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AAAS Project 2061 Topic MAPS for biology curriculum evaluation

AAAS Project 2061 Topic MAPS for biology curriculum evaluation

The importance of coherence to learning has been well documented; part of what characterizes expertise is having a large amount of interconnected knowledge and knowing when it can be applied to the situation at hand (Chi, Feltovich, & Glaser, 1981). As the National Research Council (NRC) reports in How People Learn, research has shown that organizing information into a conceptual framework helps students apply what they learn in new situations and to learn related information more quickly (NRC, 2000, p. 17). Now AAAS Project 2061 provides curriculum maps to summarize the textbook evaluation findings for content alignment and coherence in biology. Each map displays key ideas, prerequisite ideas, and related ideas as well as the connections among them. The topic maps contrast the coherent set of key ideas that the reviewers looked for with a composite of the treatment actually found in nine popular biology textbooks evaluated. The Topic Maps cover Cell Structure and Function, Matter and Energy Transformations, Molecular Basis of Heredity, and Natural Selection and Evolution. For each of these biology topics examined, the map portrays an ideal of coherence by displaying three kinds of connections among ideas: (i) Connections among the key ideas that served as the basis for the analysis (mapped as black lines), (ii) Connections between the key ideas and their prerequisites (mapped as red lines), and (iii) Connections between the key ideas and other, related ideas that could strengthen studentsÂ’ understanding of them (mapped as blue lines).

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