Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education (Sep 2021)

Student Association of Lecture Content with the Five Core Concepts of Biology: Novel Results from an Introductory Biology Course

  • Kyriaki Chatzikyriakidou,
  • Marie-Janelle Tacloban,
  • Kassandra Concepcion,
  • John Geiger,
  • Melissa McCartney

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 22, no. 2


Read online

ABSTRACT Challenges in integration of concepts persist among undergraduate biology students. The 5 core concepts (5CCs) of biology presented in Vision and Change provide a comprehensive, concept-based description of the knowledge of biology, summarized in five main biological scales and five overarching principles that dictate natural biological phenomena and processes. The goal of this study was to collect information on students’ interpretations of three introductory biology topics, (i) aquaporins, (ii) aerobic respiration, and (iii) DNA transcription, while associating their knowledge of these topics with the 5CCs. During three separate exam review sessions, students of a conventional lecture-based introductory biology class were asked to provide short responses of how each of the 5CCs related to the given class topic. An inductive coding analysis of student responses was performed to reveal the main connections students made between each of the three topics and the 5CCs. We found that for some core concepts it was easier for students to draw connections to a simple topic, such as aquaporins, while for other core concepts it was easier to draw connections to a multistep phenomenon, such as aerobic respiration. Although student connections were simple associations between a CC and a class topic, exploratory studies such as this one can be an important step toward designing teaching practices that are aligned with Vision and Change recommendations and could advance student conceptual understanding and integration of biological knowledge.