The effects of the SUN project on teacher knowledge and self-efficacy regarding biological energy transfer are significant and long-lasting: results of a randomized controlled trial Academic Article uri icon

publication date

  • 2013

abstract

  • Biological energy flow has been notoriously difficult to teach. Our approach to this topic relies on abiotic and biotic examples of the energy released by moving electrons in thermodynamically spontaneous reactions. A series of analogical model-building experiences was supported with common language and representations including manipulatives. These materials were designed to help learners understand why electrons move in a hydrogen explosion and hydrogen fuel cell, so they could ultimately understand the rationale for energy transfer in the mitochondrion and the chloroplast. High school biology teachers attended a 2-wk Students Understanding eNergy (SUN) workshop during a randomized controlled trial. These treatment group teachers then took hydrogen fuel cells, manipulatives, and other materials into their regular biology classrooms. In this paper, we report significant gains in teacher knowledge and self-efficacy regarding biological energy transfer in the treatment group versus randomized controls. Significant effects on treatment group teacher knowledge and self-efficacy were found not only post-SUN workshop but even 1¬†yr later. Teacher knowledge was measured with both a multiple-choice exam and a drawing with a written explanation. Teacher confidence in their ability to teach biological energy transfer was measured by a modified form of the Science Teaching Efficacy Belief Instrument, In-Service A. Professional development implications regarding this topic are discussed.