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CBE Life Sci Educ. 2015 Mar 2;14(1):ar8. doi: 10.1187/cbe.14-06-0094.

Relations between intuitive biological thinking and biological misconceptions in biology majors and nonmajors.

Author information

1
*Department of Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115-5000 j.coley@neu.edu.
2
Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA 94132.

Abstract

Research and theory development in cognitive psychology and science education research remain largely isolated. Biology education researchers have documented persistent scientifically inaccurate ideas, often termed misconceptions, among biology students across biological domains. In parallel, cognitive and developmental psychologists have described intuitive conceptual systems--teleological, essentialist, and anthropocentric thinking--that humans use to reason about biology. We hypothesize that seemingly unrelated biological misconceptions may have common origins in these intuitive ways of knowing, termed cognitive construals. We presented 137 undergraduate biology majors and nonmajors with six biological misconceptions. They indicated their agreement with each statement, and explained their rationale for their response. Results indicate frequent agreement with misconceptions, and frequent use of construal-based reasoning among both biology majors and nonmajors in their written explanations. Moreover, results also show associations between specific construals and the misconceptions hypothesized to arise from those construals. Strikingly, such associations were stronger among biology majors than nonmajors. These results demonstrate important linkages between intuitive ways of thinking and misconceptions in discipline-based reasoning, and raise questions about the origins, persistence, and generality of relations between intuitive reasoning and biological misconceptions.

PMID:
25713093
PMCID:
PMC4353083
DOI:
10.1187/cbe.14-06-0094
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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