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Fortsch, Christian; Dorfner, Tobias; Baumgartner, Julia; Werner, Sonja; Kotzebue, Lena von; Neuhaus, Birgit J. (2020): Fostering Students' Conceptual Knowledge in Biology in the Context of German National Education Standards. In: Research in Science Education, Vol. 50, No. 2: pp. 739-771
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Abstract

The German National Education Standards (NES) for biology were introduced in 2005. The content part of the NES emphasizes fostering conceptual knowledge. However, there are hardly any indications of what such an instructional implementation could look like. We introduce a theoretical framework of an instructional approach to foster students' conceptual knowledge as demanded in the NES (Fostering Conceptual Knowledge) including instructional practices derived from research on single core ideas, general psychological theories, and biology-specific features of instructional quality. First, we aimed to develop a rating manual, which is based on this theoretical framework. Second, we wanted to describe current German biology instruction according to this approach and to quantitatively analyze its effectiveness. And third, we aimed to provide qualitative examples of this approach to triangulate our findings. In a first step, we developed a theoretically devised rating manual to measure Fostering Conceptual Knowledge in videotaped lessons. Data for quantitative analysis included 81 videotaped biology lessons of 28 biology teachers from different German secondary schools. Six hundred forty students completed a questionnaire on their situational interest after each lesson and an achievement test. Results from multilevel modeling showed significant positive effects of Fostering Conceptual Knowledge on students' achievement and situational interest. For qualitative analysis, we contrasted instruction of four teachers, two with high and two with low student achievement and situational interest using the qualitative method of thematic analysis. Qualitative analysis revealed five main characteristics describing Fostering Conceptual Knowledge. Therefore, implementing Fostering Conceptual Knowledge in biology instruction seems promising. Examples of how to implement Fostering Conceptual Knowledge in instruction are shown and discussed.