Technology Rich Biology Labs: Effects of Misconceptions

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This paper describes a study conducted on the lab sections of the general biology course for non-science majors at the University of New England, and reports findings of student misconceptions about photosynthesis and the mass/carbon uptake during plant growth. The current study placed high technology analytic tools in the hands of introductory biology students allowing them to collect and analyze real carbon data, with the intent of increasing their conceptual understanding of photosynthesis concepts and decreasing the frequency of misconceptions. Two lab sections of the course were used as a study for the teaching of photosynthesis. The control section(A) used the more traditional qualitative chemical approach to presenting the material, and the treatment section (B) used sophisticated technology tostudy the process quantitatively. Using the plant Brassica rapa, students worked in groups to explore three different factors contributing to plant growth and photosynthesis, the treatment group. analytic technology. At the end of the laboratory activities about photosynthesis, the treatment students presented their work in the form of a symposium. Test scores, laboratory reports, and student semi-structured interview provided information about student understanding of photosynthesis. The paper reports detailed outlines of the class lab activities and technology use, and comments on the nature of student understanding of the mass/carbon uptake during photosynthesis. The study compared the understanding of students in both the treatment and control groups to assess the effectiveness of integrating technology into introductory biology lab activities on misconceptions about photosynthesis.