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  • 1.
    Flodin, Veronica
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
    Epistemisk drift: Genbegreppets rörelser i några av forskningens och undervisningens texter i biologi2011Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The overall aim of this paper is to promote understanding of the relationship between the knowledge produced in research in biology and the knowledge that is then to be taught in courses at the university. The work in this thesis is limited to that part of research and teaching that use of scientific concepts in texts, and what meanings the uses are leading to. The work is based on two studies.

    The first study demonstrated that in a single, widely used textbook in Biology, one can find (at least) five different meanings of the gene concept used. What is interesting is that these different meanings can be associated with the emergence of different biological disciplines. It may seem obvious when you see it as a result, but the fact is that the gene concept is not defined as context-dependent. This should in turn lead to that an understanding of the gene concept is made more difficult because the meaning varies with context, and moreover, different meanings are mixed in the same context. The learning problems that earlier studies have shown may in this case be based on a content problem. That is, the content itself is vague and unclear.

    The second study is a case study of the use of the gene concept in five scientific papers. Different meanings of the gene concept are to be found in the same way as the first study argues for in a textbook in Biology. But also new categories are described. In the textbook the different meanings were attached to various sub-disciplines. In the scientific articles the new categories are linked to different knowledge projects. The gene and the gene concept perform different functions in relation to research problems, issues and methods. You could say that various aspects of the gene are used in different knowledge projects. But both the previously categorized meanings and new categories are used in a mingle way. The mixture is proposed to occur because the knowledge about genes does not disappear but survives and is used side by side with newly developed knowledge, which leads to a gene concept that is exposed to an epistemic drift.

    The transformation of content between research and textbook is then discussed from the results of the study 1 and study 2 in terms of recontextualization. When the content is "transformed" to the textbook, there are variations of the gene concept left, but not the scientific context in terms of questions and methods. The different ways to knowing about genes exist mixed in research texts, but the researchers are proposed to use their discipline-based knowledge to deduce the relationships. This could mean that what appears to be fuzzy, mixed and unclear to an outsider, is not to a specialist who works in the current practice.

  • 2.
    Flodin, Veronica S.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
    A Brief History of the Gene Concept: Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Staffan Müller-Willie (2017) The Gene: from Genetics to Postgenomics. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago2019In: Science & Education, ISSN 0926-7220, E-ISSN 1573-1901, Vol. 28, no 1-2, p. 183-187Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 3.
    Flodin, Veronica S.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
    Characterisation of the Context-Dependence of the Gene Concept in Research Articles: Possible Consequences for Teaching Concepts with Multiple Meanings2017In: Science & Education, ISSN 0926-7220, E-ISSN 1573-1901, Vol. 26, no 1, p. 141-170Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

  • 4.
    Flodin, Veronica S.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
    Dealing with a Learning Problem in Genetics: “Mendel as the Enemy of Genetics no. 1”2018In: Future Educational Challenges from Science and Technology Perspectives: XVIII IOSTE Symposium Book of Proceeding / [ed] Anna Jobér, Maria Andrée, Malin Ideland, Malmö: Malmö University , 2018, p. 106-112Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The traditional lecture, where a lecturer presents, summarize, explain etc. the course content, is a common practice in biology higher education. The purpose of this study is therefore the possibility of the lecture as a mean to deal with a central learning problem in genetics. An experienced teacher and researcher sees a learning problem in the gap between scientific development concerning genomes and the more simple "one gene - one phenotype" relation and laws of inheritance, founded by Mendel. The question is how the lecturer tries to overcome the learning problem as part of the content structure of the lecture in a fruitful way. The study is inspired by lesson study in its arrangement. The lecturer tests his lecture structure on two different student groups in an iterative way with reflections in between. The focused learning problem is tested in the final exam and the results from both student groups are compared. Despite the elaborated structural changes in the lectures, the majority of students do not pass the question about how gene complexity is involved in phenotypic changes. The results bids a discussion about how we create learning problems and how to abandon Mendelian genetics and conventional presentations of content.

  • 5.
    Flodin, Veronica S.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
    Didaktisk analys av ett integrativt forskningsprojekt i biologi: möten mellan olika kunskapsformerManuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
  • 6.
    Flodin, Veronica S.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
    En didaktisk studie av kunskapsinnehåll i biologi på universitetet: Med genbegreppet som exempel2015Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This thesis is about knowing in biology in higher education and research. The gene concept is used as an example of knowledge content that is common to both biological research and education. The purpose is to study how knowing about the gene is expressed in different forms of knowledge contexts at the university. This is important to study in order to understand documented learning problems regarding the gene concept but also to better understand the relation between knowledge in research and teaching. Knowledge has to be transformed to become an educational content, a process that is of special interest within the field of Didaktik. The thesis is based on three qualitative case studies. Study I is an analysis of a textbook in biology. The purpose is to examine the content as presented to the students to see how its structure may contribute to the problems students have. How does the gene concept function as a scientific representation and at the same time as an object for learning in a biology college textbook? A phenomenographic approach is used to study implicit variation in gene concept use when the textbook treats different sub disciplines. The results show conceptual differences between them. The different categories of the gene found–as a trait, an information structure, an actor in the cell, a regulator in embryonic development or as a marker for evolutionary change–mean that we deal with different phenomena. The gene as an object is ascribed different functions and furthermore these functions are intermingled in the textbook. Since, in the textbook, these conceptual differences are not articulated, they likely are a source of confusion when learning about genes. Study II examines the gene concept use in a scientific context, as exemplified by five research articles from a scientific journal. Using an adaptation of Hirst’s criteria for forms of knowledge, the study characterizes how the scientific contexts for the gene concept use vary. What kinds of different gene concept use in these contexts can be discerned? When comparing the articles, it becomes evident that the gene concept is used to answer different kinds of questions. The meanings of the gene concept are connected to various knowledge projects, their purposes and the methods used. Shifts of methodologies and questions entail a concept that escapes single definitions and “slides around” in meanings. These contextual transformations and associated content leaps are here referred to as epistemic drift. Study III follows an integrative research project in biology.  What are the characteristic content conditions for knowledge development? What different ways in using the gene concept can be distinguished? By using the analytic methodology developed in study II, the scientific contexts are categorized according to their knowledge project, methods used and conceptual contexts. The results show that the gene concept meanings and the content vary in focus, are more or less explicitly formulated, or possible to formulate, and consist of different skills. One didactic conclusion is that by being more overt about the conditions for problem solving within a specific subdisciplin (i.e. fruitful questions to ask, knowledge needed to answer them, and methods available), students may be given opportunities to get a broader perspective on what it means to know biology.

  • 7.
    Flodin, Veronica S.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
    Epistemic drift of the gene concept in genetics research articles: Possible consequences for teaching concepts with multiple meaningsManuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
  • 8.
    Flodin, Veronica S.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Molecular Biology and Functional Genomics.
    The Necessity of Making Visible Concepts with Multiple Meanings in Science Education: The Use of the Gene Concept in a Biology Textbook2009In: Science & Education, ISSN 0926-7220, E-ISSN 1573-1901, Vol. 18, no 1, p. 73-94Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The purpose of this study is to analyze variations in how the gene concept is used and conceived in different sub-disciplines in biology. An examination of the development of subject matter and the use of the gene concept in a common college biology textbook shows that the gene concept is far from presented in a consistent way. The study describes and categorizes five different gene concepts used in the textbook; the gene as a trait, an information-structure, an actor, a regulator and a marker. These conceptual differences are not dealt with in an explicit manner. This constitutes one of the sources for confusion when learning about genes and genetics.

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