Course Identification

Biology module: Introduction to biology instruction

Lecturers and Teaching Assistants

Dr. Rachel Cohen

Course Schedule and Location

First Semester
Tuesday, 12:30 - 14:45, Musher, Lab 2

Field of Study, Course Type and Credit Points

Science Teaching (non thesis MSc Track): Lecture; Obligatory; Regular; 2.00 points


1st year




For students in the Rothschild-Weizmann program only

Language of Instruction


Attendance and participation


Grade Type

Numerical (out of 100)

Grade Breakdown (in %)


Evaluation Type

Final assignment

Scheduled date 1


Estimated Weekly Independent Workload (in hours)



The course will bridge between aspects of research in science education and the biology teachers' classroom practice. The courses will focus on:

  1. Teacher Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK),
  2. Constructing and using core ideas and crosscutting concepts to improve teaching and learning,
  3. Scientific inquiry and practices: Definitions and the inquiry cycle,
  4. Students' misconceptions and perceptions of students' alternative concepts,
  5. Exploring models in the biology classroom
  6. Assessment in biological teaching.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course students should be able:

  1. To bridge between aspects of research in science education and the biology teachers' classroom practice. The students' group will function as a supportive community of colleagues, by means of collaborative thinking and several stages of feedback at the meetings. Continuous assessment will be applied.

Reading List

It is required to read articles according to the progress of the course topics.  Students are expected to have completed the assigned readings prior to some lecture so that they have background appropriate for class discussion.

Essential reading


Park, S., & Chen, Y. C. (2012). Mapping out the integration of the components of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK): Examples from high school biology classrooms. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49(7), 922-941.

Core ideas and crosscutting concepts (two articles from the list)

Mitchell, I., Keast, S., Panizzon, D., & Mitchell, J. (2017). Using ‘big ideas’ to enhance teaching and student learning. Teachers and Teaching, 23(5), 596-610

Mitchell, I., & Keast, S. (2014). Constructing and using big ideas to improve teaching and learning. Unpublished manuscript, Monash University, Melbourne.

Osborne, J., Rafanelli, S., & Kind, P. (2018). Toward a more coherent model for science education than the crosscutting concepts of the next generation science standards: The affordances of styles of reasoning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 55(7), 962-981.

Rafanelli, S., & Osborne, J. (2020). How Might the Next Generation Science Standards Support Styles of Scientific Reasoning in Biology?. The American Biology Teacher, 82(9), 579-583.


Scientific inquiry and practices (two articles from the list)

Brownell, S. E., Wenderoth, M. P., Theobald, R., Okoroafor, N., Koval, M., Freeman, S., ... & Crowe, A. J. (2013). How students think about experimental design: novel conceptions revealed by in-class activities. BioScience, 64(2), 125-137.

Barrow, L. H. (2006). A brief history of inquiry: From Dewey to standards. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 17(3), 265-278.

Osborne, J. (2014). Teaching scientific practices: Meeting the challenge of change. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 25(2), 177-196.

Pedaste, M., Mäeots, M., Siiman, L. A., De Jong, T., Van Riesen, S. A., Kamp, E. T., ... & Tsourlidaki, E. (2015). Phases of inquiry-based learning: Definitions and the inquiry cycle. Educational research review, 14, 47-61.

Sadeh, I., & Zion, M. (2012). Which type of inquiry project do high school biology students prefer: Open or guided?. Research in Science Education, 42(5), 831-848.

?im?ek, P., & Kabap?nar, F. (2010). The effects of inquiry-based learning on elementary students’ conceptual understanding of matter, scientific process skills and science attitudes. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2(2), 1190-1194.


Students' misconceptions and perceptions of students' alternative concepts

Gurel, D. K., Ery?lmaz, A., & McDermott, L. C. (2015). A review and comparison of diagnostic instruments to identify students' misconceptions in science.

Machová, M., & Ehler, E. (2021). Secondary school students’ misconceptions in genetics: origins and solutions. Journal of Biological Education, 1-14.


Bryce, C. M., Baliga, V. B., De Nesnera, K. L., Fiack, D., Goetz, K., Tarjan, L. M., ... & Ash, D. (2016). Exploring models in the biology classroom. The American Biology Teacher, 78(1), 35-42.



Recommended reading

Barrett, G. W., Peles, J. D., & Odum, E. P. (1997). Transcending processes and the levels-of-organization concept. BioScience, 47(8), 531-535.

Breslyn, W., & McGinnis, J. R. (2012). A comparison of exemplary biology, chemistry, earth science, and physics teachers' conceptions and enactment of inquiry. Science Education, 96(1), 48-77.

Coley, J. D., & Tanner, K. (2015). Relations between intuitive biological thinking and biological misconceptions in biology majors and nonmajors. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 14(1), ar8.

Cooper, M. M., Caballero, M. D., Ebert-May, D., Fata-Hartley, C. L., Jardeleza, S. E., Krajcik, J. S., ... & Underwood, S. M. (2015). Challenge faculty to transform STEM learning. Science, 350(6258), 281-282.

Magnusson, S., Krajcik, J., & Borko, H. (1999). Nature, sources, and development of pedagogical content knowledge for science teaching. In Examining pedagogical content knowledge (pp. 95-132). Springer Netherlands.

Rowland, G. (2007). Towards a new biology curriculum. Journal of Biological Education, 40(3), 99-101.