How to make the learning of photosynthesis more relevant

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Following a study of Israeli students’ difficulties in understanding photosynthesis, we developed a new approach to the teaching of the subject. We believe that teaching should begin with information matching that of children's intuitive conceptions which are supportive of the accepted scientific explanations, then building logically on this. We organize the content and teaching in such a way as to change pre‐existing misconceptions and to prevent the formation of misconceptions during learning. We intentionally ignore facts we consider inessential for the general understanding of the ecosystem, and concentrate on the main ideas: the existence of an ecosystem; its physical and biotic environments; their mutual relationship and cyclicity. The study reported in this paper aimed to find out how our approach affected students’ concepts of photosynthesis. Results indicated that students taught by the new approach scored significantly better than those otherwise taught. The approach, related to both content and teaching methods, which takes misconceptions into consideration, can be both more relevant and effective as regards the understanding of photosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-125
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993


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