, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 127-137

Intuitive ideas and scientific explanations as parts of students' developing understanding of biology: The case of evolution

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Questions concerning 13–16 year old students' developing understanding of different biological concepts related to the theory of evolution of species are focused. The aim is to get more detailed examples of the ways in which students understand complex biological concepts and the development of these concepts. Data were collected from two different periods: at the beginning of the seventh and at the end of the ninth grade of the Swedish compulsory school. The examples given show how students, in various ways, construct and develop their understanding of animal and plant adaptation to nature, with the help of their biological knowledge as well as by alternative and more intuitive ideas about the function of nature. The varying abilities of students to express their ideas are discussed as well as different arguments concerning the student's difficulties in adapting to scientific ideas from more intuitive ideas.

The study presented here was financed by the Swedish National Board of Education.