Results from a Pilot Study of a Curriculum Unit Designed to
Help Middle School Students Understand Chemical Reactions in Living Systems

Cari F. Herrmann-Abell, Jean C. Flanagan, and Jo Ellen Roseman
AAAS / Project 2061

Proposal submitted to the
2012 NARST Annual International Conference
Indianapolis, IN
March 25 – 28, 2012


Students often have trouble understanding key biology ideas because they lack an understanding of foundational chemistry ideas.  We are collaborating in the development a four-week curriculum unit that connects core chemistry and biochemistry ideas in order to help eighth grade students build the conceptual foundation needed for high school biology.  The unit is designed to engage students in (a) observing phenomena that are explicitly aligned to the targeted ideas and selected to address common learning difficulties and (b) using models to help them interpret the phenomena in light of the targeted ideas.  The unit was pilot tested with students from an urban school and a suburban school in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. at the end of or just after eighth grade.  A multiple choice pre-/posttest was used to measure the change in students’ understanding.  Overall, the students at both schools made statistically significant gains in their performance on the items testing for the targeted chemistry and biochemistry ideas and appeared to hold fewer misconceptions, suggesting that the unit being developed has promise.

Return to This Just In… from the March 2012 issue of 2061 Connections