Human Genetic Variation
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Implementing the Module (continued)

Figure 9 - Correlation to the National Science Education Standards.
The Teaching Standards
Standard A: Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science program for their students. In doing this, teachers Correlation to Human Genetic Variation
. develop a framework of yearlong and short-term goals for students. Each activity provides short-term objectives for students. Figures 7, Conceptual Flow of the Activities, and 13, Timeline for Teaching the Module, also help teachers plan.
. select science content and adapt and design curriculum to meet the interests, knowledge,understanding, abilities, and experiences of students. Using the module helps teachers update their curriculum in response to their students' interest in this topic.
. select teaching and assessment strategies that support the development of student understanding and nurture a community of science learners. The focus on active, collaborative, and inquiry-based learning in the activities helps teachers meet this standard.
Standard B: Teachers of science guide and facilitate learning. In doing this, teachers Correlation to Human Genetic Variation
. focus and support inquiries while interacting with students. All of the activities in the module encourage and support student inquiry.
. orchestrate discourse among students about scientific ideas. All of the activities in the module promote discourse among students.
. challenge students to accept and share responsibility for their own learning. All of the activities in the module challenge students to accept and share responsibility for their learning.

. recognize and respond to student diversity and encourage all students to participate fully in science learning. Combining the 5E instructional model with active, collaborative learning is an effective way of responding to the diversity of student backgrounds and learning styles.
. encourage and model the skills of scientific inquiry, as well as the curiosity, openness to new ideas and data, and skepticism that characterize science. Annotations for the teacher that occur throughout the activities provide many suggestions for how teachers can model these attributes.
Standard C: Teachers of science engage in ongoing assessment of their teaching and of student learning. In doing this, teachers Correlation to Human Genetic Variation
. use multiple methods and systematically gather data about student understanding and ability. Each activity has a variety of assessment components embedded within its structure. Annotations draw teachers' attention to these opportunities for assessment.
. analyze assessment data to guide teaching. Annotations provide answers to questions that can help teachers analyze student feedback. The annotations also suggest ways for teachers to change their approach to students, based on that feedback.
Standard E: Teachers of science develop communities of science learners that reflect the intellectual rigor of scientific inquiry and the attitudes and social values conducive to science learning. In doing this, teachers Correlation to Human Genetic Variation
. display and demand respect for the diverse ideas, skills, and experiences of all students. The answers provided for teachers model these qualities.
. nurture collaboration among students. All of the activities are designed to be completed by students working in collaborative teams.
. structure and facilitate ongoing formal and informal discussion based on a shared understanding of rules of scientific discourse. All of the discussions in the activities model the rules of scientific discourse.
. model and emphasize the skills, attitudes, and values of scientific inquiry. The annotations for teachers provide many suggestions about how to model these skills, attitudes, and values.

Conceptually the broadest of the three, active learning means that students are involved "in doing things and thinking about the things they are doing" (Bonwell and Eison, 1991, p. 2). These authors elaborate by listing the following characteristics typically associated with strategies that deserve to be labeled "active:"

Most teachers endorse the use of active learning. We know intuitively, if not experientially and explicitly, that learning does not occur through passive absorption. But often we do not realize how active students must be for real learning to occur. Typically, the answer to this question is more active than we might expect.

The activities in this module were designed with the following assumptions about active learning (BSCS, 1999):

  1. An activity promotes active learning to the degree to which all students, not simply a vocal few, are involved in mental processing related to the content.
  2. An activity promotes active learning to the degree that it offers extended opportunities for students to become personally engaged with the content.
  3. An activity promotes active learning to the degree that it involves students in thinking deeply about content.

The activities also make extensive use of collaborative learning. Most often occurring within the context of group work, collaborative and cooperative learning currently enjoy "favorite child" status among the many strategies available to teachers.

Teachers are using group approaches across disciplines, for in-and out-of-class assignments, with large and small classes, and with beginning and advanced students. In fact, you will often find that collaborative activities go hand-in-hand with active learning.

Collaborative and cooperative learning, both with long theoretical and empirical histories, come out of different academic traditions, operate on different premises, and employ different strategies. But both approaches share a fundamental commitment to the notion that students learn from and with each other, "learning through joint intellectual effort," according to one expert (Brody, 1995, p. 134). In the interest of brevity, we will leave undiscussed the finer distinctions between the two, offering in this curriculum a mix of strategies that put students together and engage them in tasks that encourage learning in collective contexts.

Finally, the activities in the module use inquiry-based strategies. All truly inquiry-based activities share the characteristics of active learning. In addition, inquiry-based strategies emphasize discovery: the process of observation, followed by analysis, that leads to explanation, to conclusion, or to the next question. Note that an activity need not involve students in active experimentation to be fundamentally an inquiry experience.

More than active or collaborative learning, inquiry-based strategies attempt to teach students how biologists see the world, how they think about what they see, and how they draw conclusions that are consistent with observations and current knowledge. Such strategies say to the student, in effect, "This is science as a way of knowing."

The 5E Instructional Model

The activities in the module also have been designed using an instructional model to organize and sequence the experiences offered to students. This model, called the 5E model, is based on constructivism, a term that expresses a view of the student as an active agent who "constructs" meaning out of his or her interactions with events (Perkins, 1992). According to this view, rather than passively absorbing information, the student redefines, reorganizes, elaborates, and changes his or her initial understandings through interactions with phenomena, the environment, and other individuals. In short, the student interprets objects and phenomena and then internalizes this interpretation in terms of previous experiences.

A constructivist view of learning recognizes that the development of ideas and the acquisition of lasting understandings take time and experiences (Saunders, 1992). In the typical classroom, this means that fewer concepts and subjects can be covered during the school year or, in this case, in five days of instruction. Nevertheless, research suggests that students who are given time and opportunity to thoroughly grasp a small number of important concepts do better on traditional tests than students who are exposed briefly to a large number of ideas (Sizer, 1992; Knapp, 1995). In fact, the intensive thinking involved in constructing a thorough understanding of a few major ideas appears to benefit all students, regardless of ability.

Figure 10 illustrates the key components of the 5E model, so-called because it takes students through five phases of learning that are easily described using five words that begin with the letter "E": Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate.

This instructional model allows students to share common experiences related to human genetic variation, to use and build on prior knowledge, to construct meaning, and to assess continually their understanding of a major concept. It avoids excessive use of lecture because research shows that 10 minutes of lecture is near the upper limit of comfortable attention that students give to lecture material, whereas the attention span in an investigative activity is far longer (Project Kaleidoscope, 1991). In the 5E model, the teacher acts as facilitator and coach much more frequently than he or she acts as the disseminator of information.

The following paragraphs illustrate how the 5Es are implemented across the activities in this module. They also provide suggestions about effective teaching behaviors that help students experience each phase of the learning cycle.

Figure 10 - The key components of the 5E model.
Phase 1 What the Teacher Does That Is
Consistent with the 5E Model Inconsistent with the 5E Model
Engage Creates interest
Generates curiosity
Raises questions
Elicits responses that uncover what students know or think about the concept/subject
Explains concepts
Provides definitions and answers
States conclusions
Provides premature answers to students' questions
Explore Encourages students to work together without direct instruction from teacher
Observes and listens to students as they interact
Asks probing questions to redirect students' investigations when necessary
Provides time for students to puzzle through problems
Acts as a consultant for students
Provides answers
Tells or explains how to work through the problem
Tells students they are wrong
Gives information or facts that solve the problem
Leads students step-by-step to a solution
Explain Encourages students to explain concepts and definitions in their own words
Asks for justification (evidence) and clarification from students
Formally provides definitions, explanations, and new labels
Uses students' previous experiences as the basis for explaining concepts
Accepts explanations that have no justification
Neglects to solicit students' explanations
Introduces unrelated concepts or skills
Elaborate Expects students to use formal labels, definitions, and explanations provided previously
Encourages students to apply or extend concepts and skills in new situations
Reminds students of alternative explanations
Refers students to existing data and evidence and asks, "What do you already know?" "Why do you think . . . ?"
Provides definitive answers
Tells students they are wrong
Leads students step-by-step to a solution
Explains how to work through the problem
Evaluate Observes students as they apply new concepts and skills
Assesses students' knowledge and/or skills
Looks for evidence that students have changed their thinking or behaviors
Allows students to assess their own learning and group-process skills
Asks open-ended questions, such as, "Why do you think . . . ?" "What evidence do you have?" "What do you know about x?" "How would you explain x?"
Tests vocabulary words, terms, and isolated facts
Introduces new ideas or concepts
Creates ambiguity
Promotes open-ended discussion unrelated to concept or skill

Activity 1, Alike, But Not the Same, serves as the Engage phase of instruction for the students. This phase initiates the learning sequence and introduces the major topic to be studied. Its primary purpose is to capture the students' attention and interest. The activity is designed to make connections between past and present learning experiences and to anticipate upcoming activities. By completing it, students should become mentally engaged in the topic of human genetic variation and should begin to think about how it relates to their previous experiences. Successful engagement results in students who are intrigued by the concepts they are about to study in depth.

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