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«Social Interactions and Familial Relationships Preservice Science Teachers Describe During Interviews about Their Drawings of the Endocrine and ...»

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International Journal of Environmental & Science Education

International Journal of Environmental & Science Education

(2014), 9, 159-175

Vol. 3, N o. 3, J uly 2 0 0 8, x x - x x

Social Interactions and Familial Relationships

Preservice Science Teachers Describe During

Interviews about Their Drawings of the

Endocrine and Gastrointestinal Systems

Patricia Patrick

Texas Tech University

Received 24 March 2013; Accepted 13 October 2013


This study examined preservice science teachers’ understandings of the structure and function of the human gastrointestinal and endocrine systems through drawings and interviews. Moreover, the preservice science teachers described where they thought they learned about the systems. The 142 preservice teachers were asked to draw the human gastrointestinal and endocrine systems and label the organs. Following the in class drawings, the preservice science teachers were interviewed by a classmate about the drawing, the function of the system, and where they believed they learned about the system. The study provided evidence that (1) preservice science teachers had more knowledge of the gastrointestinal system than the endocrine system; (2) the interviews yielded more information about the systems than did the drawings; (3) food was described as moving from the mouth to the anus, but absorption was not often mentioned; and (4) the prior social interactions that influenced the knowledge of the preservice science teachers were different for the gastrointestinal and endocrine systems.

Key Words: biology, drawings, organ systems, preservice science teachers, social con- structivist theory Introduction Mike (To protect the identity of participants pseudonyms are used.): “Using your drawing explain the function of the endocrine system.” Katie: “Hmm... I didn’t really draw anything. I’m not really sure exactly what it is.” Mike: “Can you tell me anything about the endocrine system?” Katie: “I’m not sure. I think it has something to do with the thyroid.” Mike: “Where did you learn about the endocrine system?” ISSN 1306-3065 Copyright © 2006-2014 by iSER, International Society of Educational Research. All Rights Reserved.

160 P. Patrick Katie: “My Dad has thyroid cancer. I think it has something to do with that…I don’t know what the endocrine system does. It might have something to do with…I don’t know. I have no idea…I think maybe hormones or something like that. I don’t know.” This is a dialog that occurred during a classmate interview between two preservice science teachers. Mike was interviewing Katie about her drawing of the endocrine system to determine her knowledge of its function.At first Katie assumed she did not know anything about the endocrine system because she could not draw the system. However, after her classmate asked her a question from the interview prompts, Katie remembered something about the endocrine system based on an interaction she had with her Dad. This interview, and others like it, led to my interest in how preservice science teachers interviewing each other might prompt them to further discuss their knowledge of the gastrointestinal and endocrine systems and to identify prior social contexts in which they learned about the systems.

Drawings have been used as a method of representing information because they motivate participants to learn more than conventional teaching (Hackling & Prain, 2005), contribute to the formulation of thinking and meaning (Brooks, 2005; Brooks 2009), and provide an individualized look at learner knowledge. Interest in the use of drawings in science learning has expanded because drawings reflect “new understandings of science as a multimodal discursive practice” (Ainsworth, Prain, & Tytler, 2011, p. 1097) and there has been “mounting evidence for its value in supporting quality learning” (p. 1097). However, previous studies have found that drawings of the human body do not provide a complete representation of the participant’s knowledge (Khwaja & Saxton, 2001; Prokop, Fancovicová, & Tunnicliffe, 2009) and do not offer a glimpse of where they have learned about the systems. These conflicting notions indicate that further research is needed to better understand the role that drawings and interviews play in identifying our knowledge of the internal anatomy of the human body and the source of that knowledge.

Additionally, drawings alone do not provide a context for where the preservice science teachers believe they learn about the systems. Therefore, in this study, drawings accompanied by interviews afforded a deeper look at the knowledge of the participants and the social interactions that shaped their knowledge. The drawings and interviews were analyzed to answer the following


1. Which gastrointestinal and endocrine organs do preservice science teachers identify when they draw the systems?

2. What are preservice science teachers’ understandings of the function of the gastrointestinal and endocrine systems?

3. Where do preservice science teachers believe they learn about the gastrointestinal and endocrine systems? Do the preservice science teachers describe social contexts?

Theoretical Framework This study employed the social constructivist theory (Vygotsky, 1978) in order to interpret preservice science teachers’ knowledge of the gastrointestinal and endocrine systems and how social interactions influenced their knowledge. The rationale for using the social constructivist theory came from the idea that science learning occurs through socially mediated experiences such as observations, conversations, and personal experiences that transpire throughout life (Bruner 1966; Lemke, 2001; Vosniadou 2001; Vygotsky 1978; Wood, Bruner, and Ross, 1976).

Social experiences provide people with an opportunity to access prior knowledge about a subject and build on that knowledge to construct a new understanding (Bruning, Schraw, & Norby, 2011). The cognitive tools perspective of the social constructivist theory is one way in which a researcher may attain an understanding of a participant’s prior knowledge. A cognitive tool allows participants to create a product, a drawing in this study, and impose meaning on the Social Interactions and Familial Relationships 161 product based on prior knowledge (Gredler, 1997). Therefore, the preservice science teachers’ knowledge of the organ systems and the social sources of development that shaped their knowledge may be assessed through drawings and interviews. The interview was important to this study because the language used in the interview was assessed to reveal any knowledge the preservice science teachers did not provide in the drawings (Anderson, 2007; Gee, 1996; Lave & Wenger, 1991) and to define if there were social interactions that the preservice teachers identified as sources of knowledge (Rogoff, 1990).

Literature Review Drawings have been touted as a way to determine the knowledge participants have of various topics in science education (Ainsworth et al., 2011; Brooks, 2005; Dempsey & Betz, 2001;

Neumann & Hopf, 2012; Reiss et al., 2002; Yörek, 2007) and understandings of the natural world (Moseley, Desjean-Perrotta & Utley, 2010; Eloranta & Yli-Panula, 2005; Yli-Panula & Eloranta, 2011). Since the mid-1900s, drawings have been used to reveal what individuals know about the internal anatomy of the human body. In 1955, Tait and Ascher developed the Inside-of-the-Body Test to ascertain the knowledge 6th graders, psychiatric patients, military candidates, and hospitalized military personnel had of the internal anatomy of the human body. Since the 1950s, several studies asked participants to draw the inside of the body. In addition to drawing the inside of the human body, participants were asked to write about their drawings (Ormancı & Ören, 2011; Carvalho, Silva, Lima, Coquet, & Clement, 2004), draw and name organs on a picture (DeLuca, 1997), draw and/or write about the functions of the body systems (Mathai & Ramadas, 2009), draw and exchange drawings and complete a partner’s drawing (Bahar, Ozel, Prokop, & Usak, 2008), draw and take an open-ended questionnaire (Prokop & Fancovicová, 2006), and draw and complete an interview (Carvalho et al., 2004; Rowlands, 2004). However, no studies were completed that asked participants to conduct classmate interviews about their drawings of the internal anatomy of the human body and describe where the participants believed they learned about the systems.

During the literature review, 10 studies were identified in which participants were asked to draw the internal anatomy of the human body. Table 1 identifies the 10 studies and the participants, methodologies, organs drawn least and most often, and organ systems drawn least and most successfully in each study. The results of the 10 studies were examined and used to (1) establish the two organ systems that would be analyzed and (2) conclude if classmate interviews were previously used as a data collection tool. Eight of the studies identified the gastrointestinal system as one of the most accurately drawn systems (Bartoszeck, Machado, & Amann-Gainotti, 2008, 2011; Reiss & Tunnicliffe, 2001; Patrick & Tunnicliffe, 2010; Reiss et al., 2002; Tait & Ascher, 1955) or reported that organs from the gastrointestinal system were correctly drawn most often (Óskarsdóttir, Stougaard, Fleischer, Jeronen, Lützen, & Kråkenes, 2011; Ozsevgec (2007).

Seven of the studies stated that the endocrine system (Patrick & Tunnicliffe, 2010; Prokop & Fanèovièová, 2006; Reiss & Tunnicliffe, 2001; Reiss et al., 2002; Tait & Ascher, 1955) and its organs (Bartoszeck et al., 2008; Ozsevgec, 2007) were drawn the least often. From the ten studies the gastrointestinal and endocrine systems were found to be the most and least often successfully drawn systems, respectively.

The majority of the studies asked participants to draw the internal anatomy, but did not include additional data gathering tools. However, in addition to drawings, participants in three studies verbally named organs (Deluca, 1997; Ozsevgec, 2007), wrote about the drawings (Ozsevgec, 2007), and completed a questionnaire (Prokop & Fancovicová, 2006). Óskarsdóttir et al. (2011) utilized interviews as a data collection tool, but the interviewees were chosen based on whether or not their drawings were interesting, which indicated they did not interview all of the participants.

162 P. Patrick

–  –  –

The benefit of employing interviews in conjunction with drawings was of interest, because the literature review suggested that when multiple data gathering tools were utilized a richer understanding of participant knowledge was established (Mathai & Ramadas, 2009; Rowlands, 2004; Texeira, 2000). On average, the information articulated during the interviews better expressed the structure and function concepts of the organs and systems than did the drawings alone.

In addition to the importance of including interviews with the drawings, studies revealed that asking participants to “Draw what you believe is inside your body.” was not sufficient in determining if participants had a well-defined representation of participant knowledge. For example, Khwaja and Saxton (2001) and Prokop, et al. (2009) found that if participants were asked a more specific question concerning their drawings their ability to draw was higher. When Khwaja and Saxton (2001) analyzed skeletal system drawings obtained after general instruction (Draw what you think is inside your body.) and specific instruction (Draw the bones in your body.), they found that the level at which participants scored was higher in drawings in which participants received specific instructions. Prokop et al.’s (2009) study verified these findings by asking participants to “Draw what you think is inside your body.” and “Draw the endocrine (or urinary) system that you think is inside your body.” The results revealed that when participants were given specific instructions to draw a system, the participants scored significantly higher than they did when drawing a system as a part of the internal anatomy. While these studies demonstrated that the knowledge of participants may be obtained through drawings and interviews, research is needed to further explore the intricate web of knowledge of the systems in the human body and how that knowledge may be shaped by cultural experiences. Based on the social constructivist theory the role of the researcher is to establish the source of the information in order to better appreciate the knowledge of the participant. Therefore, in addition to being 164 P. Patrick asked to draw the gastrointestinal and endocrine systems preservice science teachers were asked to explain their knowledge of the system functions to a classmate and identify where they supposed they gained the knowledge.

Study Design and Methodology Study Group (Participants) This study took place during six science methods courses from fall 2007 to spring 2011 at two small suburban universities located in the southeastern United States of America. The science methods classes were made up of 142 preservice science teachers that would be teaching secondary science (students ages 14-18) and middle level science (students ages 11-14). The preservice science teachers were seniors (ages 20-28) in their fourth year of college and their second year in the undergraduate teacher education program and had completed an introductory biology course. The science methods course met for a three hour block once a week during the fall or spring semester. A total of 148 preservice science teachers participated, but six drawings and interviews were removed from the study due to interviews not being completed correctly, which left 142 preservice science teacher participants. Due to concerns about asking participants to identify their gender and race, participants were told they could provide this data but it was not necessary. Sixty-one percent of the participants chose not to identify their gender or race;

therefore, gender and race were not reported in this study.

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