First Advisor

Melissa Potter

Date of Publication

Fall 12-10-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) in General Science


Science Teaching




Learning -- Study and teaching (Middle school) -- Evaluation, Curriculum-based assessment -- Study and teaching (Middle school) -- Evaluation, Biology -- Study and teaching (Middle school) -- Evaluation, Genetics -- Study and teaching (Middle school)



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 40 pages)


This study documented the changes in understanding a class of eighth grade high school-level biology students experienced through a biology unit introducing genetics. Learning profiles for 55 students were created using concept maps and interviews as qualitative and quantitative instruments. The study provides additional support to the theory of learning progressions called for by experts in the field. The students' learning profiles were assessed to determine the alignment with a researcher-developed learning profile. The researcher-developed learning profile incorporated the learning progressions published in the Next Generation Science Standards, as well as current research in learning progressions for 5-10th grade students studying genetics. Students were found to obtain understanding of the content in a manner that was nonlinear, even circuitous. This opposes the prevailing interpretation of learning progressions, that knowledge is ascertained in escalating levels of complexity. Learning progressions have implications in teaching sequence, assessment, education research, and policy. Tracking student understanding of other populations of students would augment the body of research and enhance generalizability.


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