A coral reef as an analogical model to promote collaborative learning on cultural & ethnic diversity in science.
Merriam-Webster defines diversity as "the condition of being diverse [variety]" (Merriam-Webster Online, 2006). However the word diversity has a more specific meaning that is dependent upon the context in which it is used, scientifically or culturally. For example, Biology-Online.org defines biological diversity in terms of ecology as "the number and variety of species present in an area and their spatial distribution" and cultural diversity as the "coexistence of numerous distinct ethnic, racial, religious, or cultural groups." In conversation, in the workplace, and in many official documents, diversity often compasses class, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, or the physical and mental ability of an individual (Wheeler et al., 1999).
Students often draw on past or related experiences to help them interpret new concepts. Through the use of analogs, learners are able to make certain assumptions which they use to help them understand new concepts (Goswami, 1991). In this situation, "something familiar stands in for something unfamiliar" (Petrosino, 2003). Analogy is also used in various situations involving deductive and inductive reasoning (Sowa & Majumdar, 2003). It is important to remember, however, that there is a risk that certain analogies or models may lead to student misconceptions (Frazier, 2002; Goswami, 1991). Thus, careful selection and discussion of analogies is important.
Biological Diversity Exercise
We have noted that first semester college science students often fail to realize that individual scholarship is an intricate component of global scholarship, and that scientific advancements represent the scholarly contributions of many different individuals. In an effort to engage these students in critical thinking and active conversation about gender, diversity and ethnicity in science, a two-pronged approach was taken which used a naturally-occurring ecosystem, a coral reef, together with scientific biographical and historical references (Figure 1). This novel pedagogical approach also facilitates certain elements of student reasoning such as the consideration of multiple view points (Swartz & Swartz, 1983), synthesis of new ideas, and application and integration of knowledge (Wolcott & Gray, 2003; Foundation for Critical Thinking, 1996).
Figure 1. some examples of biographies, historical chronologies, and handbooks. Asimov, I. (1982). Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology: The Lives and Achievements of 1195 Great Scientists from Ancient Times to the Present Chronologically Arranged. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. Asimov, I. (1989). Asimov's Chronology of Science and Discovery. New York, NY: Harper & Row. Bailey, M.J. (1994). American Women in Science: A Biographical Dictionary. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. Bailey, M.J. (1998). American Women in Science: 1950 to the Present: A Biographical Dictionary. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. Carney, J. E. (2001). Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Franck, I.M. & Brownstone, D.M. (1998). Wilson Chronology of Women's Achievements from Ancient Times to Present. New York, NY: H.W. Wilson. Hellemans, A. (1988). Timetables of Science: A Chronology of the Most Important People and Events in the History of Science. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. Lyon, W.S. (1998). Encyclopedia of Native American Shamanism Sacred Ceremonies of North American. Santa Barbara, CA: ABCCLIO. Luck, S. (1999). International Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Mellersh, H.E.L. (1999). Chronology of World History 1901-1998: The Modern World, Vol. 4. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. Mellersh, H.E.L. (1999). Chronology of World History: The Ancient and Medieval World, Prehistory-AD1491, Vol. 1. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. Mellersh, H.E.L. (1999). Chronology of World History: The Changing World & Expansion 1770-1990, Vol. 3. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. Mellersh, H.E.L. (1999). Chronology of World History: 1492-1775: The Expanding World, Vol. 2. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. Ogilvie, M.B. (1986). Women in Science: Antiquity Through the Nineteenth Century: A Biographical Dictionary with Annotated Bibliography. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Proffitt, P. (1999). Notable Women Scientists. Detroit, MI: Gale Group. Sammons, V.O. (1990). Blacks in Science and Medicine. New York, NY: Hemisphere Publishing Corp. Schlessinger, B.S. (1996). Who's Who of Nobel Prize Winners, 19011995. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press. Selin, H. (Ed.). (1997). Encyclopedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Dordrecht; Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic. Shearer, B.F. (1997). Notable Women in the Physical Sciences: A Biographical Dictionary. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Storey, R.L. & Williams, N. (General Eds). (1973). Chronology of the Medieval World: 800 to 1491. New York, NY: D. McKay, Co. Trager, J. (1992). People's Chronology: A Year-By-Year Record of Human Events from Prehistory to the Present. New York, NY: H. Holt. Volti, R. (1999). Facts on File Encyclopedia of Science, Technology and Society. New York, NY: Facts on File. Webster, R.B. (1999). African American Firsts in Science & Technology. Detroit, MI: Gale Group.
Before beginning the activity each student was randomly assigned a number that was entered on all collected materials. Next, the student's reasoning regarding diversity in the context of science was assessed by asking him/her to respond to the question: "What does diversity in the context of science mean to you?" The majority of students tended to show bias in their answers, which may be a reflection of how they have historically discussed diversity in other science classes. Typical of the individual responses were "Diversity in science means the different fields of science. It is having a firm hold on all kinds of science and being able to link them to other fields rather than just knowing about one particular field" or "differences in the ecosystem (animals, plants ...)--a wide variety of organisms, all different from each other in some way." After collecting the individual responses, the class was randomly divided into groups of four to six students. Each group was asked to synthesize a response to the same question. Since the group responses showed little variation from the individual responses, it was apparent that, even collectively, most students failed to recognize diversity in science as it relates to culture, race, ethnicity, and gender.
To facilitate class discussion on the topic of diversity, the students were given a collage of a coral reef. Following the same protocol, students first studied the collage individually and then moved into their assigned group. The reef was chosen for its visual impact and because it is an excellent model of diversity. It is a living system that many students have been exposed to through direct observation or media presentations. The collage consisted of seven pictures highlighting various aspects of life on a reef including different types of coral, fish, sea urchins, potential predator prey interactions, and a symbiotic relationship between a moray eel and a cleaner wrasse. After several minutes of studying the collage as individuals, the students were asked to describe what they saw. Most listed specific observations such as salt water, fish, coral, colors, and light. Somewhat surprisingly, they made no reference to the biological diversity that they described in their response to the initial question. To refocus the discussion on diversity specifically, a set of seven talking points was introduced. The students were asked as a group to take a fresh look at the collage and respond to each talking point. Some groups simply paraphrased the talking point, but others provided more complex answers reflective of a group activity. The facilitator then provided applications to the reef and to science (Table 1).
Cultural Diversity Exercise
Having engaged students in an analytical exercise in the exploration in biological diversity, the base, the next step involved migrating to the discovery of ideas and developments contributing to the medical sciences in the context of the global scholarly community, the target (Gentner, 1983). While remaining in their respective groups, students were provided library resources to enable the development of a chronology of significant contributions and practices in the field of medicine, and the identification of historical and contemporary scholars and practitioners by race, cultural heritage, and gender. The collective work of each group was noted on a whiteboard, running the full length of the classroom, to visually exemplify global scholarship over time.
The success of this innovative approach relied upon introducing an awareness of multiculturalism as well as the significant work of women, which contributed to the development of the medical sciences and required the identification of appropriate subject headings from prehistory to the present (Figure 2). Additional library materials consisted of general biographical references and historical chronologies with emphasis on the pure and applied sciences, while focusing special attention on works targeting those of minorities and women (Figure 1). Further consideration was given to works in technology for the purposes of including interdisciplinary contributions to the medical sciences. When combined, these resources facilitated elements of reasoning such as inference, implications, points of view, synthesis, and purpose by providing personal data, facts, observations, and experiences.
Figure 2. some examples of library subject headings. African American Scientists Chronology Historical Medicine Developing countries History Encyclopedias Science Developing countries History Encyclopedias Science History chronology tables Scientists Dictionaries Technology Developing countries History Encyclopedias Women Mathematicians' Biography Women Physical Scientists Biography Women Scientists Women Scientists Biography Encyclopedias
Each student received a unique reference work, and each group was then assigned responsibility for reviewing specific time periods in history: Prehistory to 799 AD; Medieval World 800-1491; Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620; Changing World and Expansion 1770-1990; Modern World 1901-1946; and Post WWII to the present including Nobel Prize recipients (Figure 2). Each team member was asked to identify a different scientist or ethnic group within the given time period, and to provide the name, race, nationality, ethnicity, significant contribution and date, and source of the information. In order to facilitate student assumptions and observations, definitions from both a biological and sociological point of view for race and ethnicity were written on the whiteboard (Kuper & Kuper, 1996, pp. 260-261, 712; Oxford Dictionary, 2000, p. 444). As the vital statistics were acquired and written on the whiteboard, teams were instructed to conclude the exercise by indicating what they considered to be the most significant contribution or development to the medical sciences for their assigned time period. The time line activity concludes with each team reporting its collaborative findings to the class and submitting its individual findings for a participatory grade (Figure 3--Rubric).
To determine if the exercise had an impact, each student was asked to again respond to the question "What does diversity mean in the context of science?" Before writing a response, students were told that if their views had not changed they should indicate that in their answer. Although some of the students continued to hold onto their first response, some student viewpoints did change significantly. One student's initial response was "I think diversity in science means the different fields." His final response was "Diversity in science still means the same thing to me, but I also see a new point to diversity-diversity also means the different times, places, people, races, etc. that contributed to science." This particular response indicated to us that the activity can have an impact and that student perspectives on diversity can be broadened.
Some Final Thoughts
From the beginning of time mankind, by virtue of cognitive abilities, has contributed to the advancement of science and technology as evident from the discovery and preservation of ancient artifacts. Although the first mechanical manipulation of the environment occurred over two million years ago when tools were made by African Hominids (Hellemans & Bunch, 1988, p. 5), science based upon observation, formal study, and experimentation did not occur until almost 600 BC during the time of the Ionian Greek philosophers (Hellemans & Bunch, 1988, p. 1). Since that time many cultures, ethnic groups, females, and males have contributed to the advancement of science (Hellemans & Bunch, 1988; Helaine, 1997; Ogilvie, 1986).
[FIGURE 3 OMITTED]
Drawing a parallel between interactions of scientists and reef organisms is a novel way to engage students in critical thinking and active conversation about cultural diversity within the context of science education, and the multiple interactions that occur within the global scientific community (Wheeler et al., 1999). This model also provides a mechanism to address the comment that "teachers must encourage the majority culture to recognize that the contributions of minority cultures are essential for the well-being of a democratic society" (Abdi, 1997).
The authors wish to thank Dr. Joseph Kuczkowski, Emeritus Associate Dean, School of Science, for helpful suggestions. This work was conducted under IUPUI Institutional Review Board Protocol Number 0402-52B.
Abdi, S.W. (1997, Feb.). Multicultural teaching tips: Practical suggestions for incorporating the diverse history of science into the classroom. Science Teacher, 64(2), 34-37.
Bodi, S. (1988). Critical thinking and bibliographic instruction: The relationship. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 14(3), 150-153.
Biology-Online.org. (2005). Biology-Online.org retrieved August 11, 2006, from Biology-Online.org at: http://www.biology-online. org/dictionary/Diversity.
Bryon, S. (1993, fall). Cooperative learning for empowering library instruction. TLA Library Instruction Newsletter, 3.
Byron, S. (1994, June 24). Integrating active learning into library instruction: practical information for immediate use. Workshop sponsored by the Association of College and Research Libraries/ Bibliographic Instruction Section Preconference. Miami, Florida.
Byron, S. (1998). Information seeking in a virtual learning environment. Doctoral dissertation. University of North Texas, 1999. Dissertation Abstracts International, No. AAI9987941.
Foundation for Critical Thinking. (1996, winter/spring). Critical Thinking Workshop Handbook. Santa Rosa, CA.
Frazier, R. (2002). Rethinking Models. National Science Teacher Association: WebNews Digest.
Gentner, D. (1983) Structure-mapping: A theoretical framework for analogy. Cognitive Science, 7, 155-170.
Goswami, U. (1991). Analogical reasoning: What develops? A review of research and theory. Child Development, 63, 1-22.
Hardesty, L. (1993). Working with classroom faculty: A panel discussion. In L. Hardesty, J. Hastreiter, & D. Henderson, (Eds.), Bibliographic Instruction in Practice: A Tribute to the Legacy of Evan Ira Farber. 5th Earlham College - Eckerd College Bibliographic Instruction Conference February 5-7, 1992. Ann Arbor, MI: Pierian Press.
Helaine, S. (Ed.). (1997). Encyclopedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Hellemans, A. & Bunch, R. (1988). The Timetables of Science. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Ogilvie, M.B. (1986). Women in Science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Kuper, A. & Kuper, J. (Eds.). (1996). The Social Science Encyclopedia (pp. 260 1, 712). New York, NY: Rutledge.
Lynch, C.L. & Wolcott, S.K. (2001, October). Idea paper #37: Helping your students develop critical thinking skills. Idea Center. Manhattan, KS: The Idea Center.
Merriam-Webster. (2006). Merriam-Webster. Retrieved August 11, 2006, from Merriam Webster Online at: http://www.m-w.com/ dictionary/diversity.
Meyers, C. & Jones, T.B. (1993). Promoting Active Learning: Strategies for the College Classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Basse.
National Science Education Standards (p. 222). (1996). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Oxford Dictionary of Biology, 4th Ed (pp. 502 & 444). (2000). Oxford, England: University Press.
Petrosino, A.J. (2003). Commentary: A framework for supporting learning and teaching about mathematical and scientific models. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 3(3). Available online at: http://www.citejournal.org/vol3/ iss3/maintoc.cfm.
Press, Steen, E.B. (1971). Dictionary of Biology. New York, NY: Barnes& Noble.
Sowa, J.F. & Majumdar, A.K. (2003). Analogical reasoning. In A. de Moor, W. Lex & B. Ganter (Eds.), Conceptual Structures for Knowledge Creation and Communication, Vol. 2746 (pp. 16-36). Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Conceptual Structures. Berlin, Germany: Springer.
Stoffle, C.J. (1998, December). Literacy 101 for the digital age. American Libraries, 45, 47-48.
Swartz, C. & Swartz, B. (1983). Editorial: perspective. Physics Teacher, 21(9), 596.
Wheeler, E.A., Ayers, J.F., Fracasso, M.P., Galupo, M.P., Rabin, J.S. & Slater, B.R. (1999). Approaches to modeling diversity in the college classroom: Challenges and strategies. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 10(2), 79-93.
Wolcott, S.K. & Gray, C. (2003, November 2). Assessing and developing critical thinking skills. Workshop presented at the Meeting of the 2003 Assessment Institute, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana.
ROBERT W. YOST (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Senior Lecturer, Department of Biology, and Adjunct Associate Professor of Education, Department of Biology, and EDWARD L. F. GONZALEZ (email@example.com) is Associate Librarian, University Library, Adjunct University College, Liaison Librarian Center for Research & Learning, and Director of Summer Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program; both at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN 46202.
Table 1. Student and facilitator responses to talking points on diversity. Representative Application to Application Group Response the Reef to science Talking point (Students) (Facilitator) (Facilitator) Does anything There is a Interactions Interactions suggest harmony harmonious between the occur between and balance are balance between various scientists and occurring? the fish, the organisms are laboratories living reef, required to via meetings, and the maintain peer surrounding stability and interactions, environment. balance; there and may be keystone publications; species, peer review dominant and scientific species, and method provide symbiotic checks and relationships. balances. Survival of the The reef must Species Science entire system have different diversity is survives as depends upon species to important to a result of contributions survive because maintaining contributions of many of the food vitality. from different different chain needed races, individuals. to exist. cultures, religions, and genders. A living system Yes, depend on Death Breadth and depends upon each other, occurs when depth in the success and but live individuals science occurs well being of independently. contributing when multiple individuals in to the overall ideas and a community. health of the theories are system are lost put forth by or when overall a variety of species individuals. diversity decreases. Systems do not No, they do Pollution, Things outside exist in not. People and storms, global the direct isolation from the weather can warming and realm of the environment have influence silt deposits science, such and outside on the reef, have as the Dark influences. e.g., oil significant Ages, plagues, spills, etc. impact on reef wars, money, health and and stability. competition, cultural and religious beliefs can have a significant and long-lasting impact. Communities are Microscopic Some algae and Famous often viewed at level, although bacteria have scientists did the macroscopic not visible, a symbiotic not achieve level, but affects the relationship greatness on much is also reef community with cnidarians their own. occurring at as a whole. building the Scientists rely the microscopic coral; things upon many and basic dissolved in different levels of the the water individuals system. (water quality) including other can destroy the scientists, reef. laboratory workers, clerical help, and janitorial personnel. Communities Plants/animals Healthy reefs Knowledge base continue to die, continue to is constantly grow and regenerate. grow as new growing. In 50 change. calcium years, have carbonate is gone from added to the knowing that reef. Species DNA was in diversity and a cell to population understanding number may individual change over genes. time and with the seasons. Under some Pollution, Predators may On rare circumstances earthquakes, invade and occasions the health and volcanoes, destroy the unethical integrity of a excess species species conduct may community may population. balance. occur. be compromised Modulation may Scientific and recovery occur, but community may or may not severe changes responds and occur. may cause corrects the system to die. problem.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||INQUIRY & INVESTIGATION|
|Author:||Yost, Robert W.; Gonzalez, Edward L.F.|
|Publication:||The American Biology Teacher|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2008|
|Previous Article:||Using a guided inquiry approach in the traditional vertebrate anatomy laboratory.|
|Next Article:||Take a trip to the biobank.|