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Characterisation of the Context-Dependence of the Gene Concept in Research Articles: Possible Consequences for Teaching Concepts with Multiple Meanings
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1722-249X
2017 (English)In: Science & Education, ISSN 0926-7220, E-ISSN 1573-1901, Vol. 26, no 1, 141-170 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this study is to interpret and qualitatively characterise the content in some research articles and evaluate cases of possible difference in meanings of the gene concept used. Using a reformulation of Hirst’s criteria of forms of knowledge, articles from five different sub-disciplines in biology (transmission genetic, molecular biology, genomics, developmental biology and population genetics) were characterised according to knowledge project, methods used and conceptual contexts. Depending on knowledge project, the gene may be used as a location of recombination, a target of regulatory proteins, a carrier of regulatory sequences, a cause in organ formation or a basis for a genetic map. Methods used range from catching wild birds and dissecting beetle larvae to growing yeast cells in 94 small wells as well as mapping of recombinants, doing statistical calculations, immunoblotting analysis of protein levels, analysis of gene expression with PCR, immunostaining of embryos and automated constructions of multi-locus linkage maps. The succeeding conceptual contexts focused around concepts as meiosis and chromosome, DNA and regulation, cell fitness and production, development and organ formation, conservation and evolution. These contextual differences lead to certain content leaps in relation to different conceptual schemes. The analysis of the various uses of the gene concept shows how differences in methodologies and questions entail a concept that escapes single definitions and “drift around” in meanings. These findings make it important to ask how science might use concepts as tools of specific inquiries and to discuss possible consequences for biology education.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 26, no 1, 141-170 p.
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-142939DOI: 10.1007/s11191-017-9879-1ISI: 000400832700009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-142939DiVA: diva2:1093653
Available from: 2017-05-08 Created: 2017-05-08 Last updated: 2017-06-26Bibliographically approved

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Flodin, Veronica S.
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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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