The modules in the BioQUEST Collection folder have all passed the full Library review process. They have been selected through an intensive peer-review process and have undergone extensive review, testing, and evaluation in actual classroom use. Inclusion in the BioQUEST Collection recognizes the achievement of a high standard in the development of curricular materials.
Introduction to BioQUEST: Problem-Posing, Problem-Solving, and Persuasion in Biological Investigations
John R. Jungck (Beloit College), Jim Stewart (University of Wisconsin - Madison), and Nils S. Peterson (Washington State University)
A text chapter that introduces and explores some of the key issues in the 3P's (Problem-posing, Problem-solving, and Persuasion) philosophy behind the activities of the BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium and the materials included in The BioQUEST Library.
Selected excerpts from the chapter are included below.
BioQUEST and a 3P’s Approach to Science Education:
In BioQUEST we hope that students will gain an understanding of, and some practice with, the way biologists pursue their craft, including how they perceive the world, pose questions, pursue the problems that arise from those questions, and persuade others of the value of their solutions.
Of the 3P’s, problem-posing often receives the least attention in introductory courses—most of the problems that students are asked to solve have been chosen by others. When that happens it is easy to lose sight of the significance of posing problems.
While posing one’s own problems may be uncommon in undergraduate education, it is at the heart of biology. A biologist could stand in her laboratory or in the field forever, and no textbook-stated problems would come to her. Problems cannot spring from nothing; a particular problem has a history in a particular discipline. And the way that a discipline or an individual scientist looks at the world has everything to do with which problems are felt to be worth investigating.
Students should have the opportunity to experience the excitement and satisfaction of doing something that is intellectually engaging. Problem-solving in biology is realistic when it captures the open-ended essence of science as it is practiced; problems must be posed and solved by the problem solver.
Problem-solving is at the heart of the research experience in science, with scientists probing the deep conceptual and experimental issues in a discipline. [Biologists] challenge themselves to solve problems, to learn and to create new knowledge, and we think students should be challenged to solve problems for those same reasons. The challenge, enjoyment and excitement that biologists experience as they solve problems is an effective way to learn and should be a part of undergraduate biology education.
Research is not part of science until colleagues in a research community have been persuaded that the solution to the particular problem is adequate—that is, has both internal logical consistency and consistency with appropriate, accepted knowledge in the discipline within which the solution to the problem is being sought. In the end, experimentation or data analysis is important only in the context of a theory; yet often, student labs stop at the data-collection phase.
The social dimension of writing occurs in two contexts. One is multiple authorship: a small team of students will bring more resources to the writing process than will a single person. By taking a team approach to writing, students may be more likely to become aware of the teleology, anthropomorphism, circular reasoning, speciesism, sexism, and racism that can be a part of biological writing. The second context is a larger one, connecting a single report, through citations to other research, to the web of knowledge previously created.
This document is available in Portable Document Format (PDF) or Microsoft Word. To access the PDF file you must install the Acrobat™ Reader (versions for Macintosh and Windows are included on the CD).