ISSN 1087-3430 Vol. 10 - No. 3 - March 2006
Thank you for your interest in the Electronic Journal of Science Education, the first electronic journal of its kind devoted to the timely sharing of science education issues via the World Wide Web. The editors and review board hope you find the enclosed articles academically and professionally valuable.
John R. Cannon, Editor and Publisher
David T. Crowther, Associate Editor and Publisher
University of Nevada, Reno
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Conceptions of Germs: Expert to Novice Understandings of Microorganisms
byM. Gail Jones
North Carolina State University
andMelissa J. Rua
This study describes 5th, 8th, and 11th-grade students', teachers', and medical professionals' conceptions of microorganisms. Participants constructed drawings of 2 different types of "germs" and participated in a semi-structured interview designed to elicit understandings of microbe morphology, characteristics, and types. The findings showed students, teachers and medical professionals possess different understandings of bacteria and viruses. These understandings ranged from the novice (elementary, middle, and high school students and teachers) to more expert conceptions (high school teachers and medical professionals). Participants held incomplete knowledge for: (a) microbe characteristics, (b) where microbes are found, (c) differences that exist between bacteria and viruses, and (d) the role of microbes in the environment. The youngest students drew heavily upon personal experiences and media representations for sources of their knowledge rather than formal instruction. Students tended to view microbes as a human problem rather than seeing microorganisms as an independent member of the ecosystem. Teachers' explanations concepts of microbes varied in explicitness based on the grade level they taught while medical professionals based their understandings on technical, formal knowledge.
Special Section: Resources and Programs in Higher Education
compiled by David T. Crowther, Associate Editor, EJSE
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