learning materials and laboratories in 6 phases; 8 of the 15 participants were the subject of in depth, extended individual analysis. The other 9 participants received traditional, non-BDM instruction. Interviews which included participants’ creation of concept maps and visual field diagrams were conducted after each phase. Various content analyses, including Chi's Verbal Analysis and quantitizing/qualitizing were used for data analysis. The total value added to integrative knowledge during BDM instruction with the three visual fields was an average increase of 56% for cellular respiration and 62% increase for photosynthesis knowledge, improved long-term memory of concepts, and enhanced biological literacy to the multidimensional level, as determined by the BSCS literacy model. WebQuest-style activities and data collection provided for animated prior knowledge in the past visual field, and detailed content knowledge construction in the present visual field. During student construction of animated presentations, layering required participants to think by rearranging words and images for improved hierarchical organization of knowledge with real-life applications.



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Committee Chair

James H. Wandersee

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