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Professional development of four grade 10 biology teachers in Singapore : the learning study approach Tan, Yuen Sze Michelle 2011-12-31

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    PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF FOUR GRADE 10 BIOLOGY TEACHERS IN SINGAPORE  – THE LEARNING STUDY APROACH  by  YUEN SZE MICHELE TAN B.Sc. (Hons.), The National University of Singapore, 200   A THESIS SUBMITED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF   DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY  in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Curriculum Studies)     THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)   April 201  !Yuen Sze Michele Tan, 201          ii ABSTRACT  Despite the importance of genetics as a school curriculum topic and its increasing application in everyday life, and despite chalenges teachers face teaching genetics, a repertoire of pedagogical strategies that draws upon selected theories of learning may not always be readily available for teachers. In the context of Singapore, this is exacerbated by potential unfamiliarity with the newly implemented genetics curriculum, and how there also appears to be a lack of appropriate teacher profesional development programs. What is noteworthy is that these chalenges are similarly shared by teachers elsewhere.   A study was framed to investigate how teacher collaboration could be utilized to aleviate, if not overcome, these chalenges. Through a learning study framework, four collaborating Grade 10 biology teachers employed the theory of variation to manage and overcome the chalenges of teaching the new genetics curriculum in Singapore. A learning study amalgamates teacher collaboration, teacher reflection, teachers researching into their clasrooms and the employment of a theoretical framework.   This study seks to answer the research question “How does Singaporean teachers’ participation in a theory of variation-framed learning study afect their learning about their own pedagogy?” The thesis reports a phenomenographic analysis of the diferent ways the teachers experienced learning during collaborative endeavors, revealing the complex nature of teacher learning – complex ways of curriculum interpretation, leson planning and implementation, and evaluation of teaching practices. The impact of the learning study on teachers’ pedagogies and profesional development was also elucidated. Consequently, the experience of increased clarity and coherence in terms of curriculum interpretation, demonstration of ownership and authentic          iii leson planning manifested during the enactment of theory-guided lesons. The experience of collaborative inquiry into teachers’ own teaching practices also led to the generation of new insights on teaching, as wel as shifts in their beliefs about teaching and learning. The results support (1) the use of learning study as a profesional development approach to enhance students’ learning and to encourage teachers to develop their own curriculum; (2) the use of theory of variation as a framework to organize, implement and analyze teacher learning.            iv PREFACE  This research study obtained the approval of the UBC Research Ethics Board (Behavioural Research Ethics Board; UBC BREB Number: H08-02187).          v TABLE OF CONTENTS  ABSTRACT..................................................................................................................................ii PREFACE....................................................................................................................................iv TABLE OF CONTENTS..............................................................................................................v LIST OF TABLES.......................................................................................................................xi LIST OF DIAGRAMS...............................................................................................................xii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS......................................................................................................xiii DEDICATION.............................................................................................................................xv  CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................1  1.1 Introduction to the study....................................................................................................1 1.2 Overarching research question and guiding questions....................................................3 1.3 The Singaporean context.....................................................................................................4 1.3.1 Profesional development in Singapore.........................................................................5 1.3.2 The chalenge of a new genetics curriculum - unfamiliarity and a perception of a lack of a repertoire of pedagogical strategies that draw upon selected theories of learning................................................................7  1.3.3 Lack of clarity in teachers’ approach to curriculum interpretation and appropriate teacher profesional development programs to help  teachers enact the new biology curriculum................................................................12  1.4 Brief description of methodology and methods..............................................................14 1.5 An overview of the thesis...................................................................................................15            vi CHAPTER 2 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND LITERATURE REVIEW..............17  2.1 Theory of variation as a learning theory – a phenomenographic perspective.............17 2.1.1 Qualitatively diferent ways to experience...................................................................18 2.1.2 Notion of experience and the structure of awarenes...................................................20 2.1.3 Discernment and simultaneity......................................................................................21 2.2 Theory of variation as applied in educational settings...................................................22 2.2.1 Object of learning as the focal starting point................................................................23 2.2.2 Creating paterns of variation and invariance...............................................................25 2.2.3 Pedagogy of awarenes, building of relevance structure and establishment of common ground........................................................................34  2.3 Theory of variation as a tool to interpret students’ learning experiences....................37 2.4 Potential for teacher learning...........................................................................................39 2.5 Theory of variation as applied in this research study....................................................42   CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY AND METHODS EMPLOYED.......................................44  3.1 Using a phenomenographic perspective to understand learning..................................44 3.1.1 The hierarchical relationship of categories...................................................................46 3.2 The learning study approach............................................................................................47 3.2.1 Steps in a learning study...............................................................................................48 3.2.2 Collaborative aspect of learning study.........................................................................49 3.2.3 Employment of a theoretical framework......................................................................52 3.2.4 Teachers as researchers.................................................................................................53           vii 3.3 Method................................................................................................................................55 3.3.1 The participants............................................................................................................55 3.3.2 Implementation of the learning study...........................................................................56 3.4 Data sources.......................................................................................................................79 3.4.1 The use of interviews – drawing from a phenomenographic perspective....................80 3.5 Data analysis......................................................................................................................84 3.5.1 Analysis of participating teachers’ experiences...........................................................84 3.5.1.1 Variation in the analytical proces......................................................................87 3.5.2 Analysis of student learning.........................................................................................89 3.6 Situating myself in the study.............................................................................................90 3.6.1 My experience with the genetics curriculum................................................................90 3.6.2 The sense of profesional isolation...............................................................................91 3.6.3 Glimpses of the school culture.....................................................................................92 3.6.4 A cal to “travel”...........................................................................................................94 3.7 Trustworthines and isues of validity and reliability....................................................97 3.7.1 Addresing isues of validity........................................................................................98 3.7.2 Addresing isues of reliability.....................................................................................99 3.7.3 Bracketing – addresing isues of validity and reliability..........................................102 3.7.4 Establishing credibility in the study...........................................................................104 3.7.4.1 Prolonged engagement and persistent observation............................................104 3.7.4.2 Member checks..................................................................................................105 3.7.4.3 Triangulation – use of multiple sources of data................................................106            vii CHAPTER 4 RESULTS AND DISCUSION........................................................................107  4.1 Results and discusion.....................................................................................................107 4.2 Chris’ experience of the learning study.........................................................................108 4.2.1 Chris’ understandings of his own teaching and learning practices before participating in the learning study.................................................................108  4.2.2 How participation in the learning study influenced Chris’ pedagogy and  experiences of learning as a form of profesional development...............................111  4.2.3 Chris’ learning about his own pedagogy....................................................................124 4.3 Amy’s experience of the learning study.........................................................................126 4.3.1 Amy’s understandings of her own teaching and learning practices before participating in the learning study.................................................................126  4.3.2 How participation in the learning study influenced Amy’s pedagogy and  experiences of learning as a form of profesional development...............................129  4.3.3 Amy’s learning about her own pedagogy...................................................................145 4.4 Pam’s experience of the learning study.........................................................................147 4.4.1 Pam’s understandings of her own teaching and learning practices before participating in the learning study.................................................................147  4.4.2 How participation in the learning study influenced Pam’s pedagogy and  experiences of learning as a form of profesional development...............................150  4.4.3 Pam’s learning about her own pedagogy....................................................................167 4.5 Themes capturing the variation in the participants’ experiences...............................169 4.5.1 Increasing clarity and coherence in approach to curriculum interpretation...............170 4.5.2 Authentic leson planning resulting in the emergence of a sense of ownership and empowerment over the teachers’ own lesons.................................173  4.5.3 Deliberate application of theory of variation as a source of structure on the leson enactment..........................................................178  4.5.4 Collaborative inquiry into research lesons alowed for examination of one’s own teaching practices, leading to the emergence of new insights on how to improve one’s teaching................................183 !         ix 4.5.5 Demonstrated shifts in what was considered valuable to the benefit of student learning..............................................................................190   CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSIONS, SIGNIFICANCE, LIMITATIONS AND DELIMITATIONS, IMPLICATIONS AND SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH EXPERIENCE............................................................................193   5.1 Conclusions.......................................................................................................................193 5.2 Significance.......................................................................................................................199 5.3 Limitations and delimitations.........................................................................................202 5.4 Implications......................................................................................................................204 5.4.1 Implications for theory...............................................................................................205 5.4.2 Implications for teacher profesional development....................................................211 5.4.3 Implications for implementing future learning studies...............................................213 5.4.4 Implications for curriculum........................................................................................223 5.4.5 Implications for research methodology......................................................................225 5.4.6 Implications for teaching practice..............................................................................227 5.4.7 Implications for future research direction...................................................................231 5.5 Social science research experience.................................................................................233   REFERENCES..........................................................................................................................237  APENDICES............................................................................................................................255  APENDIX A: Genetics questionnaire...............................................................................255 APENDIX B: Introduction to theory of variation – handout given to teachers............257          x APENDIX C: Handout highlighting students’ understandings of genetics...................258 APENDIX D: Student pre-leson test................................................................................263 APENDIX E: Handout summarizing key results of                             students’ pre-leson test and interviews...................................................266  APENDIX F: Example of post-leson conference meeting notes....................................269 APENDIX G: Student post-leson test..............................................................................272 APENDIX H: Documentation of good practices – handout given to teachers..............275 APENDIX I: Overall reflection – handout given to teachers..........................................278          xi LIST OF TABLES  Table 3.1 Teaching experiences of the participating teachers......................................................56          xii LIST OF DIAGRAMS   Diagram 3.1 The intended approach to help teachers determine the object of student learning.................................................................................62   Diagram 3.2 The enacted approach to help teachers determine the object of student learning.................................................................................64  Diagram 3.3 The collective determination of curricular flow......................................................66  Diagram 3.4 Map of key points discussed in collaborative leson planning meting (given as handout)..................................................................................................70   Diagram 5.1 Diagram ilustrating some of the participating teachers’ experiences in the learning study that supported their own goals and beliefs about teaching  biology.................................................................................................................215          xii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS   This disertation would not have been possible without the support, guidance and help of the University, scholarship programs and several individuals who, in one way or another, contributed and extended their valuable asistance in the preparation and completion of this study.   First and foremost, my utmost gratitude to my research commite, whose guidance and kindnes I wil never forget. I am indebted to Dr. Samson Madera Nashon, my supervisor, for his unfailing and unselfish support throughout my course of study in UBC.  It is also with imense gratitude that I acknowledge the support and encouragement of Dr. Galen Erickson and Dr. Cynthia Nicol. The collective expertise and knowledge of my research commite have served as an inspiration throughout the course of my research study. Helping to enlarge my vision of education, their penetrating questions have taught me to question more deeply. The commite has also relentlesly supported the honing of my skils as a young scholar in the field. Their care and kind concern have been my source of motivation as I hurdle al the obstacles in the completion this research work.  My sincere thanks to the Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship Program, for funding the study through the Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship offered. I would also like to expres my gratitude to St. John’s College (UBC) for both the Sir Quo-Wei Le Felowship and the St. John’s College Reginald and Annie Van Felowship offered. In addition, my sincere thanks to the University of British Columbia for funding this study through the Four Year Felowship offered.  I would like to expres my gratitude to the Faculty in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy (EDCP), as wel as in the Department of Educational Studies (EDST) in UBC. I am grateful for the many courses that I have had the opportunity to take in these departments; to learn from various profesors and thus grow as a scholar. A most special thanks to Dr. Walter Werner, whose valuable insights on curricular change have influenced the shaping of this research study. My sincere thanks to Dr. Anne Phelan, for guiding my reflective thought proceses that have helped shape the writing of this disertation.            xiv Special thanks are owed to the administrative staf in EDCP, especialy the EDCP graduate program asistant, Ms. Basia Zurek. Her asistance and support with administrative maters have greatly helped to ease me into the student life in the graduate program. A special thanks for her help in arranging al the necesary documents for the grant and scholarship applications as wel.   My utmost appreciation goes out to the participating school and teachers in my research study, for their wilingnes to participate in the study and for their valuable insights.  My most sincere thanks to Dr. Sandra Scott, Trudy Bergere, Douglas Adler and Ashwani Kumar, for being “critical” friends that I could engage with and obtain constructive fedback regarding my work. I also wish to expres my gratitude to colleagues and felow students in EDCP, for opportunities to exchange ideas regarding educational isues and to learn from one another.  I extend my heartfelt appreciation to the graduate students in St. John’s College, for their support and friendships. I am also grateful for the opportunities to engage in academic discussions with them and to gain fresh insights into the research study undertaken.   I offer my special thanks and blesings to al who have helped me in any respect during the course of my research study.   Last but not the least, my most sincere thanks and utmost gratitude to my family, whose love and support have carried me thus far.           xv DEDICATION   To my parents, for the opportunity of an education from the best institutions,  and for your love throughout my life.   To Dr. Tan Tiang Wah, Hugh, a great teacher and positive influence on my life.   To Guilaume Lefebvre, my best friend, motivation and source of support.    To my mentor and friends, for walking alongside me in this journey,  and for your encouragement and kindnes.   To the omnipresent God, apart from whom, I am indeed nothing.           1 CHAPTER 1  INTRODUCTION  This chapter serves as an introduction to the study. The overarching research question and guiding questions are presented. The context of the study is also described, with a brief description of the methodology and methods employed. This chapter concludes with an overview of the thesis.  1.1 Introduction to the study Teacher learning and profesional development have gained much atention in research literature. There are several ways in which the promotion of teacher learning was advocated. While some foreground the importance of collaboration (Arbaugh, 2003; Lieberman, 2000; Shulman & Sherin, 2004; Wineburg & Grossman, 1998) and inquiry into the teachers’ individual clasrooms (Nelson & Slavit, 2007; Smylie, 1989; Stigler & Hiebert, 1999), others have looked into specific theories that can be applied into the clasroom (e.g., Posner, Strike, Hewson & Gertzog, 1982). With the aim of empowering teachers, concerns about how prescribed curriculum may relegate teachers to being mere implementers of the curriculum were also raised (Bencze & Hodson, 1999; Pedreti & Hodson, 1995).   Amongst the various approaches that encourage teacher profesional development, the learning study (Pang & Marton, 2003) stands out as having the potential to promote teacher learning. Pang and Marton first introduced the learning study approach in 2003. Initialy, learning studies aimed to promote student learning, for example, in the learning of economics (Lo, Marton, Pang & Pong, 2004; Pang, Linder & Fraser, 2006; Pang & Marton, 2003, 2005);          2 mathematics (concept of slope) (Choy, 2006); and color of light (Lo, Chik & Pang, 2006). However, there sems to be a lack of detailed studies inquiring into how the approach has the potential for teacher learning and development. Later studies (Chiu, 2005; Davies & Dunnil, 2008; Pang, 2006), shifting the focus to foreground and include teacher learning, ilustrate the growing interest in this aspect. For example, both Chiu and Pang reported the use of a learning study to enhance teacher profesional learning in Hong Kong, while Davies and Dunnill employed the learning study as a model of collaborative practice (in initial teacher education) in a UK university. Despite the growing interest, literature foregrounding the potential of learning study as an approach for profesional development appears to be limited. Thus, the semingly smal number of published studies and gaps in literature warrant further research, making it worthwhile to explore the potential of a learning study as a context for promoting and understanding teacher learning.    In the context of Singapore, profesional development of teachers has always been one of the top agendas for policy makers. Despite the commitment of policy makers to develop teachers to be beter equipped to teach, and despite the several programs and structures in place to support teacher profesional development, several modes of profesional development occur outside the school context. In light of several studies that emphasize the importance of teachers’ own clasroom for profesional development, (Nelson & Slavit, 2007; Smylie, 1989; Stigler & Hiebert, 1999), it is compeling to consider the possibility of extending the existing modes of profesional development in Singapore to approaches that aford teachers opportunities to learn within their own clasroom contexts. Thus, in view of how there appears to be a gap in literature, and also of the possibility of expanding the approaches of teacher profesional development in Singapore, this current study was situated within the context of Grade 10          3 science curriculum where teachers enacted the teaching of the new Singaporean genetics curriculum. The implementation of the new biology curriculum (introduced in 2007) has in fact posed several chalenges for the teachers. These chalenges include (1) unfamiliarity with the content of the new genetics curriculum, which is exacerbated by how there appears to be a lack of a repertoire of pedagogical strategies that draw upon selected theories of learning, and (2) how there also appears to be a lack of clarity and appropriate teacher profesional development programs to help teachers enact teaching the new biology curriculum. (Se more discussion of chalenges in Section 1.3) What is noteworthy is that these chalenges presented in the context of a Singaporean biology clasroom may in fact be commonplace for teachers elsewhere. To respond to these chalenges, the current study was framed to investigate how learning study could be utilized to aleviate, if not overcome, the chalenges.  1.2 Overarching research question and guiding questions  In light of the potential of employing a learning study to promote teacher learning and to addres chalenges in teaching and in teacher profesional development, this study was framed to investigate how four Grade 10 biology teachers’ participation in a learning study influenced their own learning. An overarching research question that emerged was “How does Singaporean teachers’ participation in a theory of variation-framed learning study affect their learning about their own pedagogy?”               4 To aid in the investigation of the overarching research question, the following guiding questions were formulated: 1. What are teachers’ understandings of their own teaching and learning practices before participating in and experiencing a learning study? 2. How does participation in the learning study influence teachers’ pedagogy and experiences of learning as a form of profesional development?  Atending to the overarching research question and guiding questions may eventualy lend support for learning study to be added to the repertoire of profesional development modes in Singapore and elsewhere. It offers a clasroom-based context whereby teachers can share their best practices (Glazer & Hannafin, 2006; Kristmanson, Dicks, Le Bouthilier & Bourgoin, 2008; Stigler & Hiebert, 1999) and learn from other teachers. Teachers can also be encouraged to be engaged in research, and thus have opportunities to link teaching to research and theory. Given that teachers belong to a weak technical culture that require them to increase their “blind faith” in their own teaching practices (Lieberman & Miler, 1990), the opportunities for them to be engaged in the inquiry of their own teaching practices as teacher-researchers are not only desirable, but arguably a necesity.   1.3 The Singaporean context  In this section, the current profesional development opportunities for teachers in Singapore are presented. Narrowing down to the implementation of the new Grade 9-10 biology curriculum, the asociated chalenges are also discussed. Teachers’ potential unfamiliarity with the new curriculum and how there appears to be a lack of a repertoire of pedagogical strategies that draw upon selected theories of learning are highlighted. In addition, how there appears to be          5 (1) a lack of clarity in teachers’ approach to curriculum interpretation, as wel as (2) a perceived lack of appropriate teacher profesional development programs to help teachers to enact the new biology curriculum are subsequently discussed.  1.3.1 Profesional development in Singapore  In Singapore, political leaders and education policy makers constantly have education and the chalenge of preparing high-quality teachers at the top of their agenda (Goh & Le, 2008). It is believed that the succes of what Singapore hopes to achieve in education hinges on the quality of its teachers, thus necesitating teachers to be dedicated to their own profesional development (Goh & Le, 2008). The emphasis on teacher profesional development has led to policies that encourage and support the growth of teachers. These policies, which translate to the seting up of various administrative organizations, programs and profesional development centres, result in a diverse range of teacher development opportunities. For example, under the school staf development scheme, officials (reporting officers) are designated to overse the profesional and personal development of every teacher (Ng, 2008). This gives the teachers a platform on which to discuss their profesional development plans with their reporting officers. As part of the “Thinking Schools, Learning Nation” initiative of the Ministry of Education, in-service teachers are also entitled to 100 hours of fully subsidized profesional training and growth per year (Goh & Le, 2008; Gopinathan, 2001). Foregrounding a mentorship model, additional teachers are also deployed to enable schools to offload more experienced teachers so that they can mentor the “younger ones” in schools and overse their profesional development (MOE, 2005; Shanmugaratnam, 2005).            6 Based on the philosophy that teachers must pursue learning on a lifelong basis in order to stay relevant to their students, profesional development opportunities in the mode of obtaining higher profesional certification (including undergraduate and postgraduate degrees) in service courses are made available through the “Profesional Development Continuum Models” (PDCM) (MOE, 2005, 2008; UNESCO, 2008). The PDCM has been in place since 2005 and aims to link pre-service and in-service teacher education. It also strives to link teaching to research. In addition to PDCM, local and overseas work atachment opportunities are also made available through the “Teacher Work Atachment” program (TWA) that was started in 2003, with participating teachers reported to have returned to their clasrooms with fresh perspectives and glimpses of busines innovation, global competitivenes and service standards (MOE, 2008; Ng, 2008). In addition, in order to sustain teachers’ ongoing profesional development, the Ministry of Education has set up centres such as the “Centre of Excelence for Profesional Development”, with the aim of championing the sharing of best practices and learning from felow teachers (Shanmugaratnam, 2005).  The availability of these diferent modes of profesional development clearly signals the new emphasis the Singapore government places on the provision of quality education for young Singaporeans and the preparation of high-quality teachers (Goh & Le, 2008). However, as briefly mentioned in the introduction, several of these modes of profesional development occur outside the school context, despite studies demonstrating the value teachers place on clasroom experience. For example, in Smylie’s (1989) study, teachers ranked direct clasroom experience as their most important site for profesional learning. Similarly, analysis of five case studies of teachers engaged in collaborative inquiry by Nelson and Slavit (2007) revealed that a key element in teachers’ profesional growth involves “dialogic inquiry grounded in clasroom-         7 based data” (p. 37). What is underscored is that the most efective place to improve teaching and learn profesionaly is in the context of teachers’ own clasrooms. In addition, the problem of how to apply research findings in the clasroom disappears when the inquiry is clasroom-based (Gu & Wang, 2006; Stigler & Hiebert, 1999). Thus, if Singapore has education and the chalenge of preparing high-quality teachers at the top of their agenda, it becomes compeling to consider the possibility of extending the existing modes of profesional development to those situated within teachers’ own clasroom contexts.   1.3.2 The challenges of a new genetics curiculum – unfamiliarity and a perception of a lack of a repertoire of pedagogical strategies that draw upon selected theories of learning  The newly implemented biology curriculum, stipulated by the Ministry of Education, outlines the learning outcomes that students wil be asesed on in the national biology examination at the end of Grade 10 - the General Certificate of Education “Ordinary” Level (GCE ‘O’ Level) examination. In Singapore, the grades obtained are vital for admision to junior colleges (Grade 11-12), and to tertiary or other higher institutes of learning. Thus, the prescribed curriculum is commonly relied on to determine what teachers should be teaching in their clases.   In the new genetics curriculum, it has been observed that there is an increasing emphasis on the molecular aspects of genetics - such as transcription and translation. Such an efort may be interpreted as an atempt to propel towards achieving the broad curricular goal of increasing scientific literacy - in view of how genetics is one of the cornerstones of modern biology (Rotbain, Marbach-Ad & Stavy, 2006); of the impact of the human genome project (Jegalian, 2000; Mclnerney, 1996); and of the increasing contemporary application of genetics in our          8 everyday lives (Jegalian, 2000; Wood, 1993). An educated public capable of judging the safety of geneticaly engineered organisms, making a stance about the morality of genetics-related health care and deciding on how to regulate aces to genetic information is deemed pertinent (Jegalian, 2000; Tsui & Treagust, 2004; Wood, 1993). In other words, the empowering of citizens to make more informed decisions regarding genetics-related isues is necesary. Coupled with the fact that life sciences have been positioned as the engine for economic growth in Singapore (Lim, 2003; Phon, 2003), this new emphasis in the genetics curriculum is not a surprising one.   The new emphasis, however, poses a chalenge to teachers who might not have been wel exposed to the topic of molecular genetics. Most Grade 9-10 Biology teachers in Singapore have at least a Bachelors degree in the sciences, and were exposed to learning of some advanced biology in the university, although not necesarily in the field of genetics. Thus, it is reasonable to asume that not al teachers would be comfortable with teaching the new genetics curriculum, and may not be able to draw from their prior experiences as students to teach the topic (Blanton, 2003; Nashon, 2005).   The unfamiliarity of teaching the molecular aspects of genetics is exacerbated by the fact that teachers continualy face chalenges teaching genetics. Research literature has revealed genetics as a topic that is dificult to learn. (Se Gericke and Hagberg (2007) for a review.) Several studies highlight students’ conceptions that difered from the canonical sciences of genetics (Chatopadhyay, 2005; Lai, 1996; Lewis, Leach & Wood-Robinson, 2000a, b, c; Marbach-Ad, 2001; Venvile & Donovan, 2007; Wood, 1993). Students’ dificulties in learning genetics include the chalenges faced in understanding the relationships betwen genetic          9 biophysical entities (chromosomes, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and genes) and relating them with broader genetics concepts such as gene expresion, cel division or an understanding of life (Duncan & Reiser, 2007; Lewis & Katmann, 2004; Lewis & Wood-Robinson, 2000; Marbach-Ad, 2001; Marbach-Ad & Stavy, 2000; Saka, Cerrah, Akdeniz & Ayas, 2006; Venvile, Gribble & Donovan, 2005). Understanding the relationships betwen genetic biophysical entities is often foundational to the learning of other genetic concepts, including the concept of gene expresion – the later includes the genetic proceses of transcription and translation, which were topics introduced into the new Grade 9-10 genetics curriculum.   Educational researchers have also atributed the chalenges in teaching and learning genetics to (1) understanding phenomena involving smal and often hidden genetic biophysical entities that makes it dificult for students to experience the phenomenon (Gilbert, Osborne & Fensham, 1982; Duncan & Reiser, 2007; Mbajiorgu, Ezech, Idoko, 2007); (2) the diferent levels of organizations that necesitates an understanding of mechanisms and interactions (including genetic proceses) at the macro, micro and molecular levels (Bahar, Johnstone & Hansel, 1999; Duncar & Reiser, 2007; Mbajiorgu et al., 2007; Marbach-Ad & Stavy, 2000); and (3) the ontological diferences betwen the levels of genetic phenomena (Duncan & Reiser, 2007; Tsui & Treagust, 2004; Venvile & Treagust, 1998; Venvile et al., 2005). Thus, there is often “litle opportunity to bring the disparate pieces together to give a holistic overview or to make the relationship betwen topics explicit” (Lewis & Wood-Robinson, 2000, p. 190). These chalenges are exacerbated by the poor organization of genetic topics within the textbook, as wel as the time gaps betwen teaching these topics. Consequently, the building of a coherent conceptual framework may be hindered (Banet & Ayuso, 2000; Chatopadhyay, 2005; Lewis & Wood-Robinson, 2000; Lewis et al., 2000C). (Some of the research studies mentioned here were          10 used in the current learning study to examine students’ conceptions of genetic concepts, and to further discuss the chalenges that were similarly encountered by the participating teachers.)   An awarenes of the chalenges in the learning and teaching of genetics has evoked much interest in possible interventions. Suggestions range from the use of problem-based/problem-solving strategies (Araz & Sungur, 2007; Gelbart & Yarden, 2006; Stewart & Rudolph, 2001), the use of metaphors (Martins & Ogborn, 1997), to the use of models and other strategies that aid in reduction of information students atend to at one time (Rotbain, Marbach & Stavy, 2005; Rotbain et al., 2006). The use of computer simulations (Law & Le, 2004) and software that feature multiple representations (Tsui & Treagust, 2004, 2007) were also recommended. Alongside these pedagogical strategies, the inclusion of various subtopics or key concepts, with the intent to addres possible gaps in student understandings and to approach genetics in a more holistic way (Lai, 1996; Lewis & Wood-Robinson, 2000; Marbach-Ad, 2001), was also advocated. The subtopics of regulatory genes (gene switches) (Lewis & Katmann, 2004; Lewis et al., 2000C; Wood, 1993), mutation (Lewis & Katmann, 2004; Tsui & Treagust, 2004); polygenic and multifactorial traits (Mclnerney, 1996) were amongst those that were recommended.   Consistent with the constructivist tradition, researchers have also advocated the elucidation of underlying beliefs and presuppositions that give rise to students’ everyday conceptions (Mbajiorgu et al., 2007; Santos & Bizo, 2005). Acording to Lewis and Katmann (2004), these conceptions are esential starting points, rather than obstructions, from which scientific understandings can be developed.  Uncovering students’ conceptions is common practice for pedagogical strategies that posit a focus on conceptual change (Chi, Slotta &          11 deLeuw, 1994; Posner et al., 1982). Some research studies in this area are directed towards the exploration of students’ conceptions by using multiple interpretive frameworks (Tsui & Treasgust, 2004, 2007; Venvile & Treagust, 1998; Venvile et al., 2005), advocating the use of epistemological, ontological and/or social/afective perspectives to explore conceptual change in genetics.     While these interventions are valuable for consideration in the teaching of genetics in a Singaporean clasroom, the extent to which they may be applied may be limited in the Singaporean context. For example, the amount of time teachers might be wiling to spend on trying out new activities (such a problem-based activities) or to include subtopics that are not emphasized in the stipulated syllabus may be a limiting factor. Grade 9-10 teachers generaly devote a lot of time focusing on completing the prescribed curriculum and preparing the students for the national examinations. Thus, there might be litle perceived incentive to include topics that are outside of the prescribed curriculum. Moreover, the performance of a Grade 9-10 teacher in the Singaporean system is in part determined by how wel the students perform in these national examinations. The grades asigned to the teachers also afect the progres of the teachers’ careers. Consequently, a phenomenon that may emerge in a general Singaporean grade 9-10 biology clas is the employment of teacher-centered pedagogies, since it is perceived to be more “eficient” in terms of time spent. As such, there might also be litle perceived incentive to try out new pedagogical strategies that are sen to take up more curriculum time. However, it is worth mentioning the importance of using students’ conceptions to guide clasroom instruction is valued in a Singaporean clasroom. This thus creates a potential disparity betwen teachers’ beliefs about good (biology) teaching and their current teaching practices. The chalenges faced by teachers highlighted here were in fact recognized in literature, underscoring the tensions that          12 emerge as occasions whereby teachers are constrained from implementing a curriculum that is consistent with their personal beliefs - due to the lack of time, an over-crowded syllabus or the presure of examinations (Eliott, 1991; Evans, 1996; Hodson, 1993).   The limited impact of literature may also be atributed to how it may not always be readily available to teachers (Bencze & Hodson, 1999; Pedreti & Hodson, 1995; Rosenholz, 1989), since some research journals may require subscription that the teachers do not have access to. This is exacerbated by how for “the most part educational researchers ignore teachers and teachers ignore the researchers right back” (Zeichner, 1995, p. 154), thus widening the gap betwen clasroom teachers and educational researchers (Coulter & Wiens, 2002). As such, suggested interventions and pedagogical strategies may have no or limited influence on teachers’ teaching. The chalenges mentioned in this section thus shed light on the perception of a lack of a repertoire of pedagogical strategies that draw upon selected theories of learning to help teachers enact the new genetics curriculum.   1.3.3 Lack of clarity in teachers’ approach to curiculum interpretation and appropriate teacher profesional development programs to help teachers enact the new biology curriculum  A potential chalenge related to teachers managing the new biology curriculum is that there appears to be a lack of clarity and coherence in teachers’ approach to interpreting the curriculum. Although the curriculum is spelt out in terms of students’ learning outcomes, teachers often face dificulty determining the scope and depth of the material to be taught. The chalenge of the lack of clarity is deepened by the newnes of the genetics curriculum that leaves teachers litle to draw from, both in terms of their experiences teaching it, as wel as from their          13 personal experiences of being learners themselves. Moreover, the emphasis of the new curriculum remains relatively unclear to the teachers since it has not been asesed many times in the GCE ‘O’ Level examinations.   Of equal concern is how teachers may fal into the trap of becoming mere implementers of curriculum designed by others (Bencze & Hodson, 1999, Pedreti & Hodson, 1995). In the Singaporean context, this constant struggle may be further amplified by how much emphasis the entire society places on grades and asesment, with a cultural system that relies heavily on meritocracy (Kam & Gopinathan, 1999). Perceiving the curriculum to be asesment-driven, teachers may thus be compeled to implement the curriculum as closely as is stipulated. In a context whereby it sems that control remains with central authority and teachers merely atend to the technical aspects of implementing these decisions (Pedreti & Hodson, 1995), the concern raised here is that relegating biology teachers’ task to merely implementing the curriculum leaves litle room for them to reflect on the curriculum, to take a holistic approach towards biology, or to take greater ownership of their teaching.   Addresing this concern, the current study aligns more with Eliott’s (1991) view that curriculum development constitutes a proces of teacher development that occurs through the reflective practice of teaching. Rather than geting beter at implementing an externaly designed curriculum, the improvement of teaching is more a mater of developing one’s own curriculum. Sen in this light, appropriate teacher profesional development programs in the Singaporean context would include opportunities for teachers to make meaning of the curriculum beyond its mere implementation. It would also encourage teachers to evaluate students’ learning experiences and their clasroom practices based on these meanings, rather than on what is to be          14 asesed (in examinations) alone. Currently, however, such programs may not always be readily available to teachers in Singapore. Despite the current lack of such teacher development programs, the learning study, which posseses the potential for this particular type of curricular work, lend the power for the emergences of such teacher development opportunities both in Singapore and elsewhere.   1.4 Brief description of methodology and methods The design of this research study drew from research and “learning study” proposed by Pang and Marton (2003, 2005), from design experiment (Brown, 1992; Collins, 1992, 1999), leson study (Stigler & Hiebert, 1999), as wel as the collaborative and reiterative nature within action research (Eliott, 1991). Learning study amalgamates opportunities for teachers to pool their experiences and resources to collaboratively plan, implement and evaluate theory-guided student learning experiences. Concurrently, teachers conduct research in their own clasrooms as a way to inquire into their own practices.   Aimed at understanding teachers’ experience of engaging in their practice, and their experiences of collaborating and enacting teaching the new genetics curriculum, teacher interviews were conducted before and after the study (one before, and two after the study). An overal reflection was also conducted at the end of the learning study, whereby participating teachers were granted time during the meting to write down short notes of their thoughts and experiences. The three interviews and reflective entries served to elucidate the participating teachers’ understandings of their own teaching and learning practices before participating in and experiencing the learning study, and how their pedagogies and learning as a form of profesional development were influenced by their experiences in the learning study.          15 Student pre- and post-leson tests and interviews were also administered to determine the impact of the intervention (research lesons) on students’ learning. Audio-video recordings of the metings, research lesons and post-leson conferences were also made. Coupled with notes of the metings (prepared by the facilitator-researcher); a “Genetics Questionnaire” that teachers completed at the beginning of the study (focusing on teachers’ beliefs about the teaching of genetics); and the researcher’s recorded writen field notes and journal, these data sources served triangulation purposes (Mathison, 1988) and analysis of the overal proces.    The analysis employed largely a phenomenographic approach (se Marton 1988, 1994a; Marton & Booth, 1997) that focused on “experience” and capturing the diferent ways teachers experienced learning in the learning study. For each teacher, their interview transcripts and overal reflection were analyzed alongside the rest of the data sources. The analysis captured, firstly, the individual experiences of each participant. Subsequently, the analysis proceded to uncover emergent themes. These themes iluminate how the learning study influences (1) teachers’ pedagogies, (2) their beliefs about teaching and learning, and (3) their learning as a form of profesional development. Pointing to the lived experiences of the teachers, these themes were also useful for establishing the relationships betwen teacher learning and the organization of the learning study.   1.5 An overview of the thesis In this chapter, I have introduced the context of this study, as wel as the overarching research questions and guiding questions. I have also discussed the Singaporean context in which this study was implemented, highlighting the chalenges in profesional development that are common to both Singapore and elsewhere. The methodology and methods that were          16 employed have also been briefly mentioned. In Chapter 2, theory of variation is introduced. Providing a literature review, it is ilustrated how the application of the theory in this research study is suitable, since (1) the theory offers a way to look at learning; (2) was applied in educational setings to enhance student learning; and (3) is useful as a tool to interpret students’ learning experiences. The potential of a theory of variation-framed learning study to promote teacher learning is also mentioned. The chapter concludes with a description of how theory of variation was applied in this research study. In Chapter 3, the use of a phenomenographic perspective to understand learning is discussed. The learning study approach is also discussed in greater detail. The rest of the chapter is devoted to describing the methods employed, the data sources and the data analysis proces. How I have situated myself in the study, and isues of trustworthines, validity and reliability are also discussed. In Chapter 4, the results are presented and discussed. Firstly, three of the participating teachers’ individual experiences are described. Subsequently, five themes that served to capture the variation in the participating teachers’ experiences in the learning study are discussed. In Chapter 5, conclusions are presented, acompanied by a discussion of the significance, as wel as the limitations and delimitations of the study. The implications for theory; teacher profesional development; implementing future learning studies, curriculum; research methodology; teaching practice and future research direction are subsequently discussed. The thesis concludes with a description of the social science research experienced in this study.           17 CHAPTER 2 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND LITERATURE REVIEW  This chapter begins with an introduction to theory of variation. The literature review that follows serve to ilustrate how the application of theory of variation in this research study is suitable – as a learning theory that offers a perspective of learning; as a theory that was applied in educational setings to enhance student learning; and as a tool to interpret students’ learning experiences. Subsequently, the potential of a theory of variation-framed learning study to promote teacher learning is also described, followed by a brief description of how theory of variation was applied in this research study.  2.1 Theory of variation as a learning theory – a phenomenographic perspective Theory of variation was developed from the phenomenographic research approach (Marton, 1981). Phenomenography was developed in the early 1970s at the University of Göteborg in Sweden and was first introduced in publication in 1981 by Ference Marton. The phenomenographic perspectives in this study draw from those developed by Ference Marton and his colleagues at the University of Göteborg, and are discussed in this chapter. In the subsequent chapter (Section 3.1 & 3.5.1), some of the critiques of the works of Marton and his colleagues are also discussed.   Phenomenography sets out to reveal diferent ways in which people experience the phenomena, and/or characterize a way of experiencing something in terms of the critical aspects of the object of learning (a capability or value to be acquired) as discerned by the learner (Pang, 2003). In phenomenography, learning is characterized as learning to experience something in a          18 certain way, and the consequent variation theory posits that learning is the development of a capability to experience something in a diferent (more advanced or complex) way from before (Bowden & Marton, 1998; Marton, 1986; Marton & Booth, 1997).   2.1.1 Qualitatively different ways to experience The earlier works in phenomenography (as was described in Marton and Booth (1997) and Richardson (1999)) comprised of content-related studies of more general aspects of learning (Marton, 1986). These studies lend support that there are qualitatively diferent ways to learn, which may acount for why some people learn beter than others. For example, Marton and Säljö  (1976a, b) studied 40 female first-term university students’ approach of comprehending text, aiming to reveal how a given text appeared to the students and what they understood it to be about. Their study uncovered four qualitatively distinct ways of comprehending the text. The diferences represented diferent degrees of partial understanding of the whole text, which can be ordered in a hierarchy that demonstrates increasing complexity and logical relationships betwen ways of comprehending the text. Subsequent studies, such as those by Säljö, (1979a, 1979b, 1982), were directed at uncovering the diferent conceptions of learning. 90 people betwen the ages of 15 and 73 years from various educational institutions were interviewed. Säljö presented five diferent conceptions of learning, which were represented in a developmental hierarchy. The results were similarly ascertained by researchers working outside of Sweden, as exhibited by students both in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (se Richardson, 1999). Marton, Beaty and Dal’Alba, (1993), similarly uncovering the various “surface” and “deep” approaches to learning, described changes in the conceptions of learning demonstrated by 29 students. The results were likewise similar to that of Säljö’s, and a sixth conception of learning was added.          19 The above studies may be deemed to lend support to “developmental phenomenography”, which posits a purpose of using outcomes from phenomenographic studies to help the subjects of the research to learn (Bowden, 1994a) - as opposed to having a ‘pure’ phenomenographic interest (Marton, 1986). The development of literature in the field of phenomenography is deemed to have headed in this direction. Citing the works of Johansson, Marton and Svensson (1985) and Svensson (1989) that focused on how university entrants understood notions of mechanics as Newtown’s first law of motion; Renström (1988) and Renström, Andersson and Marton (1990) that focused on how students betwen the age of 12 to 16 understood the nature of mater; Neuman (1989) focusing on students’ experience of numbers; Booth (1992a, b) that revealed students’ approaches to learning to program by writing programs and students’ diferent understandings of recursion, Marton and Booth (1997) drew support from these studies for their asertion that there are qualitatively critical diferences in ways of understanding and experiencing various topics or subjects. A similar asertion could be made from the results of later studies. For example, in Lai’s (1996) study, the diferent ways ten third-year university students understood and approached the genetic topic of meiosis was explored. The works cited here represent part of a body of phenomenographic research studies conducted primarily in educational contexts.   The development of phenomenography, with the object of research as variation in ways of experiencing diferent phenomena, can thus be appreciated to have two “faces” of variation (Pang 2003). As Pang puts it, the “first” face of variation refers to variation in ways of experiencing a particular phenomenon, with most studies in this strand of research orientation concerned with various ways in which a particular phenomenon appears to diferent people, as demonstrated in the studies cited above. Thus, phenomenography in this sense is descriptive and          20 methodologicaly oriented. Subsequently, recent developments in phenomenography points to a shift in primary emphasis from questions concerning how diferent ways of experiencing something can be captured methodologicaly to theoretical questions about the nature of the diferences (Pang, 2003). Acording to Pang, there is a move from description of the diferent ways of experiencing various phenomena to answering questions that probed for what a way of experiencing something is and the diference betwen two ways of experiencing the same thing. According to Pang, the theory of variation (Bowden & Marton, 1998; Marton & Booth, 1997) owes its development to this “new phenomenography”.  2.1.2 Notion of experience and the structure of awarenes  In phenomenography, the basic tenet is that every phenomenon has a limited number of critical aspects/features that distinguishes it from other phenomena (Marton & Booth, 1997). The diferences in the way these critical aspects are discerned and simultaneously focused on correspond to the diferent ways of experiencing the phenomenon. The emphasis on learner’s experiences urges one to consider what a way of experiencing something is. Turning to Gurwitsch (1964) (cited by Bowden & Marton, 1998; Marton, 1994a; Marton & Booth, 1997; Marton, Runeson & Tsui, 2004; Runeson, 2005, 2006), who also aserted that there is a structure to awarenes, distinctions were made betwen the object of focal awarenes (the “theme”); those related to the object and in which it is embedded (the “thematic field”); and those that coexist with the theme without being related to it (the “margin”). In addition, the structure of awarenes is built on the premise that while we are aware of everything al the time, we are not aware of everything in the same way. As such, qualitatively diferent ways of experiencing something can be appreciated in terms of the diferences in the structure of awarenes. In other words, there are diferent ways of experiencing the same phenomenon when          21 diferent aspects are discerned (the “figure”) while others are relegated to the background (the “ground”). At this point, it is worth noting that acording to Marton and Booth (1997), “conceptions”, “ways of understanding”, “ways of comprehending” were used as synonyms for “ways of experiencing” in phenomenographic studies.   2.1.3 Discernment and simultaneity An approach to learning in a particular situation, as informed by phenomenography, involves a combination of the way in which the learner experiences learning and the way the situation is experienced (Marton & Booth, 1997). As discussed above, phenomenography foregrounds variation in qualitatively diferent ways of experiencing. It also points to the diferences in the structure of awarenes to acount for these diferences. Theory of variation thus develops from the point that learning is premised on the learner’s structure of awarenes, and is related to discernment, variation and simultaneity (Marton & Booth, 1997, Pang, 2003, Pang & Marton, 2005; Marton et al., 2004). In other words, the structure and limitations of awarenes compels the intentional, systematic and careful planning and enactment of instruction based on a patern of simultaneous variation and invariance, in order that the learner’s atention is directed to the desired aspects for learning to occur. This was ilustrated in recent studies employing the theory of variation (Fraser, Alison, Coombes, Case & Linder, 2006; Linder, Fraser & Pang, 2006; Lo et al., 2004, 2006; Marton et al., 2004; Pang et al., 2006; Pang & Marton, 2003, 2005).  In theory of variation (Bowden & Marton, 1998; Marton & Booth, 1997), learning is appreciated as a change in discernment. A learner must experience variability in order to discern, because discernment asumes experienced variation. When certain aspects of a          22 phenomenon vary while other aspects remain invariant, those aspects that vary are discerned or come to the fore of awarenes, and this awarenes may result in learning. In addition, the discernment of critical aspects that corresponds to the dimensions of variation of the phenomenon must also take place simultaneously. In this manner, the qualitatively diferent ways of experiencing something can thus be understood in terms of the discernment of critical aspects, the simultaneity of discerned critical aspects, and the potential for variation in the discerned critical aspects of the phenomenon (Pang & Marton, 2005).   2.2 Theory of variation as applied in educational settings Theory of variation semed to have appeared in literature only recently (Pang, 2003; Pang & Marton, 2003, 2005). Although Marton and Booth (1997) did not sem to clearly demarcate the boundaries betwen phenomenography and theory of variation, the theory can be deemed as an extension of the perspectives about learning held in the phenomenographic tradition. The use of theory of variation in educational contexts often revolves around its employment as a theoretical framework to guide the planning, implementation and/or evaluation of clasroom instruction. These studies take place in the context of a learning study (Pang et al., 2006; Pang & Marton, 2003, 2005; Lo et al., 2006). They lend support to an orientation towards how one might create conditions for learners to discern, and be focaly and simultaneously aware of the critical aspects of the phenomenon to be studied. Thus, what can be appreciated is that while phenomenography offers perspectives on qualitatively diferent ways to experience the phenomenon, theory of variation bring to the fore how discernment can be deliberately brought about to encourage more advanced and complex ways of experiencing the phenomenon. The theory foregrounds the creation and enactment of paterns of variation and invariance, as          23 wel as “the best source of insight into what is critical and what is necesary: the learners themselves” (Marton & Pang, 2006, p. 217).    The subsequent sections, focusing on how the theory was applied in educational setings, serve to ilustrate through a review of literature how theory of variation was used as a theory to guide the organization, enactment and evaluation of students’ learning experiences. Extending the literature review to ilustrate the potential for teacher learning and profesional development in a theory of variation-framed learning study, the lack of studies to further enrich this aspect of inquiry is highlighted. The chapter concludes with a brief description on how theory of variation was employed to help frame and analyze both student and teacher learning opportunities in this research study.  2.2.1 Object of learning as the focal starting point    As observed in studies employing the theory of variation, the object of learning was often taken as the focal starting point for teachers to plan and implement their research lesons. What is learned (a capability or value to be developed) is the “object of learning”. That learning always has an object is of central importance to theory of variation (Marton & Booth, 1997; Pang & Marton, 2003; Runeson, 2005, 2006). With the notion of “intentionality”, Franz Brentano posits that al psychological acts are intentional, that is, they are directed towards something else beyond the acts themselves (Bowden & Marton, 1998; Marton, 1986, 1988; Marton & Booth, 1997; Runeson, 2006). Thus, there “is no learning without something learned, there is no thinking without something thought, there is no experiencing without something experienced” (Bowden & Marton, 1998, p. 40).            24 Theory of variation can be employed as a theoretical framework that guides teachers to determine both the object of learning, as wel as the critical aspects that constitute the object of learning. The determination of the object of learning is pertinent because diferent objects of learning would imply that diferent things are learnt (Marotn & Booth, 1997). In addition, certain paterns of variation and invariance in the learning context are related to a specific object of learning. Marton et al.’s (2004) study supports this view. In their study, how students solved arithmetic tasks were correlated with the nature of the tasks, the later representing diferent objects of learning. The results suggest that what was possible to learn was determined by what was discerned. In the same vein, Runeson (2005) posits that theory of variation sheds light on one feature of clasroom learning, that is, what it is possible to learn in terms of what may be discerned. Because learning is contingent on experiencing variation, the dimensions corresponding to the aspects of the object of learning in which variation could be experienced and discerned simultaneously define the space of learning (Marton & Booth, 1997; Marton & Trigwel, 2000). Widening the space of learning demands the creation of certain conditions, such as (1) a simultaneous patern of variation and invariance, which alows the learner’s focal awarenes to bear upon the critical aspects; and (2) a “meting of awarenes”. (The two conditions are discussed in greater detail in the next two sections (Section 2.2.2 and 2.2.3)).  The object of learning, as used in a theory of variation-framed learning study, can be diferentiated into (1) the intended object of learning (typicaly the chosen object of learning to be focused upon, including also the finalized design of instruction consisting the paterns of variation and invariance to be used), (2) the enacted objected of learning (how the object of learning is implemented in the clasroom, which thus have a direct impact on the students), as wel as (3) the lived object of learning (which represents to what extend the object of learning          25 was mastered by the students after instruction) (Marton & Booth, 1997; Marton & Pang, 2006; Marton & Tsui, 2004). It can be appreciated that the intended object of learning guides the enactment of the patern of variation and invariance implemented (enacted object of learning), and students’ learning (lived object of learning) can be understood by establishing the relationships betwen the enacted and lived object of learning.  2.2.2 Creating patterns of variation and invariance Acording to phenomenography, discernment is deemed as the core of ways of experiencing the world around us. It means that a feature of the physical, cultural, symbolic or sensuous world appears to the subject. With the basic tenet that discernment or experience is always the discernment of variation or the experience of diference, the feature is sen or sensed by the learner against the background of previous experiences (Marton & Pang, 2006). An employment of variation theory thus urges the creation of certain paterns of simultaneous variation and invariance - to determine which particular aspect is varied while other aspects remain invariant, such that the varying aspects are what wil be discerned or come to the fore of awarenes. This characterizes and brings about certain ways of experiencing. …we can only experience simultaneously that which we can discern; we can only discern that we experience to vary; and we can only experience variation if we have experienced diferent instances previously and are holding them in our awarenes simultaneously… (Marton et al., 2004, pg. 20).  The importance of a patern of simultaneous variation and invariance was demonstrated in Pang and Marton’s (2003) study, and was further underscored in a subsequent study they conducted in 2005. In the first paper, the economic concept of the distribution of tax burden betwen buyers and selers was focused upon. The paper featured two groups of teachers (five teachers each) teaching students in the age range 16-18 years. In the first group, the Japanese          26 leson study approach was employed (Stigler & Hiebert, 1999), whereby the leson plan was based on teachers collaboratively pooling their teaching experiences. The second group adopted the learning study approach, whereby the leson plan was likewise constituted through teachers collaboratively pooling their teaching experiences, but extended beyond to include the employment of theory of variation to help organize and implement student learning experiences. Comparing students’ understanding after the respective clasroom interventions, results revealed that fewer than 30% of the students in the leson study group developed a good grasp of the concept of incidence of sales tax, whereas over 70% of the students in the learning study demonstrated competency in grasping the dificult concept. The diferences in the student learning outcomes were interpreted in light of how the concepts were dealt with diferently in the clasrooms. That is, although teachers in both the leson and learning study groups introduced variation in the critical aspects of demand elasticity and supply elasticity, only teachers in the learning study group introduced variation in both aspects simultaneously. Thus the diference in learning outcome was interpreted in light of this diferent patern of simultaneous variation and invariance.  Pang and Marton (2005) subsequently carried out another study that served to reiterate the saliency of paterns of simultaneous variation and invariance in promoting student learning. (The study was also reported in Marton and Pang (2006).) The object of learning was the development of 16-18 year old students’ ability to take into acount the relative magnitude of change in demand and supply when determining the change in the market price of a commodity. Two teachers were asigned to the learning study group whereas three teachers were in the leson study group. Similar to the previous study (Pang & Marton, 2003), both groups were aforded opportunities to plan the lesons based on the pooling of colective expertise and          27 experiences. This study, however, difered from the previous one in that the planning of the lesons also drew on student pre-leson test and interviews administered, whereas the previous study relied on results of a pilot study conducted by the researchers. The diference betwen the leson and learning study group, again, hinged on whether theory of variation was employed as a theoretical framework or not. This study provided deeper insights into the importance of the paterns of simultaneous variation and invariance enacted. What is interesting is that teachers in both the leson and learning study groups employed paterns of variation and invariance. Both planned a sequential variation in the change of demand and the change in supply, to be followed by a simultaneous variation in the change in demand and supply, as wel as the relative magnitude of the change. However, a higher ratio of students in the learning study group was able to demonstrate the object of learning than in the leson study group - evident in both the post-leson test and student interviews. The authors atributed the diferences in students’ performance to four diferences in the enacted object of learning, which was aluded when one applied the theory of variation to aid in the interpretation of student learning experiences. In short, what was demonstrated is that the learning study group introduced variation in supply and demand in a more systematic and thorough way. What is equaly noteworthy was that the use of theory of variation as a framework for analysis revealed diferences in the learning context, elucidating more clearly the diferences in the diferent paterns of variation and invariance enacted and how they subsequently brought about diferences in student learning outcomes.    The application of theory of variation to determine the paterns of variation and invariance to be used in clasroom instruction was also carried out in other grade levels. Pang et al. (2006) demonstrated how Grade 4 teachers participating in a learning study also made use of paterns of variation and invariance in their clasroom teaching. This granted students          28 opportunities to reflect on the variation of demand while keeping the supply and the types of good invariant; the variation of the supply while keeping the demand and the types of goods invariant; and the simultaneous variations on the supply of the goods as wel as the variation in the purchasing power of people (demand for the goods).   The application of theory of variation in clasroom teaching was also reported to improve Grade 3 students’ learning about the color of light in Hong Kong (Lo et al., 2006). Within the context of a learning study, teachers were sensitized to the variation in students’ ways of understanding the formation of rainbows. The insights drawn, coupled with the teachers’ own teaching experiences, enabled the teachers to organize their clasroom instruction using paterns of variation. Of interest here was how the paterns of variation and invariance were extended beyond the inclusion of critical aspects of an object of learning to include variation in how these aspects could be represented. In the study, students were given opportunities to understand the concept of the spliting and recombination of white light through the use of diferent objects (such as prisms, soap bubbles) and analogies, while keeping invariant the key concepts that the analogies refer to. In the same vein, Runeson and Mok (2004) likewise support the use of such paterns of variation. The authors presented a clasroom leson that aimed at helping students engage with the mathematical concept of transformation of shapes - “the postman’s route”. In the leson, students were presented with the task of having to join nine dots on a paper to determine the route a postman (taking up one dot on the paper) had to take in order to deliver a leter to each of the eight places (represented by the other 8 dots). The leson demonstrated how the presentation of diferent solutions to solve the same mathematical problem creates a dimension of variation whereby students could reflect on various aspects of the solutions presented. Firstly, students could discern possible routes from          29 impossible ones, and subsequently, possible routes from best routes (that were chosen based on the shortest possible route). Secondly, students had to discern the regularities exhibited by the shapes of the set of “best routes”, drawing students’ atention to the rotations and reflections of the shapes (transformation of the shapes).   It is worth mentioning that Lo et al. (2006) reported that the use of analogies to help students discern the part-whole relationship betwen white light and the rainbow was not as efective as they envisioned. In the evaluation of the leson, they hypothesized that students may also need to experience simultaneous variation in the light source and variation in the spectrum formed. The “postman’s route” leson may shed light and support such a hypothesis. While both studies made use of variations in analogies/representations, in the “postman’s route” leson, these variations were followed up by opportunities to experience the variations of the critical aspects - students were asked to discern the regularities exhibited by the shapes of the set of “best routes”. This was a mising step in Lo et al.’s study.   In a study conducted by Linder et al. (2006), it was decided upon to focus on the need to conceptualy discern “what is” and “what is not” for an appropriate application of Newton’s third law. Selected first-year physics students in a university in Cape Town were interviewed. A force concept inventory (Hestenes, Wels & Swackhamer, 1992) was also used to reveal students’ conceptions. Coupled with the use of physics education literature to reveal critical features in learning Newton’s third law, and responses from colleagues who engaged in a discussion forum about the ideas around the literature, the most critical feature of learning Newton’s third law was decided upon. The authors felt it was important for students, when learning about Newton’s third law, to decide on a system and consistently use that system in          30 their analysis. A comparison was made betwen the “ad hoc” clas and the “variation” clas. The later was given opportunities through a case study to systematicaly vary the forces acting on an object (a horse), and subsequently the ones acting on the cart atached to the horse. The diferences in learning outcomes betwen the two groups were atributed to the paterns of variation used, with the authors aserting that variation offered a systematic and efective way of promoting discernment and thus alowing students to beter understand Newton’s third law.   In the study of Fraser et al., 2006, the use of variation to enhance learning in engineering was supported. The design of the study draws from the notion of a learning study to identify the key aspects of the learning situation. An object of learning was crafted around university students having to learn about the proces of distilation. Subsequently, a computer pre-simulation test was run to ascertain third year engineering students’ knowledge of distilation. The insights gained from the pre-test led to the planning and implementation of the learning experiences, whereby a set of exercises was modified based on the pre-simulation test results. The simulation exercise implemented required students to increase the purity of a distilate by varying the number of trays in the columns as wel as the fed tray location. A similar study enhancing university students’ learning of engineering was conducted by Fraser, Pilay, Tjatindi and Case (2007). Drawing from the notion of learning study, the study focused on enhancing students’ learning of fluid mechanics using computer simulations. The simulations were developed based on paterns of variation and invariance, drawing also from the results of a “Fluid Mechanics Concept Inventory” (Martin, Mitchel & Newel, 2003) administered. In the first simulation, fluid velocity was varied, while in the second, the diameter was varied to show the changes in velocity and energy through a pipeline. In the third, students can vary the velocity of each of the plates and observe the changes in the velocity profile betwen the plates. What          31 was underscored was that the simulations were highly visual in nature, and were useful to aid students’ visualization of abstract concepts.   The studies mentioned above (Fraser et al., 2006, 2007; Linder et al., 2006), alongside others (Fraser & Linder, 2009; Linder & Fraser, 2009), ilustrate how the variation approach has great potential for enhancing higher education engineering, science and mathematics students’ learning in complex learning environments. What is also noteworthy is that the diference betwen their studies and that of Pang and Marton’s (2003, 2005) is that in the former, the researchers themselves were also directly involved in the interventions, whereas Pang and Marton worked with teachers who enacted the teaching of the research lesons.  In a more recent study, Pang (2009) extended the employment of a theory of variation-framed learning study to enhance a domain-specific capability. His study semed to be amongst the first learning studies of such nature. The study aimed to help Grade 12 students develop not only the understanding of a specific concept, but also their financial literacy. The later was deemed as a kind of domain-specific generic capability - students’ ability to handle complex, everyday financial situations. Using a similar approach as previous studies (Pang & Marton, 2003, 2005), twelve teachers participated in the study – six working in a learning study group, while the other six, in a leson study group. Pang’s study sems to also be amongst the first learning studies to employ multiple student post-leson tests to capture the impact of the research lesons over a prolonged period of time. Compared to previous learning studies that typicaly employed one student pre-leson and one post-leson test, Pang’s approach difered by having three post-leson tests – one following the research lesons, and delayed postests six weks and six months after instruction. The pre-leson and first post-leson tests had identical          32 questions, while new questions were used in the subsequent delayed post-leson tests. The study reported on how students belonging to the learning study group outperformed the leson study group in al three post-leson tests conducted, with a persistent and even widening performance gap observed over time. The diferences in learning outcomes were atributed to how the teachers in the learning study group employed theory of variation in the organization and enactment of the object of learning, with the use of more systematic paterns of variation and invariance.    The recent employment of a theory of variation-framed learning study to enhance a domain-specific capability was also reported in Cheung’s (2009) study, which focused on the generic capability of creativity in Chinese writing. In the study, the teachers handled the object of learning in diferent ways by creating diferent paterns of variation and invariance. This resulted in diferent student learning outcomes.   The studies reviewed above, and other studies (e.g., Pang and Marton, 2007), ilustrate how theory of variation, when employed within a learning study, can help to enhance student learning. A review of literature also revealed studies in which the notions of theory of variation were supported outside the context of a learning study. These studies likewise foreground the importance of paterns of variation and invariance, and provide compeling evidence that the explicit use of variation can make a diference to student learning outcomes. For example, the books What Matters? Discovering Critical Conditions of Classroom Learning (Marton & Morris, 2002) and Classroom Discourse and the Space of Learning (Marton & Tsui, 2004) provide examples that foreground enacted objects of learning that arose primarily from practice-based insights. These insights occasionaly ilustrate principles that were compatible with theory          33 of variation (Marton and Morris, 2002), thus aiding to define and refine the theory. For instance, Kwan, Ng and Chik (2002) (in Marton & Morris, 2002) described a teacher showing his students a video of a sloth a number of times. Each viewing focused on a diferent critical aspect of the sloth, such as its appearance, its movements. The patern of variation created thus alowed for diferent aspects of the sloth to be brought into focal awarenes, and thus something new can be learnt about the sloth with each repetition. (The same example was also cited in Marton and Tsui (2004)). Fraser and Linder (2009) mentioned this example, along with that of Runeson and Marton (2002), to ilustrate the need for purposeful repetition as a tool to foster reflective learning (Linder & Marshal, 2003; Marton & Trigwel, 2000).   Before concluding this subsection, it is worth mentioning that if the aim of learning is to develop a certain way of experiencing, paterns of variation and invariance should be thought of in context of the learning experience rather than in terms of teaching methods (Bowden & Marton, 1998). In other words, the starting focal point of a learning study should be on what should be learned – the kind of capabilities to be developed and hence a focus on the way in which the object of learning is dealt with (Bowden & Marton, 1998). Such a focus may be deemed valuable, especialy in light of Seidel, Rimele and Prenzel’s (2005) study that ilustrates how goal clarity and coherence (equivalent to a clear focus on the object of learning) resulted in positive competence development.              34 2.2.3 Pedagogy of awarenes, building of relevance structure and establishment of common ground    In the context of theory of variation-framed learning studies, the potential for teachers to be aware of students’ prior experiences of the object of learning was ilustrated. Within a learning study, the shared space of learning can be created and widened through the use of pilot test results (e.g., Pang & Marton, 2003); administration of pre-leson test and/or interviews (e.g., Pang & Marton, 2005); and/or the use of inventories (e.g., Linder et al., 2006) to reveal the diferent ways students experience the object of learning. This was ilustrated in the studies reviewed in Section 2.2.2. The results were drawn upon during leson planning and implementation, guiding the constitution of the object of learning as wel as the design of paterns of variation to be enacted. For example, in Pang and Marton’s (2005) study, student pre-leson test and interviews were conducted. The phenomenographic analysis revealed a distribution of conceptions that represented five qualitatively diferent ways of understanding changes in price, ordered in increasing complexity. Only one student displayed the most complex conception, that is, to discern the relative magnitude of changes in demand and supply. Consequently, this novel way of understanding changes in price was deemed by the teachers to be a worthwhile ability for students to acquire, and thus constituted the object of learning for the study - to understand changes in price in terms of the changes in demand and supply, while concurrently taking into acount the relative magnitude of changes in both aspects. This influenced how the teachers in the learning study group proceded to plan and enact paterns of variation and invariance in order to help students discern the critical aspects of the object of learning.            35 A later study (Pang et al., 2006) that also involved students learning the economic concept of price likewise demonstrated how a “pedagogy of awarenes” (Marton & Booth, 1997) could be developed from the implementation of theory of variation in the clasroom. What was ilustrated in the study, as was likewise demonstrated in other studies (Fraser et al., 2006, 2007; Linder et al., 2006; Lo et al., 2006; Pang & Marton, 2003; 2005), is the ‘mutual awarenes’ that was promoted betwen teachers and learners. The “negotiation” of the space of learning could be deemed collaborative, in view that the critical aspects of an object of learning were determined empiricaly. In other words, the critical aspects of an object of learning were drawn from students’ “real” experiences, which were uncovered through the pre-leson tests and/or interviews within the learning study. What is underscored is that the characterization of the variation betwen qualitatively diferent ways of experiencing something cannot rest on a priori analysis, but is empiricaly grounded (Marton & Booth, 1997). Such a characterization is taken into consideration together with teachers’ own experiences and ways of experiencing the object of learning (Booth, 1997; Pang et al., 2006) to determine the critical aspects of the object of learning, as wel as the organization and implementation of student learning experiences. In doing so, the “common ground” betwen the teacher and learners can be widened (Bowden & Marton; 1998; Marton & Booth, 1997; Marton et al., 2004; Tsui, 2004). Thus, “pedagogy of awarenes” can be promoted via variation in students’ ways of experiencing the object of learning, variation in teachers’ ways of experiencing the object of learning, and the use of variation (theory) as a pedagogical tool to enhance student learning. What is also emphasized is the notion of  “relevance structure” - a “way in which the personal context is making certain aspects of the particular situation appear more important than others, making them come to the fore, while others remain in the background” (Bowden & Marton, 1998, p. 38); that there must          36 be a match betwen what is figural and ground for both the teacher and the students (Marton & Booth, 1997; Marton & Tsui, 2004, Tsui, 2004).  Foregrounding the importance of widening the common ground and establishing relevance structure, the deliberate use of case studies or examples that are relevant to students has been emphasized in the research studies. For example, in Pang and Marton’s (2005) study, case studies such as the price of chicken that were afected by bird flu; the price of VCDs; and the price of a popular “toy rocket” were used as entry points to probe for students’ understandings. Also, the case study of the facemask market was used when SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) hit Hong Kong. This exemplified the way teachers established a context for learning, that is, as a way to bring students an experience of the abstract economic concept of changes in price in a meaningful way. In “the postman’s route” leson (Runeson & Mok, 2004), the real-life context of a postman delivering leters helped the students to learn about the abstract mathematical concept of transformations.  Another noteworthy consideration is how revealing students’ experiences point to the qualitatively diferent ways in which the phenomenon is experienced, as opposed to merely capturing conceptions as right or wrong. As such, an understanding can be appreciated in terms of part-whole relationships - a learner’s idea can be appreciated as partial rather than wrong (Marotn & Booth, 1997). The power of such a perspective is that conceptions are les easily brushed aside and relegated as problematic. Rather, they can be used to constitute the object of learning, or as ways to understand the phenomenon from the learner’s eyes. The importance of students’ prior experience is, however, not an exclusive premise of theory of variation. Students’ prior knowledge making a diference to what is learned next, both in facilitating and inhibiting          37 learning, is a basic tenet of constructivism (Driver & Erickson, 1983; Erickson, 2000). Similarly, the conceptual change theory (Posner et al., 1982), an outgrowth of constructivist epistemology (Hewson & Hewson, 1984; Tyson, Venvile, Harrison & Treagust, 1997), explicates the role of prior knowledge in students’ learning (Gilbert & Wats, 1983; Pintrich, Marx, & Boyle, 1993). Both conceptual change theory and theory of variation contend that learning is simply the addition of new knowledge (Hewson & Hewson, 1984; Marton & Booth, 1997). And although the employment of theory of variation within a learning study may also lead to conceptual change, the student tests and interviews conducted within the context of a learning study were not used primarily to “measure” the presence or degree of conceptual change. Neither was the identification of “wrong answers” its primary intent.   2.3 Theory of variation as a tool to interpret students’ learning experiences  The comparison of student pre- and post-leson tests and interviews was typicaly employed to evaluate students’ learning within a learning study. Together with clasroom evaluations (conducted by teachers and/or researcher/s) and analyses of video-recoded lesons, the tests and interviews aid to uncover the changes in the ways students have experienced the object of learning (e.g., Lo et al., 2006; Pang et al., 2006; Pang & Marton, 2003, 2005). As consistent with a phenomenographic approach, these qualitatively diferent ways of experiencing were often captured as categories that were presented in a hierarchical fashion. The increase of percentages within a “higher order” category after clasroom intervention would suggest that learning has taken place, since learning is appreciated as the ability to experience in more complex and advanced ways. In contrast, in Pang’s (2009) recent study, the ordering of the categories was based on the number of dimensions of the variation of critical features considered instead - due to the focus on a domain-specific generic capability and their belief that          38 there is no single definitive way of understanding il-defined authentic financial problems. In his study, answers that demonstrated the inclusion of more critical aspects of the phenomenon were deemed as being more sophisticated and of a “higher level”.   As observed in the studies reviewed earlier (Section 2.2), phenomenographic perspectives and theory of variation were drawn upon to interpret the impact of clasroom intervention on students’ learning. Students’ learning experiences were further explored in terms of how changes in these learning experiences (or lack of them) could be understood with respect to the paterns of variation and invariance enacted, and what were consequently at the fore of awarenes of the students. Thus, the conditions that were shaping the possibilities of what could be experienced could be evaluated (Marton & Booth, 1997; Runeson, 2006), even as the lived object of learning (what students learnt) was examined in light of the enacted object of learning (how the object of learning was dealt with). Consequently, suggestions could be made to further enhance students’ learning, as was observed in Lo et al.’s (2006) study, as wel as that of Fraser et al.’s (2006, 2007).  Extending beyond a learning study context, there are several studies that also ilustrate how the principles behind theory of variation were used to interpret the enacted and lived objects of learning. For example, Runeson and Mok (2004) cited the clasroom discourse of “the postman’s route” to reiterate the importance of the creation of dimensions of variation to enhance student’s learning. Similarly, Chik and Lo (2004), in citing a case study of Chinese language lesons, emphasized the importance of these paterns that aforded students the simultaneous experience of context (relevance), whole and parts. Tsui, Marton, Mok & Ng (2004) highlighted, through the descriptions of the physics lesons implemented (on electricity),          39 the importance of appropriate clasroom discourse - particularly the use of questions and language to help students to focus on various critical aspects, while Tsui (2004) underscored the saliency of establishing common ground. What is interesting is that theory of variation can also be used to re-interpret a clasroom discourse. For example, Runesons’ (2005) study involved a re-analysis of a mathematics clasroom. The study revealed the constraints and possibilities on what it is possible to learn in light of theory of variation.   2.4 Potential for teacher learning  Within this chapter, the review of literature revealed how teachers learnt to handle the object of learning by (1) paying atention to the qualitatively diferent ways in which the object of learning could be experienced by the learners; (2) using these emerged understandings to determine the object of learning and critical aspects, and subsequently, (3) to guide the enactment of the object of student learning based on designed paterns of simultaneous variation and invariance. What is worth reiterating is that although previous studies focusing on the learning study have thus pointed to the potential of learning study to promote teacher development, there appears to be relatively few published studies explicitly addresing this area of interest. Pang (2006) and Davies and Dunnil’s (2008) studies are amongst the published works that ilustrate the gaining of interest in this aspect.    Pang’s (2006) paper reported an investigation of how a theory of variation-framed learning study influenced ten in-service teachers’ ways of experiencing teaching economics (sales tax incidence). The teachers were interviewed individualy before the start of the learning study, with the aim of uncovering the teachers’ views on teaching economics and how they conceived good economics teaching. A follow-up interview was conducted at the end of the          40 study to examine whether the teachers had developed diferent ways of experiencing teaching economics. Using a phenomenographic analysis, five qualitatively diferent ways of experiencing teaching economics were identified. In view that learning was sen as a qualitative change in one’s way of experiencing, such that the learner experiences a phenomenon in a more complex way than before, the author demonstrated that teachers learnt profesionaly. Pang also made the claim that the teachers semed to have demonstrated a more complex way of experiencing the teaching of economics in acordance to the hierarchicaly arranged ways of experiencing teaching. Most of the teachers were reported to have shifted their focus from a teacher-centered to a more student-focused approach; from teaching towards student learning; from knowledge and/or skils towards a way of understanding the phenomenon; and from the school context towards multiple contexts. Although there was no explicit mention of how theory of variation influenced the teachers’ learning, one can appreciate that a focus on students’ understanding and learning is a basic tenet of theory of variation. In addition, a shift in atention to focus on understanding a phenomenon, or to be mindful of the variations in contexts to be taken into consideration, suggest how the theory might have influenced the teachers. This study thus lend support for more studies to pursue a similar line of inquiry to uncover the learning that teachers experience in the context of a theory of variation-framed learning study.   In Davies and Dunnil’s (2008) study, rather than implementing a study with in-service teachers, the authors adopted the learning study framework as part of a “plan-teach-review” model in initial teacher education. The trainee teachers were preparing to teach busines and economics, as wel as design and technology, in secondary schools in the UK. The learning study approach implemented largely resembled that of Pang and Marton’s (2003, 2005), and aimed to help trainee teachers to progres to more sophisticated conceptions of teaching.          41 Because the authors deemed the demands of uncovering students’ ways of experiencing a phenomenon using a phenomenographic approach limiting - in terms of its practicability as a routine part of teachers’ practice, the trainees participating in the learning study were encouraged to gather data on students’ conceptions through alternative approaches. Another diference betwen the learning study implemented in Davies and Dunnil’s study from that of Pang and Marton’s is in the use of a “learning outcome circle”. Based on the theory of variation, the circle alowed the trainees to map out the features of any particular conception, rather than the typical mapping of critical aspects of a phenomenon. As such, variation theory was used in a more “general” sense in their study. The results of the study indicated how the learning study was used efectively as a vehicle for the trainee teachers to develop new ways to think about students’ experience of learning. Especialy with the help of a “learning outcome circle”, the trainees’ thinking during the planning stage gained greater clarity. The results of the study also supported a proposition made in their earlier paper (Davies & Dunnil, 2006) - by providing a basis for focusing teaching on the transformation from everyday understanding to more sophisticated, academic understandings of particular phenomena, theory of variation addresed the problem of separation betwen students’ everyday and school knowledge. However, in the study, there was no explicit mention of the trainee teachers’ acount of how the theory could have influenced their own pedagogy beyond a sensitization to the diferent ways their students can approach the topic of interest.   In Chiu’s study (2005) (an unpublished thesis), a Grade 10 Chemistry teacher’s participation in the learning study was reported. The results ilustrated how the teacher’s views on teacher collaboration and teachers-as-researchers have broadened; how her goals of teaching has changed; and how her pedagogy was influenced. For example, the teacher came to a          42 realization that teachers were not only knowledge transmiters. She also came to a realization that collaboration could be employed in a way whereby teachers can work together as researchers to improve their teaching and to enhance their own profesional development. The teacher also developed a stronger desire to learn after participation in the learning study. Alongside the rest of the learning studies, Chiu’s study thus lends support for the current research study. In seking to further elucidate the diferent ways teachers could experience learning in a learning study, the potential of a learning study as an approach for teacher profesional development could be explored.  2.5 Theory of variation as applied in this research study Consistent with research literature (Lo et al., 2004, 2006; Pang & Marton, 2003, 2005; Pang et al., 2006), theory of variation was employed as a theoretical framework in this current study to guide collaborating teachers in the designing and teaching of genetics lesons, and the subsequent evaluation of students’ learning. The strength and beauty of the theory, as exemplified in literature, lies in its potential to be used as a learning theory that offers a way of looking at learning, as a theory of instruction (Lo et al., 2006), as wel as an analytical tool to understand student learning. This study also extends the use of the theory to the topic of transcription and translation in genetics, and to the educational context of a Singaporean clasroom.   The methodological framework in this study also draws upon theory of variation to design the learning study, aiding in the organization and implementation of teacher learning experiences. Learning could thus be appreciated as teachers developing a capability to experience various aspects of teaching in more advanced or complex ways that they did          43 previously. In this way, they could have learnt profesionaly. This perspective helped to frame an understanding of the teachers’ own learning in the learning study. What is foreground was how conditions that might encourage certain types of learning were thoughtfully and carefully set up through paterns of variation and invariance. A review of literature sems to indicate that the explicit use of theory of variation as a methodological framework to organize and implement teacher learning experiences within a learning study has not been extensively reported. Nonetheles, the analysis carried out by Pang (2006), which borrows the same view of learning from phenomenography and theory of variation to understand teacher learning, lends support for the way the theory was used in the current study. Moreover, having applied theory of variation in two diferent ways within the current study - to facilitate and understand both student and teacher learning, it lends support for the employment of theory of variation as the theoretical framework for the entire study.          44 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY AND METHODS EMPLOYED  In this chapter, the use of a phenomenographic perspective to understand learning is further described. Subsequently, the learning study approach is introduced in greater detail, leading to the description of the learning study implemented in this study. The data sources and data analysis proces are also described, followed by a discussion on how I have situated myself in this study. This chapter concludes with a discussion on the trustworthines, reliability and validity of the study.   3.1 Using a phenomenographic perspective to understand learning  Phenomenography, as a research approach, is appropriate in this study because of its relational nature – that phenomenography aims to describe an aspect of the world as it appears or is experienced by an individual (Marton, 1986). Its second-order perspective (Marton, 1981), which posits a focus on the participant’s ways of experiencing something, is particularly useful as it is consistent with the research questions of the current study that aimed at elucidating how teachers learn about their own pedagogy. What teachers say about their own experiences and learning could be analyzed and reported by the researcher.   The qualitatively diferent ways in which teachers experience various aspects of learning, as promoted by a learning study context, can be mapped by a phenomenographic approach. The interest of phenomenography lies in the capturing of the variation and change in capabilities for experiencing the world, or rather, in capabilities for experiencing particular phenomena (Marton & Booth, 1997). Complimented by the theoretical perspective of learning          45 offered by theory of variation, what is mapped has the potential of capturing changes that indicate how teachers would have experienced a particular critical aspect of their profesional lives in a more advanced way (in the context of the current study). This subsequently points to how they learnt about their own pedagogy.   The primary outcomes of phenomenographic research are categories of descriptions comprising of distinct groups of aspects of the phenomenon and the relationships betwen them, as opposed to information linked to individuals experiencing the phenomenon (Marton & Booth, 1997). These sets of categories of description, termed also as the “outcome space” (Marton, 1981; Marton & Booth, 1997), can thus capture the complex of diferent ways that teachers collectively experience learning in the context of a learning study. Marton (1986) posits that to read and clasify descriptions of a phenomenon is not merely the sorting of data, but the search for most distinctive characteristics that appear in those data – that it is a search for structuraly significant diferences that clarify how people define some specific portion of the world.   Acording to Marton and Booth (1997), these individual categories typicaly reveal something distinct about a particular way of experiencing the phenomenon. The categories are also constituted in a parsimonious fashion (as few categories were explicated as is feasible and reasonable), as consistent with the asumption that there are a limited number of qualitatively diferent ways to experience the phenomenon. The qualitatively diferent ways of experiencing depict diferences betwen and within individuals. Pang (2006), for example, has ilustrated the use of these perspectives to capture five qualitatively diferent ways of experiencing teaching economics. He argued that teachers demonstrated a more complex way of experiencing the teaching of economics after participating in a learning study, which was ilustrated by shifts in          46 the categories formed. Similarly, in my study, descriptions of individual teacher’s experiences could be captured. As consistent with phenomenography, the “categories of descriptions” subsequently constructed, revealing teachers’ collective experiences, were constructed as emergent themes.  3.1.1 The hierarchical relationship of categories The sets of categories of description that are constructed through a phenomenographic approach stand in logical relationship with one another and form hierarchical relationships, whereby certain ways of experiencing are deemed more advanced than others (Marton, 1981; Marton & Booth, 1997). In the case of student learning, this hierarchical structure directs teachers to what they should be atending to in order to widen the space of learning. For example, in Lai’s (1996) study, phenomenographic perspectives were used to capture three qualitatively diferent types of undergraduate students’ conceptualization of meiosis (a genetic topic) as wel as four qualitatively diferent types of approaches taken when students addresed a problem involving a haploid organism (Ascobolus sp.). The diferent ways of conceptualization and approaches were presented as categories of description that were ordered.  The ordering of categories was also ilustrated in Pang and Marton’s (2005) study, whereby the conception of one student was deemed a novel and most complex way of experiencing change in price. In view of a learning study’s potential in helping teachers enhance students’ learning of genetics, the categorization of students’ learning in my study (although not reported in detail) were likewise ordered. However, the capturing of teachers’ experiences in the current study varied from that of Pang’s (2006). The interest of the current study lies in capturing the varied ways in which teachers learn rather than their experiences or conceptions of          47 teaching a specific subject. In addition, the “categories” in the current study were not ordered, but were presented as emergent themes. This is because it was not the intention of this study to deem one aspect of teacher learning to be more advanced than another. Rather, the intention was that in capturing the variation in teachers’ learning experiences, the variety of learning opportunities aforded by the learning study context could be explored.   3.2 The learning study approach The concept of a learning study was inspired by a combination of the “leson study approach” - systematic eforts of Japanese (Stigler & Hiebert, 1999) and Chinese teachers (Ma, 1999) to conduct in-depth studies of particular lesons, and the idea of design experiments (Brown, 1992; Collins, 1992, 1999). Leson studies in Japan and China highlight collaboration amongst teachers to improve teaching and students’ learning. They also posit a focus on a specific object of learning - a capability or value to be developed during a single leson or over a longer period of time (Pang & Marton, 2003, 2005). Drawing also from design experiments, which aims to “engineer innovative educational environments and simultaneously conduct experimental studies of those innovations” (Brown, 1992, p. 141), learning study also encourages teachers to inquire about their own practice within the context of the clasroom. A leson study can be deemed as an approach to encourage teachers to become researchers in their own clasrooms as wel. But because design experiments are often theoreticaly grounded and can be appreciated as intervention research designed to combine the instrumental and theory-oriented functions of research activities (Collins, 1992, 1999), the inclusion of ideas around design experiments serves to compensate for the lack of a theoretical frame in the design of a leson study (Pang & Marton, 2003). The drawing of the strengths of the two diferent          48 approaches (leson studies and design experiments) constitutes what Pang and Marton (2003, 2005) would deem as the aims of learning study. Firstly, it aims to build innovative learning environments and to conduct research studies of theoreticaly grounded innovations. Secondly, it aims to pool teachers’ valuable experiences in one or a series of research lesons to improve teaching and student learning. In the rest of this section, the steps of the learning study are presented, and the key features of a learning study are discussed in greater detail. The later also serves to support the use of learning study in the context of the current study - as an approach to encourage teacher learning and profesional development.  3.2.1 Steps in a learning study  The main steps of a learning study (Lo et al., 2006; Pang & Marton, 2003, 2005) are summarized below. Although the learning study typicaly progresed through these steps, the steps are not always in a fixed sequence. Some steps might occur simultaneously, and some might be revisited during iteration cycles (Lo et al., 2006). 1. Choosing and defining the (intended) object of learning. 2. Ascertaining students’ pre-understandings and identifying the critical aspects of the object of learning, through in-depth study of the object of learning and analyses of diagnostic pre-tests and/or student interviews to ascertain their pre-understandings. 3. Planning the research leson, with the teachers and/or researcher (facilitator) working together to establish a course of action grounded in the theory adopted.  4. Implementing and observing the research lesons. Post-leson conferences are held after each cycle of the research leson to review the leson unit.  5. Evaluating the research leson. Pre- and post-leson tests comparisons are typicaly used to reveal students’ development of the intended capability.           49 6. Reporting and diseminating the results, including documenting and reporting the aims, procedures and results of the atempt; and distributing the resulting document to other teachers or to the public.   3.2.2 Collaborative aspect of learning study Teachers’ sharing of practices and knowledge as part of their profesional development has long been acknowledged and valued. There is increasing literature foregrounding the need for teachers to work as members of a community (e.g., Arbaugh, 2003; Lieberman, 2000; Nelson & Slavit, 2007; Shulman & Sherin, 2004; Wineburg & Grossman, 1998). The studies highlight the importance of reflection, collaboration, and inquiry as teachers work to transform their clasroom practice - to acquire greater depth in curriculum instruction and asesment; to solve problems; to construct knowledge and build up theories; and to form and re-form frameworks for understanding their teaching practice (Chan & Pang, 2006; Litle, 2001). Acording to Hargreaves (1992), collaborative cultures that share and discuss ideas and resources are absolutely central to teachers’ daily work. They are naturaly found in the “minutiae of school life” (Hargreaves, 1992, p. 226). Hobson (1996) similarly mentioned how teachers can almost always be found sharing anecdotes about their experiences with children. Drawing support from Schubert (1992) who deems that teling anecdotes enables the teler to bring experience into language, Hobson likewise regard teling anecdotes as a vital part of doing teacher research.   Within a learning study, opportunities for teachers to share their knowledge, “anecdotes” and stories are aforded via “leson-focused” collaborations. The value of such collaborations for teacher profesional development was widely recognized (e.g., Davies & Dunnil, 2008;          50 Hiebert, Galimore & Stigler, 2002; Pang, 2006; Stigler & Hiebert, 1999).  The Japanese leson study, as acounted for in detail by Stigler and Hiebert (1999), is an approach that exemplifies such collaboration – thus serving as an inspiration to the design of a learning study. (However, it difers from the learning study approach due to its lack of focus on a theoretical framework.) Stigler and Hiebert argued that the opportunities to work in groups to improve instruction have alowed the Japanese teachers to develop a shared language for describing and analyzing clasroom teaching, and to teach each other about teaching.   This proces of the development of a “shared language” was likewise evident in the learning study approach (Choy, 2006; Lo et al., 2004, 2006; Pang, 2006; Pang et al., 2006; Pang & Marton, 2003, 2005). Beyond the leson study, the nature of the collaboration aforded by a learning study not only alows for teachers to use, pool and examine their profesional knowledge and clasroom practices, but that these can be informed and shaped by the learning theory employed. Arbaugh’s (2003) study similarly foregrounds both the collaborative and theoretical aspects, even as teachers found that their participation in the study group helped deepen connections betwen theory, beliefs and practice. The author atributed such connections to the conscious efort made to ground many of the discussions in theory. Arbaugh’s study lends support that a learning theory may constitute a new or diferent language given to experience, opening the collective’s possibilities into new ays of thinking and hence learning (e.g., Davies & Dunnil, 2008).   The collaborative nature of learning study, akin to leson study, may also alow for a “benchmarking proces” that teachers can use to gauge their own skils - when they reflect on          51 their own practice, and identify things that can be improved upon (Stigler & Hiebert, 1999). As Hiebert et al. (2002) aptly describes - what is discovered wil be communicable because it is discovered in the context of group discussion. Collaboration, then, becomes esential for the development of profesional knowledge, not because collaborations provide teachers with social support groups but because collaborations forces their participants to make their knowledge public and understood by colleagues. (Hiebert et al., 2002, p. 7)   In the same vein, Marton (1994b) posits that a teacher’s personal experiences do not suffice when it comes to preparing students for a wide range of future situations. He supports making a pool of collective knowledge explicit, since it may alow for one to transcend one’s personal experiences and taken-for-granted experiential world. Similarly, Bowden and Marton (1998) asert that teachers should learn from other teachers – to become aware of other people’s ways of seing in order that one’s understanding is enriched and therefore becomes more powerful. In this way, awarenes that resides in each individual becomes linked as teachers articulate their knowledge, forming a “collective consciousnes” (Bowden & Marton, 1998). Such a notion is also supported elsewhere (e.g., Nelson and Slavit, 2007).  In a learning study, what is also underscored is the reflection proces. Reflection as a way in which teachers learn has been widely recognized in research literature (e.g., Arbaugh, 2003; Clarke & Hollingsworth, 2002; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999; Fenwick, 2003; Francis, 1995; Goodnough, 2005; Schön, 1983, 1987; Shulman & Shulman; 2004; Tilema & Kremer-Hayon, 2000; Van Eekelen, Boshuszen & Vermunt, 2005). Collaboration within a learning study context has the potential to encourage reflection and articulation. Consequently, an internalization of a theory of what teachers are doing and why they are doing it (Chiu, 2005; Davies & Dunnil, 2008), and a kind of joint reflection about the relationship betwen proceses          52 and products, can occur. (The later constitutes a central characteristic of what Eliott (1991) would term as “action research”). Eliott also aligned this characteristic with that of Schön’s reflective practice (1983, 1987). Schön’s concerns on how to educate reflective practitioners led him to identify two reflective proceses, of which the first reflects the ability to mirror a reflective proces in the action itself, that is, a way of asesing actions in the proces of acting – reflection-in-action; while the second consist of working through experiences gained from actions after the experience – reflection-on-action.  3.2.3 Employment of a theoretical framework A review of literature has revealed that theory of variation was commonly employed as the theoretical framework in learning studies (e.g., Lo et al., 2004, 2006; Pang et al., 2006; Pang & Marton, 2003, 2005), although this specific theory need not always be the chosen theoretical framework. What was demonstrated through literature is the importance of employing a theoretical framework to guide the organization, implementation and interpretation of students’ learning experiences – as revealed in the literature review in Chapter 2. The review in Chapter 2 also ilustrated how the employment of theory encouraged teachers to learn about the object of student learning and how to handle it (e.g., Lo et al., 2006; Marton and Pang, 2003, 2005; Pang et al, 2006) (se Section 2.2.3). The development of such a capability is valuable, in light of Shulman’s (1986) conception of pedagogical content knowledge as one that “goes beyond knowledge of subject mater per se to the dimension of subject mater knowledge for teaching” (p. 9). It is the particular form of content knowledge that embodies the aspects of content most germane to its teachability. In addition, the experience of learning to use a learning theory to guide clasroom teaching encourages teachers to appreciate that a theoretical framework is          53 necesary, and “that it is not enough to reflect on tips and tricks for more popular or more eficient teaching” (Booth & Anderberg, 2005, p. 376).   3.2.4 Teachers as researchers Opportunities for teachers to inquire into their own teaching practices are valued as a form of profesional learning (e.g., Pedreti, 1996; Nelson & Slavit, 2007; Wels, 2001; Zack, 2006). Within the context of teachers’ own clasrooms, a learning study aims to create a platform whereby teachers can collectively “build innovative learning environments and to conduct research studies for the theoreticaly grounded innovations” (Pang & Marton, 2003, p. 179). This was a similar aim for design experiment (Brown, 1992). The learning study, however, difers from design experiment on the premise that in design experiment, as many variables afecting the teaching as possible can be studied, whereas learning study posits a narrower focus and addreses only the question of how a specific object of learning can be taught in a powerful way (Marton & Pang, 2006).   The notion of teachers conducting research in their own clasrooms as a way to inquire and improve their teaching practices strongly resonates with lines of inquiry involving action research. Earlier works, like that of Stenhouse (1975) (Stenhouse’s Humanities Project), have long recognized research as a necesary component of the work of every teacher, that is, teachers-as-researchers. Subsequent works focusing on improving learning and teaching have also developed (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999; Zeichner, 2003). It is worth mentioning at this point that the steps and collaborative aspect of a learning study could be deemed to resemble that of collaborative action research studies. It is not surprising then, that learning study could be, on one hand, sen as a form of action research (as was mentioned in Marton & Tsui, 2004).          54 However, one could also argue that learning study’s emphasis on a theoretical framework would distinguish both action research models from learning study.   The idea of collective evaluation of teachers’ lesons also compels one to look into the nature of such collaborative eforts. Employing an activity-theoretical framework to facilitate teachers collaborative planning, enactment and evaluation of curriculum unit, Engeström’s (1994) aserts that “thinking” is sen as embedded in practical collective activity. Similarly, within a learning study context, the opportunity for teachers to inquire into their own practices cannot be divorced from the collaborative nature of learning study. Engeström’s activity theory model also points to research on teachers’ learning communities, which are grounded in a “situated perspective”. Encompasing a situated and social-constructivist view of learning (Putnam & Borko, 2000), the notion of discourse communities sheds light on teachers sharing their varied understandings of pedagogy or their subject areas, whereby they collectively explore their beliefs and values about teaching and learning. The outcome space of learning within these “communities of practice” can thus be interpreted as the coming to a shared understanding of the impacts of their practices on students and/or the larger educational community (Lave & Wenger, 1991). What these works draw atention to, and urges, is to think about learning as a proces of social participation.   In a similar vein, and in view that learning study draws from leson study in its design, learning study can be argued to likewise ilustrate how such a proces of “social participation” could result in the emergence of joint ownership (Stigler & Hiebert, 1999). Acording to Stigler and Hiebert, the joint ownership alows for inquiry and critique of lesons to be critical, while escaping the sense of critiquing the individual teacher. Thus, the risk of offending colleagues          55 can be avoided. Consequently, the discussion can focus more pointedly and deeply on the merits and deficiencies of enacted lesons, and on revisions and improvements. Thus, the learning study, as similar to leson study, can be deemed to exemplify “critical colleagueship” - that collegiality wil need to support a critical stance toward teaching. This means more than simply sharing ideas or supporting one’s colleagues in the change proces. It means confronting traditional practice – the teachers’ own and that of his or her colleagues… (Lord, 1994, p. 192).   In the context of a learning study, Pang (2006) has likewise acounted for how teachers have had the chance to reflect upon one another’s teaching by having the opportunity to observe one another’s lesons. From the evaluation of trial lesons and the identification of areas of improvement, the teachers also learnt how to design instruction and enact any given object of learning in a more efective manner. Thus, Pang’s study lends support for learning study to promote teacher learning through teachers’ collaborative inquiry into their own practices. This propels one to further iluminate the nature of such proceses.  3.3 Method  In this section, the participants and the learning study implemented are described.  3.3.1 The participants The study involved a group of four Grade 10 biology teachers from an independent girls school in Singapore. Two teachers (Kate and Chris) had long teaching experiences and the other two (Pam and Amy) were considered les experienced in the profesion (se Table 3.1, names used are pseudonyms). School selection was based on its availability, and also because it had a “Profesional Development Group” (PDG) program. In the program, teachers were asigned into teams based on the grade level and subjects they taught. Each group was alocated one-hour          56 slots for wekly metings. The program aimed to create spaces for teachers to collaboratively work together to improve their practices. The participating teachers belonged to the same PDG teaching Grade 9 to 10 Biology, and the group was formed in December 2008. The selection of participants was based on their availability. In addition, 80 Grade 10 students, belonging to Pam, Amy and Chris’ clases also participated in the study. These students represent students in the highest level of academic atainment both in the school and in Singapore.  Table 3.1: Teaching experiences of the participating teachers.  Participant No. of years teaching Biology (yrs) Total no. of years in teaching (yrs) No. of times chosen topic was taught before Pam 3 3 0 Amy 3 3 1 Kate 7 15 1 Chris 5.5 14 1    3.3.2 Implementation of the learning study  Prior to the implementation of the study, research approval was obtained from the UBC Research Ethics Board. The design of the study drew from research and “learning study” proposed by Pang and Marton (2003, 2005). A total of 15 metings were conducted – a pre-learning study meting in October 2008, and subsequent metings betwen January 2009 to May 2009. Subsequent metings were always planned in lieu of what preceded before that. This was an atempt to introduce flexibility within the learning study, such that metings were enacted based on teachers’ readines to proced, and to best met their needs and the chalenges that emerged within the study. The metings are described below.            57 Meting 1: Introduction to the study (pre-learning study meeting) (19 October 2008)  The learning study started off with an introduction to the aims of the research study as wel as the learning study. How the participating teachers could be involved in the study, their level of involvement and the type of data collected were also discussed. Initialy, teachers expresed concern that their participation in this study would increase their workload, and have expresed their reluctance to spend time outside of the alocated metings on the study. Thus, the agreement was that as much as was possible, al related activities (including data collection by the researcher) should be carried out within the alocated hour. Coupled with their expresion of reluctance to spend time on writing reflective journals, wekly reflective journals were not used as a source of data. Rather, time alocated for reflection would be incorporated into the meetings whenever appropriate. In addition, research literature was introduced during metings with the important parts of the papers highlighted. The full papers were distributed at the end of the metings as optional readings.   The role of the researcher was also discussed during the meting, including a facilitator of discussions; organizer of metings; and a resource person who would introduce relevant literature, the learning study as wel as the theory of variation. The researcher would also conduct the student interviews and analyze the student data collected, as wel as record and prepare necesary documents for the metings.   The potential benefits of participating in the study, such as opportunities for teacher collaboration to enhance students’ learning, and to inquire into the teacher’s own teaching practice, were also presented to the teachers in the meting. Concerns regarding workload, their participation in the study, as wel as confidentiality isues were also addresed, along with other          58 concerns the teachers themselves expresed. The proposed timeline was also set, and it was agreed upon that the study should be implemented and completed within the first semester of the academic year (January 2009 – May 2009). Subsequently, consent was given by the teachers indicating their wilingnes to participate in the study, through the completion of consent forms.   Meting 2: First set of interviews conducted (5-9 January 2009) In place of a meting, the first set of semi-structured interviews was conducted by the researcher. Each interview lasted approximately an hour. The first part of the interview focused on teachers’ approaches to teaching and learning biology, and their beliefs about what good biology learning and teaching were. This part of the interview also probed for their current teaching practices, revealing the diferences in the ways they were teaching and what they perceived good teaching to be. (This set of data was useful as a probe for changes in their beliefs or practices after participation in the learning study, thus revealing how they learnt about their own pedagogy.) The second part of the interview focused on probing for their views on their own learning and profesional development. Some of the questions used in the interviews were inspired and modified from those found in research literature (Boulton-Lewis, Smith, McCrindle, Burnet & Campbel, 2001; Pang, 2006; Prosser, Trigwel & Taylor, 1994; Samuelowicz & Bain, 1992; Trigwel & Prosser, 1996, 2004; Wilson & Berne, 1999).   The data collected here was pivotal in the implementation of the rest of the learning study. The understandings that emerged from their epistemological and pedagogical views guided the implementation of the learning study – as consistent with the view that compatibility of the research study with the profesional values of teachers’ practice, and with their work conditions, should be strived for (Altrichter, Posch & Somekh, 1993). The insights that emerged          59 also served as a platform whereby future data (such as subsequent interviews) could be interpreted and understood.  In addition, the interviews also provided the teachers a platform to reflect on their own beliefs and practices. This step is akin to the “reconnaisance” phase in action research (Eliott, 1991), which involves teachers engaging in self-reflection to uncover their tacit practice values. Altrichter, et al. (1993) supports such a practice, aserting that interviews constitute a more or les meaningful and conscious learning proces for interviewes, whereby interviewes are made to think about a situation or an isue and interrelate experiences, thus potentialy gaining a deeper understanding. Other researchers also shared a similar view (Johansson et al., 1985; Marton, 1986). The interviews were transcribed verbatim, and the transcripts were given back to the interviewes once they were ready. In addition, the key points of the interviews were also verbaly summarized when the transcripts were given to the teachers, as a way to check for the degree of acuracy in the interpretations. This also provided an opportunity for further clarification of ambiguous parts of the transcripts.   Meting 3: Choosing the object of student learning (19 January 2009) This meting was alocated for teachers to determine the object of student learning, with the aim of helping teachers focus on students developing a capability in relation to specific content, thus encouraging a focus on students’ learning. Rather than a conventional reliance on the curriculum or textbook (as was revealed through the first set of teacher interviews), teachers were thus encouraged to experience leson planning diferently from before. The sesion started off with an overview of the learning study (introduction to its key features), and an introduction to the notion of an object of study. Subsequently, teachers’ atention was directed to their own          60 teaching experiences of teaching genetics and other biology topics. Time was alocated within the sesion to complete a Genetics Questionnaire (Appendix A) that probed for (1) the aspects of genetics that teachers felt were important to teach; (2) the chalenges they faced; (3) students’ areas of confusion; (4) how students made sense of genetics; as wel as (5) the teachers’ aims for teaching genetics. The questions crafted drew in part from teachers’ responses in the first set of interviews, and in part from research literature (Boulton-Lewis, Smith, McCrindle, Burnet & Campbel, 2001; Kobala, Gräber, Coleman & Kemp, 2000; Prosser et al., 1994; Samuelowicz & Bain, 1992; Trigwel & Prosser, 1996, 2004; Wilson & Berne, 1999). The Questionnaire, coupled with the opportunities carved out for discussions, constitute the deliberate atempts to encourage teachers to reflect on their teaching experiences, and to clarify the problem and chalenges faced in teaching the genetics curriculum. This set of data was useful in elucidating the teachers’ understandings of their teaching of genetics before participating a learning study, and was useful as a probe for changes in their beliefs or practices after participation in the learning study.  The Genetics Questionnaire also helped to direct teachers’ atention towards student learning. This part of the meting was organized based on the belief that teachers should develop an awarenes of their roles, pedagogy and beliefs about teaching and learning. These could wel be tacit and taken-for-granted; simultaneously present and residing in diferent layers of the teachers’ awarenes, although they may not always be explicit and clear (Marton, 1994). They are also pertinent as “teachers’ acts are afected- if not caused, or controlled – by the thoughts they have arrived at, the decisions they have made, the solutions to the problems they have found” (Marton, 1994b, p. 29). Thus, the first set of interviews and the Genetics Questionnaire aimed to bring some of these tacit aspects to the fore. Teachers subsequently          61 shared what they have writen as a way of pooling their experiences. In addition, because it was also the intention for teachers to base their pedagogical decisions on literature, that is, to incorporate literature as a way to bridge possible perceived gaps betwen theory and practice (Pang, 2006), research literature was also deliberately introduced at this point. The key chalenges that were reported in the teaching and learning of genetics were highlighted. In most cases, only highlighted parts or summaries of research papers were given, in view that during the pre-learning study meting and the first interviews, teachers expresed a reluctance to spend too much time on reading the articles and were asking for “bite-sized chunks”. The literature served as a springboard to propel the teachers towards a more in-depth exploration of the chalenges in teaching, and to link their personal experiences to literature.   In the course of the discussions, teachers encountered problems in coming to a collective decision about the object of learning that they wanted to work on. While this created a certain amount of frustration for the teachers and myself, what emerged was a sense that the topic of genetics, spanning across six chapters in the prescribed textbook, was large and dificult to approach holisticaly. What subsequently emerged was the suggestion to rearrange the genetic topics.   Meting 4: Introduction to theory of variation (2 February 2009) Theory of variation was introduced with the use of a PowerPoint slide presentation. The teachers were given a handout introducing the theory (Appendix B). The meting of awarenes and the architecture of paterns of variation and invariance were underscored, of which both were appreciated as ways to widen the space of learning. Theory of variation-framed learning studies were subsequently introduced. In view that one of the main criteria teachers use in          62 asesing any given “change” is the question whether students wil be interested and learn, and if there is evidence that the “change” works (Fullan, 2001), the potential of using theory of variation to enhance student learning was emphasized.   Meting 5: Determination of object of learning (9 February 2009) The meting started off with an example of how teaching experiences and research literature can be used to determine the object of student learning. The example drew upon a pilot study the researcher has implemented in another school in Singapore (se Diagram 3.1). It exemplified how critical aspects of an object of learning could be determined by taking into consideration the fit betwen the concepts to be taught and the beliefs of the teachers (what they viewed as important to teach). The later could be informed by research literature or the teachers’ own teaching experiences. These critical aspects could then be used to refine the initialy chosen object of student learning.    Diagram 3.1: The intended approach to help teachers determine the object of student learning.          63 The meting, however, proceded diferently from the plan as ilustrated in Diagram 3.1. The participating teachers were struggling to commit to an object of learning and could not proced to determine the critical aspects (step 3 in Diagram 3.1). They were not sure if they wanted to work on mitosis and meiosis, or on gene expresion (transcription and translation). Rather than determining the object of learning, the teachers decided to look into the rearrangement of key topics in genetics first, in order to gain a clearer and bigger picture of the whole genetics curriculum. The flow of the topics was subsequently termed as the “curricular flow”. This “change in plan” is demonstrative of how teachers were granted the autonomy to co-determine the steps of the learning study, as supported by researchers such as Altrichter et al. (1993).  The participating teachers proceded to map out the key genetic topics onto a large piece of paper. The relationships betwen the topics were explored. The links that were often not articulated nor stated in the prescribed syllabus were also brought to the fore of their discussion. The space created here not only alowed teachers to pool their valuable experiences, but have also encouraged the articulation of concepts and aspects that were often “taken-for-granted” when teaching genetics. The teachers semed to have taken a more holistic approach to the genetics curriculum than observed in prior metings. They subsequently pinpointed the foundational concepts that they wanted students to become capable of understanding and applying in order to enhance the subsequent learning of other genetic content (se Diagram 3.2). The mapping of the curricular flow also served as a platform whereby the participating teachers could discuss the dificulties students face in learning genetics. The team eventualy decided to focus on developing students’ capability to understand and use the general concepts in gene expresion (including transcription and translation, which are newly introduced into the          64 prescribed curriculum). They felt that such a capability was important, in view of how fundamental the proceses of transcription and translation were to understanding the rest of the genetic topics, such as heredity and expresion of traits.       Diagram 3.2: The enacted approach to help teachers determine the object of student learning.             65 Meting 6: Confirmation of object of learning, determination of curicular flow (16 February 2009) The determination of curricular flow extended to this meting, whereby teachers revisited the map constructed in the previous meting and finalized the order of the genetic topics (se Diagram 3.3). This step was deemed necesary as the order of the topics difered from what was done previously, and difered from the original scheme of work that was to be followed for that academic year.  It also difered from the typical flow in prescribed curricular materials.   The object of student learning was also confirmed. Towards the end of this meting, teachers were given a handout (Appendix C) highlighting students’ understandings of genetics as revealed through research literature (e.g., Alchin, 2000; Lewis et al., 2000a, b, c; Lewis & Katmann, 2004; Lewis & Wood-Robinson, 2000; Marbach-Ad, 2001, Nelkin & Lindee, 2004; Saka et al., 2006; Tsui & Treagust, 2004; Venvile et al., 2005; Venvile & Treagust, 1998, Wood, 1993). Samples of pre-leson tests questions to uncover students’ understanding of genetics, as drawn from research literature (Duncan & Reiser, 2007; Lewis & Wood-Robinson, 2000; Marbach-Ad & Stavy, 2000; Venvile & Treagust, 1998), were also included in the handout.             66            67 Meting 7: Crafting of student pre-leson test (2 March 2009) The crafting of student pre-leson test drew from a sample pre-test (used for a pilot study by the researcher) given to the teachers, as wel as the handout given to the teachers in the previous meting. The questions used in the pilot study also drew from research literature (Duncan & Reiser, 2007; Lewis & Katmann, 2004; Lewis & Wood-Robinson, 2000; Marbach-Ad, 2001; Lewis et. al, 2000a, b; Martins & Ogborn, 1997; Nelkin & Lindee, 2004; Saka et al., 2006; Tsui & Treagust, 2004; Venvile & Treagust, 1998; Venvile et al., 2005; Wood, 1993). The team picked out the questions that they wanted to include in their pre-leson test. In this meting, Amy, Pam and Chris chose the clases that they wanted to implement the research lesons. The teachers decided to work with the higher ability girls in the school, expresing their greater confidence of enacting new ways of teaching in these clases. The participating teachers also expresed that, in view of their workload, the researcher should carry out the analysis of the pre-leson test. The 30-minute pre-leson test (Appendix D) was administered during the wek, of which 80 students participated in the test.   Meting 8: Review of pre-leson test (9 March 2009) In this meting, teachers were granted the entire hour to look through students’ scripts and the analysis of students’ pre-test results (n=80) prepared by the researcher. Teachers casualy commented on the findings that struck them, and the conversations extended to their recommendations of how the topic could be taught to addres students’ gaps in understanding. This step was deliberately included to create the space for teachers to draw on empirical data to ascertain the problem and chalenges in teaching genetics, thus encouraging teachers to reflect and establish relationships betwen the data, their prior teaching experiences and their current          68 teaching practices. This step, as similar to the “reconnaisance” phase in action research (Eliott, 1991), also alowed data to be used to justify the existence of the “problem” to be addresed.   At the end of the meting, Amy, Pam and Chris recommended five students from their clases (total of 15) to be interviewed. The number of students to be interviewed was determined by the teachers, on the basis of wanting to maximize the diversity in answers and to minimize the disruptions imposed onto the students. The selection was based on the availability and perceived wilingnes of the students to participate, and also because of the aim to cover a range of answers (in the pre-leson test) that the teachers themselves wanted to further explore. In order to minimize disruptions, the student interviews were conducted during the receses (break) alocated within school hours or imediately after school. The interviews were used for clarification or elaboration of answers writen in the pre-leson test, and students were further probed for their understanding of the structural and functional aspects of genes (including the proceses of transcription and translation), and the relationships betwen them. The researcher conducted most of the interviews alone. Kate sat in for the initial few interviews after she expresed interest to observe how the interviews were conducted. Each interview lasted betwen 15-30 minutes.  Meting 9: Planning of research lesons (18 March 2009, March school holidays)  This meting was a two-hour meting held during the term break (one wek) in March. The meting started off with a review of what preceded in the previous metings. Subsequently, theory of variation was reviewed, with atention drawn to the importance of establishing common ground, and the architecture of paterns of variation and invariance to be enacted. In the next part of the meting, the participating teachers read the transcripts of the 15 student          69 interviews conducted. They discussed their insights gained from the transcripts, as wel as the depth and scope of the genetics content that should be covered in relation to these insights. Subsequently, the researcher reiterated the key points that have emerged from the students’ interviews and pre-leson test, and teachers were given a handout summarizing these points (Appendix E).  Drawing from the results of the student pre-lesson tests and interviews, and using theory of variation as a theoretical framework, the team collectively determined the critical aspects of the object of learning. The critical aspects included the structural and the functional aspects of gene. The later can be subdivided, focusing on (1) genes as code for proteins, (2) transcription and translation proces, and (3) the function of proteins in gene expresion. These critical aspects were decided based on (1) the chalenges in teaching genetics emerging from the student data and research literature, (2) their saliency in helping students develop a deeper understanding of genetics, (3) the object of student learning, as wel as (4) from what teachers intended to vary and keep invariant. Thus, this part of the discussion included an amalgamation of drawing from teachers’ prior teaching experiences; supported literature; empirical data; and the application of theory of variation. The determination of critical aspects also took place concurrently with the discussion of theory of variation-framed pedagogical strategies to be employed. In addition, the extensivenes of the genetic topic also resulted in the teachers constantly relating the object of student learning and the critical aspects to other key topics in genetics. As such, opportunities were also given for teachers to explore the part-whole relationships (Marton & Booth, 1997) betwen the chosen object of student learning with the rest of the genetic topics. The discussion that took place in this meting was summarized (by the researcher) into a handout for the teachers (se Diagram 3.4).            70          71 Preparation and implementation of research lesons (23 March – 17 April 2009)  Amy, Pam and Chris proceded to plan their lesons based on the paterns of variation and invariance collectively decided upon, while having the freedom to determine the resources and pedagogical strategies they would employ in order to beter suit their own clases and teaching styles. This practice was observed in other learning studies as wel (Lo et al., 2006; Pang & Marton, 2005). It was decided that the structural aspect of genes should also be emphasized. The diferent levels in which genetic entities can be understood should be systematicaly varied - either moving from a more macro view to sub-molecular view (e.g., from cels to nucleus to chromosomes to DNA to genes and then to nucleotides), or vice versa. The relationships betwen these biophysical entities were also brought to the fore for discernment. Formerly, acording to the teachers, this aspect was quickly brushed over and was a “taken-for-granted” aspect. In view that gaps in understandings emerged through the pre-leson tests, coupled with literature highlighting the dificulties students faced in understanding the relationships betwen the biophysical entities (chromosomes, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and genes) (Duncan & Reiser, 2007; Lewis & Katmann, 2004; Lewis & Wood-Robinson, 2000; Marbach-Ad, 2001; Marbach-Ad & Stavy, 2000; Saka et al., 2006; Venvile et al., 2005), the team decided that the structural aspects warranted more atention.   Subsequently, the patern of variation designed was to vary the genetic code (structural aspect), which may result in changes in the mRNA formed during transcription, followed by changes in the protein formed in the translation proces, which may subsequently alter the cascade of reactions that the protein trigger. Thus, the reactions might result in changes in characteristics. This sequential variation highlights how the variation of one critical aspect is responsible for the variations observed in the others. It was deemed valuable in helping students          72 focus on the coding regions of hereditary material (as opposed to “junk” DNA), and it also served to link the structural and functional aspects of genes. This relationship was also deemed important by the team, whose aim was to help students develop a deeper understanding of the genetic proceses (functional aspects), which extended beyond the common asociation of genes with traits, hereditary diseases or as hereditary materials that are pased on. These asociations, without a deeper understanding of genetic proceses, were in fact reported to be problematic in literature (Duncan & Reiser, 2007; Lewis & Katmann, 2004; Lewis & Wood-Robinson, 2000; Marbach-Ad, 2001; Tsui & Treagust, 2004; Venvile & Treagust, 1998; Venvile et al., 2005). These asociations may hinder students from having an enriched understanding of genes as productive sequences of instruction that would, through the proces of transcription and translation, produce a protein that might result in changes in the expresion of traits. Thus, the plan was to introduce mutation as a way to enhance students’ learning of transcription and translation. The new arrangement might also help students beter understand the concept of aleles and the concept of diploidy (Alchin, 2000), which were concepts to be covered in another chapter in the prescribed textbook - “Heredity”.   What is also noteworthy is that the patern of variation and invariance employed actualy alowed the proces of mutation, which was supposed to be covered in another key topic in genetics (Heredity), to nicely fit into this part of the leson unit. In addition, teachers were also considering varying the types of mutations to further help students to discern the critical aspects and to establish the relationships betwen the structural and functional aspects of genes – using diferent types of mutations such as those caused by nucleotide substitution, nucleotide deletion, nucleotide addition, and chromosomal mutation. In doing so, students’ learning of the proceses of transcription and translation may be enhanced.          73 Within the span of four weks, the research lesons were implemented. Chris took three lesons to complete the leson unit planned, while Amy took two lesons, and Pam took three. (Details of the research lesons are provided in the subsequent chapter – Section 4.2.2, 4.3.2 & 4.4.2.) The team observed one another’s clases and provided fedback during the post-leson conferences to improve the design of the genetics unit. Initialy, the plan was to provide imediate fedback after the research lesons were taught, but this proved a chalenge due to the constraints of time-tabling (teachers’ teaching schedule) as wel as the teachers’ commitments after school. Thus, the wekly-alocated metings were used as post-conference sesions to evaluate the lesons. It was also arranged such that Chris, who was deemed as the more experienced teacher in the team, implemented the research lesons a wek earlier than Pam and Amy. In this way, the two teachers could potentialy benefit from both the observation and evaluation of Chris’ clases.  Meting 10, 11, 12, 13: Post-leson conferences (30 March, 6, 13 and 20 April 2009)  The post-leson conferences served as a space carved out for teachers to evaluate the lesons based on the paterns of variation and invariance collectively determined. In addition, good teaching practices were also highlighted during the discussions. Within the sesion, teachers teaching the research lesons were also given opportunities to explain their pedagogical choices and to highlight the chalenges faced. The rest of the team suggested improvements and collectively explored options as to how the teacher could proced. For every leson, one collaborating teacher was appointed as the “principal observer” who would act as the key person helping to facilitate the post-leson conference.            74 The opportunities to observe one another’s clases were deemed by the teachers themselves as being “novel”. It was not common practice for younger teachers to observe the clases of the more experienced teachers. What is equaly noteworthy was that the nature of the observation was also diferent. Firstly, clasroom observations in Singapore are often laden with the notion of asesments (as was also mentioned by the teachers). Teachers are observed and asesed, and a grade is eventualy asigned for the teachers’ overal performance for the year. In this study, observations were made with the intention of improving clasroom practices rather than asesing teachers. Secondly, the observations and evaluation in this study difered from others since theory of variation was used to relate the intended, enacted and lived object of learning, and atention was also paid to the establishment of common ground and the architecture of paterns of variation and invariance enacted.    As a researcher-facilitator, my role in this part of the learning study ranged from pointing out areas that needed clarification, highlighting good pedagogical practices, to the provision of suggestions. In addition, I served as a resource person who would demonstrate how the theory could be enacted in the clasroom context. I also pointed out other examples of variation that the teachers have used in their clases that were not collectively planned. In order to provide support for the teachers’ pedagogical strategies, research literature was also provided to ilustrate the similarities betwen their practices and those reported in research studies. Because the use of a theory to guide the evaluation of the lesons was deemed a new way to conduct evaluation of lesons, through the use of Chris’ lesons, how the theory could be used to determine the impact of his pedagogy on students’ learning was also ilustrated by the researcher. The teachers were also given handouts noting the key points of the discussions (Appendix F).          75  Administration of student post-leson tests and interviews, Meting 13: Review of post-lesson test and interview results (20 April 2009)  Subsequent to the research lesons taught, student post-leson test was administered (n=80). Semi-structured student interviews, each lasting betwen 15-30 min., were also conducted by the researcher to determine the impact of the clasroom interventions on students’ understanding of genetics. The post-leson test had identical questions to the pre-leson test, with the inclusion of an additional question that probed for students’ understanding of the relationship betwen the structural and functional aspects of genes (Appendix G). The same students were interviewed. The interviews aimed for clarification and elaboration of students’ post-leson test answers. Students were also asked to share about the parts of the lesons that encouraged and enriched their learning. The researcher analyzed the post-leson test and transcribed the interviews.   Comparisons of the pre- and post-leson tests and student interviews enabled the team to determine possible shifts in students’ conceptions of genes and the genetic proceses; to determine the extent of mastery of the object of student learning; and to establish the relationships betwen the enacted and lived object of learning. The data was also drawn upon to support the discussions that took place in the post-leson conferences. For example, during the third post-leson conference, the researcher drew on the data to exemplify how the enacted and lived object of learning could be examined in Chris’s clas. In addition, during the last post-leson conference (Meting 13), teachers were granted opportunities to review the analysis of the post-leson tests and the student interview transcripts. Teachers were also granted time in the meting to reflect on their own practices, and to document what they would deem as good practices in helping students master the object of learning. A handout (Appendix H) that          76 teachers could fil in was given to aid and stimulate the reflective proces. The design of this part of the learning study thus alowed utilization of empirical data as a basis for teacher reflection. In view of how teachers’ experiences of profesional learning are closely tied to students’ learning experiences (Fullan, 2003), uncovering the impact of the research lesons on students’ learning was deemed as important.  Meting 14: Reflection and documentation of good practices (27 April 2009)  Teachers were given opportunities in this meting to reflect on and to share the practices they deemed efective in aiding students’ development of the capability to understand and use the concepts in gene expresion. Some of the key points raised were the (1) establishment of common ground, (2) the paterns of variation and invariance employed (“intentional” and “unintentional”) and their efectivenes, as wel as (3) the larger picture of the efectivenes of the implementation of the new curricular flow and the inclusion of mutation. Building on the articulated good practices, the researcher explicitly related what teachers deemed efective to the student data collected, as part of the “research aspect” of the learning study that alowed teachers to inquire into their own practices. However, due to the constraints of time, the team only managed to relate students’ enriched understandings to the enacted object of learning. There was insufficient time to deliberate in great detail as to why some of the students did not adequately demonstrate the mastery of the object of learning.   What is noteworthy is that although wekly journal writing was not implemented in the current study, this space of discussion and sharing provided an avenue for reflection. It provided a space for the teachers to converse with themselves, thus becoming a powerful means for               77 (re-)exploring beliefs, atitudes and perceptions of events experienced (Pedreti, 1996; Richert, 1992).  Meting 15: Reflection on teachers’ own experiences in participating in the learning study, evaluation of the learning study (4 May 2009) In this meting, teachers were granted opportunities to reflect on their own experiences in participating in the learning study. The reflection served to directly probe for how the teachers experienced their own learning as a form of profesional development, and how their pedagogies were afected. A handout (Appendix I) was distributed to facilitate the reflective proces. The researcher went through each aspect mentioned on the handout, while granting teachers time to write down short notes of their thoughts and experiences. The reflection was separated into sections acording to the diferent aspects and steps in the learning study, such as the determination of object of learning and curricular flow; focus on students’ conceptions and learning, reflective proces; collaboration; employment of a theoretical framework; as wel as inquiring into own practices through research in the clasroom. Notes describing what transpired for each step were provided and served to stimulate recal. In addition, questions were provided on the handout to guide teachers’ reflections. The entire reflection was completed within the one-hour meting.   Final sets of interviews conducted (5-26 May 2009)  Two sets of teacher interviews were conducted prior to the conclusion of the learning study, with each interview lasting approximately 45 to 75 minutes. Apart from Chris who requested to have the first of the two semi-structured interviews conducted imediately after he finished the research lesons, Amy, Pam and Kate had both interviews conducted betwen the          78 last meting of the learning study and the last day of the semester. Within this period, the teachers were also busy with the student mid-year examinations, thus the interviews were conducted whenever the teachers could aford the time to met. The teachers were given a list of questions that may be discussed in the interviews beforehand. This was done to give teachers more time to think about the questions.   During the interviews, teachers were asked to comment about their experiences in the learning study. Drawing from their responses writen in the overal reflection (Meting 15), teachers were also asked to clarify or to elaborate on various points. Similarly, the third set of interviews was used to clarify some of the teachers’ comments made during the second set of interviews. In addition, teachers were asked to share if any of their views about teaching and learning would have changed after participation in the learning study. To aid this, teachers were also asked to comment on any changes they would like to make in their responses to the Genetics Questionnaire. Towards the end of the last set of interviews, teachers were also asked to comment about the organization of the learning study, with the aim to uncover the aspects that might have encouraged or hindered their learning. The interviews thus provided a platform for the participating teachers to further reflect on their learning experiences in participating in the learning study. Some of the interview questions crafted also mirrored the ones asked in the first interview, while others drew from research literature (e.g., Arbaugh, 2003). The interview transcripts were given back to the interviewes.  Reporting of the learning study implemented (28 May 2009, 3 June 2010)  The researcher presented the preliminary analysis of the learning study to the school leaders as a way to share and diseminate the findings. In addition, the researcher also presented          79 the preliminary results at a conference held in Singapore on 3 June 2009. Teachers participating in the study were invited to co-present the findings with the researcher. However, due to the other commitments that participating teachers had, they were not able to atend the conference. Nonetheles, within the PDG program that the school runs, the participating teachers wil have opportunities in the future to share their findings.   3.4 Data sources Data were collected from a variety of sources to ensure a rich data set. Data sources included questionnaire (Genetics Questionnaire), teacher reflections (conducted during the last meting), and interview transcripts (3 sets of interviews). Data were also collected in the form of audio-video recordings of al metings as wel as the research lesons. Meting (including post-leson conferences) notes, documents and handouts prepared by the researcher recorded the schedule and logistics of the study, and served as a record for what were anticipated as wel as what actualy transpired during the metings. The researcher’s writen field notes and journal entries recorded a variety of information about “self” and “method” (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). That is, they provided information about perceptions of what was happening in terms of the researcher’s own insights, values and interests. They also acted like a “methodological log” that reflected the methodological decisions and rationales that were deliberated upon when implementing the learning study. The range of data sources presented here, coupled with student data collected in the form of pre- and post-leson tests and interviews, were helpful for stimulating recal and analysis of the overal proces. Concurrently, they served triangulation purposes in order to ensure trustworthines (Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Mathison, 1988; Maxwel, 1996). The range of data sources was also particularly useful in shedding light on the preliminary ongoing analysis that took place during the implementation of the learning study.          80 Enriching the context in which the participants described their own experiences, these multiple sources of data were constantly referred to, and read alongside the interview transcripts and overal reflection. As such, the dificulties in integrating data of diferent forms could be addresed, through the taking of a holistic approach, that is, the consideration of data in relation to one another (Dal’Alba, 1994).  3.4.1 The use of interviews – drawing from a phenomenographic perspective In view that interview data formed a large part of the data collected in this study, it is worthwhile to further discuss the use of interviews in this research study. A review of literature indicates that interviews constitute a common method of data collection in phenomenographic studies that seked to explore teachers’ understandings and experiences of teaching and/or (student) learning. Examples of such studies involve teachers from diferent grade levels and institutions - university academics (e.g., Åkerlind, 2004, 2008; Booth & Anderberg, 2005; Martin & Lueckenhausen, 2005; Prosser et al., 1994; Trigwel, Prosser & Taylor, 1994); secondary or high school teachers (e.g., Boulton-Lewis et al., 2001; Cope & Ward, 2002; Govender & Grayson, 2008; Kobala, Glynn, Upson & Coleman, 2005; Pang, 2006; Rogers, Abel, Lannin, Wang, Musikul, Barker & Dingman, 2007); and trainee or prospective teachers (e.g., Kobala et al., 2000; Govender & Grayson, 2008; Wood, 2000). In these studies, teachers’ experiences (conceptions) of teaching and/or learning were uncovered, both as more general aspects of teaching and learning (e.g., Boulton-Lewis et al., 2001; Martin & Lueckenhausen, 2005; Van Eekelen et al., 2005; Wood, 2000) as wel as those situated within specific content domains (e.g., Cope & Ward, 2002 (learning technology); Govender & Grayson, 2008 (programing); Kobala et al., 2000, 2005 (chemistry); Pang, 2006 (economics); Prosser et al., 1994 (science); Trigwel et al., 1994 (science)). These studies lend support for the use of          81 interviews in this research study to uncover teachers’ conceptions of teaching biology, as wel as their experiences participating in the learning study. Interviews were likewise employed in learning studies (e.g., Pang, 2006).   Variation in how interviews were conducted (for example, length of time taken; extensivenes of dialogue; and what constituted the research data) is observed. Despite the diferences, the employment of phenomenographic perspectives results in the “explorative character” (p. 169) being an interview’s most central characteristic (Svensson, 1997). Hence, interviews were usualy semi-structured and open-ended, which was also the case in this research study. This alowed the interviewes to respond to aspects of the questions that appeared most relevant to them, and to reveal the diferent ways of experiencing the phenomenon within that context (Åkerlind, 2002, 2004, 2005; Boulton-Lewis et al., 2001; Bowden, 1994a; Dal’Alba, 1994; Kobala et al., 2005; Marton, 1986, 1988; Rogers et al., 2007; Wood, 2000). As Marton (1986) clearly describes: … interviewing has been the primary method of phenomenographic data collection. What questions are asked and how we ask questions, of course, are highly important aspects of the method… we used questions that are as open-ended as possible in order to let the subjects choose an important source of data because they reveal an aspect of the individual’s relevance structure. Furthermore, though we have a set of questions at the start of the interview, diferent interviews may follow somewhat diferent courses. (p. 84)   In the same vein, the interview approach adopted in this research study was also similar to what Booth (1997) would advocate – interviews that are “deep and open”.  “Dep” meaning that particular lines of discussion are followed until they are exhausted and the two parties have come to a state of mutual understanding. And “open” to mean that although a structure might be          82 planned in advance, the interviewer is prepared to follow unexpected lines of reasoning that can lead to fruitful new reflections.   It is also noteworthy that colloquial Singaporean English was also occasionaly used by the interviewer and interviewes, in order to further facilitate the “dialogue” that transpired. This alowed the interviewe’s acount of his/her experiences to be described in a way that he/she was most comfortable with. Similarly, in Pang and Marton’s (2005) study, the teachers were told to use whatever language they liked, including slang, spoken Cantonese or even pictures, to answer the questions in the interviews. The use of colloquial Singaporean English in the current study also alowed for meanings to be shared quickly, thus enabling the interviewer to listen and to look from the point of view of the participants with greater ease (Dal’Alba, 1994). Dal’Alba (1994) deemed the adoption of such an “experiential perspective” as pertinent, in light that the descriptions from phenomenographic research focuses on the relations betwen the experienced and the experiencer (the relational nature of phenomenography) (Marton, 1986; Marton & Booth, 1997), and how researchers sek to describe the interviewe’s views. What is also advocated here is for researchers to listen carefully to their participants, as was practiced in this learning study. Thus during the course of the interviews, participants were alowed to expres their views as fully as they wanted before another question was asked.   In this research study, each set of interviews was guided by a list of key questions to be used. Questions framed to pursue certain lines of inquiry raised by the interviewes were used, only if they added clarity or enriched the original key questions planned. Key words that emerged in the proces of the interviews were also jotted. Rather than paraphrasing the utterances of the interviewes, which might result in premature interpretations of the          83 participant’s comments, the words of the interviewes themselves were used to frame subsequent questions asked. These practices were implemented as a response to the caution and suggestions made by several researchers - as steps taken to collect unbiased data. For example, Francis (1993) raised concern about the use of leading prompts that might lead to “self-fulfiling prophecies” through the mechanism of behavior confirmation. Similarly, Bowden (1994b) expresed concern that the more extensive dialogue engaged by some phenomenographers may go beyond what the interviewes had introduced in the conversation. Mindful of this, Bowden (1994a) used a limited set of planned questions, and al other questions were focused solely on encouraging the interviewes to explain their ideas as fully as possible – as was practiced in this current study. Similarly, Cope  (2002a, b) advocated the interviewer to construct follow-up questions in terms of a “structure of awarenes” (focusing on the theme, thematic field and margin) rather than on the interviewer’s own prior knowledge of the phenomenon of interest.   Prior to concluding this section, the use of interviews to provide teachers with a platform for reflection (Altrichter et al., 1993; Eliott, 1991; Johansson et al., 1985; Marton, 1986) is worthy of discussion. Such a practice may be sen as an addres to Säljö’s (1997) concern about the “mutual constitution of human experience and discursive practices” (p. 188). That is, the participant’s acounting mutualy constitutes the experiences described. The position taken in this study is in agreement with Säljö - that there may be many ways in which acounting practices can be used to describe human experience, and that the acounting itself may mutualy constitute the experience. Nonetheles, this is not sen as an “atack” on phenomenography, nor does it contradict the intentions of this study. On the contrary, with the aim that teachers’ desire to be profesionaly developed may be deepened, such a mutual constitution is in fact “welcomed” in this research study. The teachers’ description of their experiences, as part of          84 their discursive practices, may encourage them to develop an awarenes of their own learning. Consequently, this may propel them towards a disposition of wanting to be further developed profesionaly, while simultaneously resulting in a constitution of the very experience described. Such a perspective draws support from Chiu’s (2005) study, whereby the participating teacher developed a stronger desire to learn after participation in the learning study.   3.5 Data analysis In this section, the analyses of the participating teachers’ experiences and the impact of the research lesons on student learning are described in detail.  3.5.1 Analysis of participating teachers’ experiences The analytical proces was framed by largely employing a phenomenographic approach (Marton, 1988, 1994; Marton & Booth, 1997). In this study, teacher interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The transcription proces has in fact alowed a phenomenographic analysis to proced, alowing for “a sense of the meaning of the text as a whole” to emerge, and that “this circling of part to whole and back again results in progresive understanding” (Rennie, 2000, p. 484). During the initial analyses, the conversations were listened to several times by playing the recording in order to include anything that would afect the interpretation of meanings. Ashworth and Lucas (2000) supported such a practice.  The careful reading of the teacher interview transcripts and overal reflective entries marked another step in the data analysis. This part of the analysis involved a selection procedure based on criteria of relevance (Marton, 1988, 1994a). Uterances found to be of interest were selected and marked, with the interpretation of the utterance (in general) made in relation to the          85 context from which the utterance was taken. The interpretations were also guided by and triangulated with other date sources.  Having an initial idea of the possible ways in which the individual teachers experienced various aspects of the learning study, each of the individual teacher’s experiences was described. This step of the analysis provided an opportunity to persist a focus on the individuals’ experience and utterances. Terms or aspects that the participants frequently used or paid atention to were also noted. The particularities and coherence of each individual’s experiences were thus established. This step supported the view that in describing how a phenomenon or aspect of the world appears to an individual, it is pertinent for the phenomenographer to adopt the individual’s perspective; to describe the phenomenon from the point of view of that individual (Dal’Alba, 1994).   The practice here could also be sen as an addres to Säljö’s (1997) concern - that the utterances of people are transformed into categories of description that may not mean in that context in the same way as they do in their original communicative seting. That is, interviewes’ statements are read uncriticaly as indicators of ways of experiencing, and alternative interpretations of the functional mechanisms of why people talk the way they do are rarely considered. Along a similar vein, Clarke (2002) likewise draws atention to the individual participant by aserting that individuals participate in social practice as a member of a social group, and this membership is a mater of interpretive afiliation by the participating individual. While it is not the intent of the discussion here to discuss in detail the chalenge of Säljö’s – on the truth claims made in phenomenography that diferent ways of experiencing can be adequately acounted for and described, whereby conceptions of truth are imposed such that          86 “method risks becoming ontology” (Säljö , 1997, p. 188), the cautionary tale serves as a salient reminder. For instance, in appreciating that this current research is vulnerable to the criticism that it privileges the participants’ description of their experiences, and in heeding Säljö’s cal to draw greater atention to the “complex of motives, skils and preferences that occasion people to talk the way they do” (p. 188), rather than to take them uncritically as people’s experiences. This may be acomplished through a meticulous and careful reading of the individual participant’s utterances when the participants’ individual experiences were described, and their utterances could be interpreted in a context that might have shaped their comments. Similarly, such a step may also aid to elucidate the meanings that the individual participants atribute to their own teaching practices (Clarke, 2002) and experiences.  The focus on individual participant’s experiences was also an atempt made to increase the degree of acuracy of the interpretation of the utterances of the participants, so that the “pooling” of meanings (Marton, 1988, 1994) that took place subsequent to this step would ensure that statements grouped together actualy embed within them similar meanings. This next step of the analysis acted as a way of looking for paterns through the identification of similarities within and betwen transcripts. At this point, the atention was shifted from the individual subjects to the meanings embedded in the quotes. The interpretation was thus an iterative proces that goes back and forth betwen the context of the interviews as wel as the context of the “pool of meanings”. Because the individual experiences of the participants were described and studied carefully, this iterative proces of reading within and betwen transcripts, of shifting betwen individuals to the collective, took place with greater ease.            87 A step-by-step diferentiation was then made within the “pool of meanings” (Marton, 1988, 1994). That is, the utterances were brought together into groups on the basis of similarity and the groups were delimited in terms of diferences – thus forming categories defined in terms of core meanings of the groups of quotes. At this point, employing theory of variation was particularly useful. Firstly, an appreciation of learning as the ability to experience various aspects of teachers’ profesional lives in more advanced or diferent ways helped to frame the type of learning experiences looked for. Secondly, learning could be appreciated in terms of teachers’ discernment of diferent critical aspects that were focaly and simultaneously present in their awarenes. The themes constructed (typicaly known as categories of description in phenomenographic studies) were tested for their acuracy in interpretation against the interview transcripts and reflective entries, and against the other sources of data. They were then adjusted, retested and adjusted again, with “a decreasing rate of change and eventualy the whole system of meaning is stabilized” (Marton, 1986, p. 42). In addition, the descriptions of the individual participants’ experiences were also further refined even as the reiterative proces added clarity to both the individual’s as wel as the collective’s experiences. The themes, as ilustrated, were thus not made up in advance (Marton, 1988). What is also noteworthy was that this reiterative proces of focusing on the experiences of individual participants and that of the collective’s alowed for “outliers” to be eliminated, thus constituting a way to establish credibility (Lincoln & Guba, 1985).   3.5.1.1 Variation in the analytical proces  Within phenomenographic studies, variation in the analytical proces was observed and highlighted (Åkerlind, 2002, 2005; Bowden & Walsh, 1994). Åkerlind (2002, 2005) has noted diferences in terms of the amount of each transcript considered. While smaler quotes or          88 excerpts were considered in this current study - similar to that of Marton’s (1986, 1988), others have had whole transcripts considered instead (e.g., Bowden, 1994b; Bowden, Dal’Alba, Laurilard, Martin, Marton, Masters, Ramsden, Stephanou & Walsh, 1992; Prosser, 1994). The later practice was deemed as a way to addres the concern of “de-contextualization” of the quotes, which may reduce appropriate consideration of the context within which the selected quotes were made (Bowden, 1994b). In this research study, in addresing a similar concern, individual participants’ experiences were described. In addition, the context was carefully studied by reading the utterances alongside other data sources.  Some researchers start the analysis using preliminary sample transcripts before bringing in the full set of transcripts (Prosser, 1994; Prosser et al., 1994; Trigwel et al., 1994). Similarly, Rogers et al. (2007) used an inductive approach (Paton, 2002) to code a subset of the data into thematic clusters or categories, and subsequently used a qualitative analysis software to code the remaining data into the list of categories. This alowed them to develop a frequency chart that included the number of comments by interviewes for each coding category. In my study, neither practices were carried out when analyzing the participating teachers’ experiences, due to the smal sample size (four teachers).   It is noteworthy to mention that despite the variation in methods present within phenomenographic studies, crucial commonalities in practice were also observed (Åkerlind, 2002, 2005). These include the eforts to maintain a high degree of opennes when reading through the transcripts (in order to derive possible meanings), and the opennes to new interpretations. In addition, the whole proces is iterative and comparative, with the search for          89 key qualitative similarities within, and diferences betwen, the categories as a primary feature of the constitution of categories of description (or themes in this current study).     3.5.2 Analysis of student learning  Students’ pre- and post-leson tests were analyzed employing phenomenographic perspectives as wel. Initialy, varied conceptions for each question were scored whenever that particular conception was present in the students’ response. Subsequently, using the phenomenographic analysis described in the previous subsection (Section 3.5.1), students’ understandings of the conception of genes, pointing to how they experienced and approached the topic of genetics, were captured in terms of categories. Because it was the agenda of the teachers to help students gain an understanding of genetics that is consistent with canonical science, these categories were ordered in a hierarchical way. Learning could thus be appreciated as the shift of conceptions from a lower-ordered category to a higher one (Johansson et al., 1985; Marton, 1986). Hence, unlike that of capturing the diferent ways teachers experienced learning within the learning study, the ordering of the categories was deemed relevant and useful within this context. Students were scored for the most advanced conception that they demonstrated throughout the transcript. The student interviews conducted subsequent to the analysis of students’ test were used to further test the stability of the categories constructed. In view that student interviews also served as an extension of the pre- and post-leson tests administered, other insights that emerged from the student interviews were directly jotted down.  The results of the student pre- and post-leson tests and interviews were not reported in detail because this thesis focused primarily on teachers’ experiences.            90 3.6 Situating myself in the study The notion of insider-outsider in research has commanded much atention, especialy in view of how “outsiders” can potentialy influence “insiders” (Coghlan & Shani, 2005; Greenwood & Levin, 1998; Pedreti, 1996). Thus borrowing the notion of insider-outsider, I have situated myself within this research study, looking not only at the kinds of “outsider” knowledge I bring into the learning study as a potential resource for the participants (Greenwood & Levin, 1998; Pang, 2006), but also the kinds of “insider” knowledge that I posses that might aid in my role as a researcher-facilitator in the study. The articulation of my own experiences, interests, agendas and biases in this section draws its support from the notion of “cultural authorship” (Clarke, 2002; Clarke & Suri, 2003). The authors’ mention of research studies inevitably reflecting the curricular interests and priorities, as wel as the cultural values of the authoring culture, thus underscores the need to make them known.   3.6.1 My experience with the genetics curiculum Being a former teacher teaching Grade 7-10 biology in Singapore, and having to determine the curricular flow of biology topics to be taught in my former school, the chalenges teachers face in teaching genetics were not foreign to me. Coupled with my involvement with the Ministry of Education in Singapore to review the curricular materials for the newly implemented biology syllabus, I have had the opportunity to encounter the new genetics curriculum and to se the potential gaps in the curriculum. I could also anticipate the frustrations teachers might face - as a result of the newnes and ambiguity (in terms of its depth and scope) within the new biology curriculum. These experiences have enabled me to empathize with the Grade 10 biology teachers participating in my study, shaping my “insider” knowledge.            91 My personal experiences as a student learning genetics have also led me to believe that genetics is a dificult topic to learn. The gaps in students’ understandings of genetics and chalenges teaching it, as highlighted in research literature, have often resonated with my own learning as a student. This encouraged me to find new approaches that might help aleviate, if not overcome, these chalenges.  3.6.2 The sense of profesional isolation  Being part of a commite that was in charge of profesional development of the teaching staf in my former school, Shulman’s (1986) underscore for teachers to gain competency in pedagogy, content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge resonated wel with my personal orientation towards teacher profesional development. Such an orientation was shaped by my personal observation and experience of teaching as an isolating activity – as is a concern that was commonly raised by researchers (Ahlstrand, 1994; Hargreaves, 1992; Lieberman & Miler, 1990). That, indeed, while the isolation does offer many teachers some degree of valued privacy and protection from outside interference, it has also shut out possible sources of support, praise, and collegial fedback on their competence, value and worth (Hargreaves, 1992).   My concern deepened with the chalenges faced to help teachers in my former school to gain competency in their teaching, and develop profesionaly in their specific areas of expertise. For one, there sems to be very litle in-service courses available that would specificaly addres problematic areas within a specific discipline. In addition, I often felt the “inacesibility” of research works, resonating with how Pedreti and Hodson (1995) described curriculum theory and educational research as not being sen by clasroom teachers to provide          92 any insights into the design and implementation of students’ learning experiences. That consequently, teachers’ own personal experiences of the clasroom are often used as the basis for curriculum decision instead. In other words, while I knew that there were research studies that wil benefit teachers, I often felt that teachers were living “profesionaly orphaned lives” (Rosenholz, 1989). In part, I atributed this to the research articles being unavailable in the schools, and also to the style of writing and jargons used that made it hard for teachers to understand. Coupled with teachers’ already heavy workload (further discussed in Section 3.6.3), I was not surprised by the teachers’ reluctance to spend time reading research journals.  It is largely due to these experiences that I was particularly drawn to the potential of the learning study to bridge theory and practice (Pang, 2006); and to enhance teachers’ teaching of specific curricular content. My understanding of learning study, personal experiences encountering it during my course of study in graduate school, and opportunity to conduct a pilot study based on the learning study approach (during my pursuit of a Doctoral degree in Education) have alowed me to contribute this piece of “outsider” knowledge to my research study.   3.6.3 Glimpses of the school culture Being a facilitator on the “inside”, I am aware of the chalenges around profesional development, such as the constraints of time; heavy workload; presures of completing the curriculum; and presures of the examinations. Rather than seing these as hindrances to profesional development approaches, they motivated me to consider and design approaches that would alow teachers to work within the realities of teachers’ constraints, while concurrently supporting their “moral purposes” (Fullan, 2003) of helping students perform in the national          93 examinations. My “insider” knowledge has also alowed me to understand and empathize with teachers’ frequent employment of teacher-centered pedagogy, despite their desires to use more student-centered ones. This disparity has also shed light on the inadequacies of current profesional development opportunities to help teachers execute more student-centered styles of teaching within the constraints of a Singaporean clasroom – the later being desired by the teachers themselves.   Pointing to a deeper cal - that if efective actions spring from efective ways of seing (Marton & Booth, 1997), then teachers’ perceptions and beliefs about what constitutes good biology teaching and learning cannot be ignored. Rather, conditions that would encourage shifts in their beliefs and practices may be necesitated. Constituting my “outsider” knowledge is my conviction of the idea of “backing into change” – that because most people do not discover new understandings until they have delved into the isue, changes in behavior precedes, rather than follows, changes in beliefs (Fullan, 2001; Werner, 2002). Clarke and Hollingsworth (2002) similarly asert that changes in teachers’ beliefs and atitudes could be driven by new practices of clasroom teaching. Their model of teacher profesional growth extends to include a variety of possible “change sequences” and multiple teacher “growth networks”, thus pointing to the complexity and interconnectednes betwen (1) teacher knowledge, beliefs and atitudes; (2) profesional experimentation; (3) salient outcomes (including but not limited to student learning outcomes); and (4) external sources of information or stimulus. These research studies have helped shape my beliefs - that participation in the learning study may create experiences that provide the ground for teachers to rethink their own beliefs and practices, and consequently, to influence their teaching practices.           94 3.6.4 A call to “travel”  I have also situated myself in this research study by borrowing from the critiques of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology. Knies’ (2006) description of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology foregrounds his appeal for one to “travel”; and the concept of nation – the home of specific mythical powers, gods, demons, and traditions, wherein they need not acount for themselves, and are acepted without judgment, and are ultimately beyond question. Acording to Knies, Edmund Husserl aserts that real philosophy cannot emerge except via an encounter with the “facticity of foreign nations”, which can motivate an insight into the contingent and arbitrary nature of one’s own national mythos. Such an encounter can be described as a “discipline of travel”. What is esential to the travel is that an encounter with the “facticity of foreign nations” opens an understanding to a visitation, whereby one’s own zone of familiarity stands out in its character of being unthinkingly acepted. Reflecting on these ideas, the question posed is - What could possibly be my “own zone of familiarity that stands out in its character of being unthinkingly acepted”? Layering the notion of “insider” and “outsider” knowledge, what comes to mind were my experiences that have resulted in the way I have perceived profesional development and its asociated chalenges; and perceptions of the potential of learning study as a profesional development approach in Singapore (described in Section 3.6.1, 3.6.2 & 3.6.3).   Knies’ (2006) critique of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology (as was presented in Husserl’s Vienna lecture) was that atitudes were asigned to humanity such that Europe, as a nation, is the spiritual shape governed by the theoretical norm-style (aims at the atainment of universaly valid truth for its own sake), whereas non-Europe is the spiritual shape limited by “mythico-practical orientation” (aims at a systematic knowledge of the world, but takes the world as a domain of unquestionable powers bound up with the fate of humanity, and so seks          95 its knowledge with the aim of helping us order our lives in the happiest way possible). Knies’ contention is that Husserl’s phenomenology may stil have the “ritual enactment of European Man’s self-identification as standard of humanity” (Knies, 2006, p.9). Knies thus supports the movement of post-European Science to render problematic the constituted forms of knowing and cal into question methodological imperatives. In the case of phenomenological inquiry, he urges making the notions of “nation” and “travel” methodological problems.   The problematization of “nation” serves to remind me of my own views and the ways I was conceptualizing teacher profesional development. The questions posed, then, were whether I thought of myself as the one who knew what was best for the teachers in terms of their profesional development; if I have ever thought that they “do not know beter” of what could potentialy benefit their profesional lives; and if I have treated them as “clean slates” that needed to experience the learning study in order to learn, and subsequently to develop a greater desire to be developed profesionaly. Do these, then, constitute my own “European man’s self-identification as standard of humanity”? So fine is the line of desiring teachers to experience learning and profesional development in order to empower them to take more control over their profesional lives, from that of treating them as “not knowing beter”, that I fearfully and cautiously tread as a researcher in every stage of this research project.    Knies’ (2006) asertion to make the notion of “travel” a methodological problem also led me to consider what needs to be “dethroned” - the dethroning of my own perceptions and privileging of certain aspects of the learning study that might enhance teacher learning. It also compels me to position myself to recognize the interdependency betwen the forms of knowledge that my participants and I bring into the research project. That firstly, while my own          96 understandings and experiences as a teacher, profesional development organizer, curriculum writer and a doctoral student in Education alowed me to contribute certain forms of “insider” and “outsider” knowledge, the teachers’ experiences are absolutely necesary for me to gain a deeper understanding of the ways they learn. Secondly, I need to recognize that we al learn diferently (Marton & Booth, 1997). Thirdly, that we al experience lives as teaching profesionals diferently. Thus, I should not be imposing my own learning styles and preferences on the teachers. In addition, teachers’ personal and collective experiences can merge with mine, such that in the midst of a reconstitution of personal knowledge, a collective understanding and knowledge might also emerge. In this way, the notion of “travel” breaks down because there is no knowledge that is more “foreign” or “native” than another’s. Moreover, al participants contribute diferent forms of knowledge (Atweh, Christensen & Dornan, 1998). Hence, the disposition researchers should take entering a learning study is one of opennes and a wilingnes to learn (Bel, 1998). In doing so, through the joint proces of inquiry, outside researchers can become a “participant” in collaboration with the insiders (Greenwood & Levin, 1998).  What was demonstrated in this section is how the conceptualization of the current study was shaped by my prior experiences, even as the dots of my historicity were connected to this study. As an insider-facilitator, with the knowledge of an outsider-researcher, I drew on my experiences as a student and teacher in Singapore, and as a doctoral student, to beter understand the culture, rhythms, and chalenges teachers faced in Singaporean schools. These chalenges not only pertain to teaching biology, but are also related to profesional development approaches as wel. The emerged understandings resulted in a certain degree of the relinquishing of my agendas, extending to the occasional suspension of my own experiences and understandings – as          97 a way to learn to “de-centralize” and “de-throne” my work (Evans, 1996; Pedreti, 1996). The aim was to develop opennes to how the participant should have their needs met and to pay greater atention to what the participants have to say about their own learning. I was also compeled to locate myself in the context of this research study as one who was constantly seking a balance betwen being an “insider” and “outsider”, to a point of even absolving the dichotomy betwen them. In fact, I came to a realization that this “outsider-insider” dichotomy was not always clear. The “insider” knowledge that I drew on has in fact shaped the “outsider knowledge”, and vice versa. In this way, the inside/outside dichotomy semed to be transformed into an “inside/outside dialectic”, whereby the perspectives, knowledge, and experiences would complement and inform the other (Pedreti, 1996, p.312).   3.7 Trustworthines and isues of validity and reliability This section highlights the considerations and steps taken to ensure the trustworthines (Guba, 1981; Lincoln & Guba, 1985) in this research study. Acording to Lincoln and Guba, the basic isue in relation to trustworthines directs one’s atention to how an inquirer can persuade his or her audiences (including self) that the findings of inquiry are (1) worth paying atention to, (2) worth taking acount of; (3) drawing atention to the arguments, criteria invoked and questions asked that would be persuasive.  The authors have refined and proposed criteria of credibility, transferability, dependability and confirmability, which were deemed to be fundamental to the development of standards used to evaluate the quality of qualitative inquiry. Taking the criteria into consideration, various approaches or principles to ensure validity and reliability in this current study - as were conventionaly used in several phenomenographic studies, were also employed. Although there have been debates regarding the appropriatenes of the use of validity and reliability, it is not the aim here to engage in such a debate. Rather, this          98 study supports that (1) notions of reliability and validity (originaly derived from a positivist approach to research) stil warrant atention from qualitative researchers (Åkerlind, 2002, 2005; Guba, 1981); that (2) the approach to ensure reliability and validity in qualitative studies may difer and extend beyond its application in quantitative studies, and is pertinent to ensure rigor in qualitative studies (Golafshani, 2003; Morse, Barret, Mayan, Olson & Spiers, 2002).      3.7.1 Adresing isues of validity Validity is widely regarded as the extent to which a study is sen as investigating what it aimed to investigate, or the degree to which the research findings actualy reflect the phenomenon studied (Åkerlind, 2002, 2005). In other words, to demonstrate validity, one must therefore show that the particular operationalization acomplishes the purpose for which one intended to use it (Palys, 2003). The justification of validity lies in a full and open acount of: (1) a study’s method (Section 3.3) and results (Chapter 4) (Cope, 2002a); (2) acknowledgement of the researcher’s background, revealing also the agendas for the research study (Section 3.6); (3) characteristics of the participants (Section 3.3.1) and the context of the study (Section 1.1 & 1.3); (4) steps in the study (Section 3.2.2); steps taken to collect unbiased data and to approach the data analysis with an open mind (Section 3.2.2, 3.4.1 & 3.7); (5) data analysis method with proceses used to control and check interpretations (Section 3.5).  The aspects mentioned above were carefully incorporated into this current study. Such a practice is consistent with those exemplified in previous phenomenographic studies (e.g., Cope, 2002b; Sandberg, 1997; Wood, 2000). By providing these descriptions that make transferability          99 judgment possible on the part of potential appliers, it also ilustrates how seking for “transferability” (a criteria to establish trustworthines (Lincoln & Guba, 1985)) could ensure validity. In addition, the acount of this research study’s methods, acompanied by (1) the citation of large number or portions of interview transcripts that were used to generate the answers to the research question (Section 4.2, 4.3 & 4.4), and (2) the availability of data analysis documents which are on file, also seked to addres the criteria of  “dependability” and “confirmability” (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). In so doing, that an asesment of the quality of the integrated proces of data collection, data analysis and of theory generation, and that an evaluation of how wel the findings are supported by the data could be made.  3.7.2 Adresing isues of reliability   Replicability is a common criterion for measuring the extent to which the research results are reliable (Sandberg, 1997). Reliability can be deemed as reflecting the use of appropriate methodological procedures to ensure consistency and quality in data analysis (Guba, 1981). Marton (1986) commented that to ask whether phenomenographic findings are replicable or not is common amongst phenomenographers. He proceded to highlight two isues related to the cal for replicability: firstly, would other researchers reach the same categories of descriptions as the original researcher? Secondly, whether the other researchers can recognize the conceptions identified by the original researcher through the categories of description. Based on the argument that the original finding of the categories of description is a form of discovery that does not require replicability, Marton proceded to argue that it is reasonable to require replicability for phenomenographic results in the second case but not the first. The categories, on the other hand, must alow for a high degree of interjudge reliability once they are determined.           100 Interjudge reliability, also known as interjudge agreement, intersubjective agreement, or “coder reliability check” (Åkerlind, 2002, 2005), is a form of replicability in the sense that it gives measurement of the extent to which other researchers are able to recognize the conceptions identified by the original researcher - by means of the categories determined (Sandberg, 1997). The reliability of the categories of description could be claimed on the basis of percentage agreement betwen al the researchers’ individual clasification. Säljö (1988) mentioned that in most cases, the interjudge reliability is betwen 80 and 90%, while Johansson et al. (1985) deemed 75 to 100% to be satisfactory. Reliability checks, with varying degrees of methodical elements of interjudge reliability, were employed in several phenomenographic studies (e.g., Boulton-Lewis et al., 2001; Bowden, 1994a; Cope & Ward, 2002; Marton et al., 1993; Prosser et al., 1994; Trigwel et al., 1994), as wel as in learning studies (e.g., Pang & Marton, 2005 – “communicability of categories”).  In view of the nature of this research study, a noteworthy isue that comes to the fore is a chalenge that was posed to individual researchers who are working alone, without the availability of another researcher to check for reliability. If the analysis is to be solely of the post-graduate student, under expert guidance, what is the validity of the individual proces as opposed to the group proces? Does the nature of phenomenographic research preclude les experienced individuals working alone, at least while they are stil learning the techniques? (Walsh, 1994, p. 29)  A review of literature sems to indicate that the above isue has not been commonly addresed in an extensive manner. Despite not having employed interjudge reliability in this study, the isue of validity was addresed by borrowing from Lincoln and Guba’s (1985) concept of trustworthines. The authors supported the use of peer debriefing as a technique useful in establishing credibility – as a way of exposing oneself and to explore aspects of the inquiry that          101 might otherwise remain implicit within the researcher’s mind. Members in my research commite played the role similar to that of a “peer debriefer”, although Lincoln and Guba cautioned that the debriefer should not be someone in an authority to the researcher. Their reservations stem from the power-relationships that might be present, which were addresed in this study. My research commite, comprising of another three profesors in the Education faculty, played the salient roles of keeping me “honest”; playing “devil’s advocate” and creating a space where “biases are probed, meanings explored, the basis of interpretations clarified” without me having to fel that my insights were not what they should be (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 308-309). They also did not influence me to a greater extent than should be the case. In a way, my interaction with the commite also mirrored the principles drawn from interjudge reliability. Firstly, it shares the same principles as that of Åkerlind’s (2002, 2005) “dialogic reliability check”, which supports the use of group discussion amongst researchers (Bowden, 1994a). Secondly, similar to Bowden’s suggestion (1994a), in an appreciation that I can be blinkered by my own ways of seing, the space created betwen my commite and I alowed for me to be primarily responsible for the analysis and to explain the reasons for the categorization and description if necesary, while my commite members could test and probe. In the same vein, Corbin and Strauss (1990), in support of working with other researchers in the grounded theory approach, support that “an important part of research is testing concepts and their relationships with colleagues… Opening up one’s analysis to the scrutiny of others helps guard against bias. Discussion with other researchers [with my commite, in this case] often leads to new insights and increased theoretical sensitivity” (p. 11).              102 3.7.3 Bracketing – addresing isues of validity and reliability “Phenomenological epoché” underlies most forms of phenomenology and aims to ensure that the researcher withholds his/her theories and prejudices when interpreting lived experiences (Sandberg, 2005). The point behind epoché is to bracket knowledge that is relevant to the isue at hand; to set aside the researcher’s own asumptions drawn from the researcher’s personal knowledge and belief, as wel as his/her theoretical presuppositions (Ashworth, 1999; Giorgi, 1990). In addition, the development of empathy, which requires a detachment from the researcher’s life world and an opening up to that of the participant, is advocated (Ashworth & Lucas, 2000). It is arguably pertinent in view of how the “correctnes” of conceptions lies not in the conception itself, but in the values and interpretation of the historicaly and socialy located researcher (Webb, 1997).  Because the construction of categories of description depends upon the participant’s very own descriptions of their relevant experiences (Ashworth & Lucas, 2000), bracketing is deemed as important. Sandberg (2005), following the principles stated by Ihde (1977), demonstrated how bracketing was practiced in his investigation into optimizers’ lived experience of engine optimization in the Volvo factory. The steps include: 1. an orientation to how the research object appears throughout the research proces, enabling the researcher to be atentive and open to possible variations and complexities of lived experience. 2. an orientation towards describing what constitutes the experience under investigation, rather than explaining what constitutes the experience. In other words, the question of cause is bracketed (Ashworth & Lucas, 2000; Säljö, 1988).           103 3. treating al aspects of the lived experience as equaly important in the initial steps of analysis (“horizontalization”). Sandberg (2005) explains that ordering some aspects as more important than others may distract the researcher away from a truthful interpretation, especialy since a premature ordering of categories may increase the temptation to propagate the preferences, values and judgments of the researcher (as was similarly warned by Webb, 1997). 4. searching for structural features and/or meaning as a way to ensure that variation in interpretations of the data continues until the basic meaning of the lived experience is stabilized. This paralels the asertion to set aside the tendency to construct hypotheses and prior constructs, as was supported by Ashworth and Lucas (1998). The authors highlighted the danger of premature constructions of theoretical structures or other interpretations, or in too rapid foreclosure for the sake of producing categories of description (Åkerlind, 2002, 2005; Ashworth & Lucas, 2000).   In response to the asertions for bracketing, Richardson (1999) raises questions of the degree to which a researcher can fully bracket. In this research project, the position taken is similar to take of Richardson, and is shared by other researchers as wel (e.g., Rennie, 2000). Such a position also draws support from hermeneutics’ position on “prejudgment” – Gadamerian’s “enabling prejudices” (Bernstein, 1983, p.128). Gadamer aserts that it is enabling prejudices that alow us to experience something, to encounter something (Bernstein, 1983). The argument can also draw support from Hodson’s (1986) underscore that observation is theory-dependent, and that “viewing an object or scene…depends also on the experience, knowledge and expectations of the observer” (Chalmers, 1999, p. 7). Rather than running in contention to the practice of bracketing, these asertions can be appreciated to appeal for a          104 delicate balance and constant negotiation betwen the drawing from one’s own experiences and position to make judgments, to observe and to interpret, and on the other hand, to bracket these very asumptions and experiences. In other words, the inability to fully and perfectly bracket does not necesarily result in the dismisal of bracketing. In fact, the principles and goals of bracketing predispose the researcher, such as myself, towards being open and atentive to the participants. In other words, drawing from the principles and goals of bracketing inculcates an open disposition. It serves as a salient reminder of the necesitated avoidance of misinterpretation, underscoring my responsibility to understand the utterances of the participants. They also urged for an awarenes and sensitivity to my own experiences, agendas and prejudices (as described in Section 3.6), thus enabling me to criticaly examine my roles, manage my possible prejudices, and to avoid manipulating the participants or the data. Concurrent to the alowance of much needed self-reflexivity (Rennie, 2000), sensitivity to the principles of bracketing has also served to remind of the need to ensure reliability and validity throughout this study.   3.7.4 Establishing credibility in the study Guided by Lincoln and Guba’s (1985) criterion of “credibility”, the techniques of (1) prolonged engagement and persistent observation, (2) member checks and (3) triangulation were also applied to the current study.   3.7.4.1 Prolonged engagement and persistent observation  The duration of this research study aforded sufficient time for me to learn about the school culture and to understand the context in which the learning study was implemented. Prolonged engagement also alowed for the building of adequate trust and rapport without          105 “going native” (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). There was also sufficient time to become aware of the potential distortions that can emerge from my own a priori asumptions and my agendas (as discussed in Section 3.6).   The technique of “persistent observation” (Lincoln & Guba, 1985) was also employed in this study to identify the characteristics and elements that were most relevant to the inquiry. Acording to Lincoln and Guba, one important principle is that in the midst of sorting, the “atypical” is deemed to have importance. This was achieved in this study through the descriptions of each individual participant, thus alowing the particularities and the “atypical” aspects of participants’ experiences to emerge. Secondly, the approach of having al aspects of the experiences treated as equaly important in the initial steps (akin to Sandberg’s (2005) “horizontalization”) also alowed for these “atypical” qualities to come to the fore. Caling for careful and thoughtful deliberations as to how these qualities would have influenced the participants, they were useful in the subsequent delimitation and testing of the themes that were constructed.  3.7.4.2 Member checks Member checks alow for data, analytic categories, interpretations and conclusions to be tested by members from whom the data were originaly collected, thus constituting a crucial technique for establishing credibility (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). In view of the importance of the first set of interviews - that were drawn upon in the organization of the learning study as well as the interpretation of teachers’ experiences (in subsequent interviews and other sources of data), member checking was employed (as was described in Section 3.3.2, Meting 2).            106 3.7.4.3 Triangulation – use of multiple sources of data Multiple sources of data was used in this research study to enhance the completenes and richnes of the data (Dal’Alba, 1994), and to serve as a source of triangulation – as a way to establish the credibility of the findings and interpretations (Guba, 1981; Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Researchers have often used interviews with other sources of data, such as observations, drawings, writen responses, and historical documents (Marton & Booth, 1997). The use of the Genetics Questionnaire in the current study, for example, was similar to that of Kobala et al.’s (2005). With the aim to uncover novice teachers’ conceptions of teaching science, the authors’ study entailed the use of interviews as wel as a survey. Similarly, the complementarities of interviews and journal/reflective pieces, as used in this study, were also evident in other (phenomenographic) studies (Govender & Grayson, 2008; Van Eekelen et al., 2005). In the context of a learning study, student pre-leson and post-leson tests were often conducted alongside student interviews as a way to capture students’ understandings (e.g., Lo et al., 2004, 2006; Pang & Marton, 2003, 2005). These were likewise used in the current study.          107 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS AND DISCUSION  In this chapter, the results are presented and discussed. Three of the participating teachers’ individual experiences are described, followed by the discussion of five themes that served to capture the variation in the teachers’ experiences in the learning study.  4.1 Results and discusion The individual experiences of the participants were analyzed and described. As described in the previous chapter, the analysis borrowed largely from a phenomenographic perspective that focused on the experiences of the participants. A second-order perspective was also asumed. In using theory of variation as a framework, the description also captured how the participants experienced diferent aspects of their teaching and profesional lives diferently from before (in more enriched or diferent ways). The variations might have brought to their awarenes how they learnt in that proces as wel. The descriptions were guided by the following questions: 1. What are teachers’ understandings of their own teaching and learning practices before participating in and experiencing a learning study? 2. How does participation in the learning study influence teachers’ pedagogy and experiences of learning as a form of profesional development?  These guiding questions serve to elucidate the ways teachers, in participating in the learning study, learnt and were developed profesionaly. They were crafted in response to the          108 following research question: “How does Singaporean teachers’ participation in a theory of variation-framed learning study afect their learning about their own pedagogy?”  In this chapter, the individual experiences of Chris, Amy and Pam were described. These descriptions were chosen because of the variations in teachers’ experiences that were ilustrated in them, and because the three teachers taught the research lesons. Although the description of Kate’s individual experiences was not included, the description of her individual experiences was used in the construction and discussion of the themes. The chapter concludes with a description of these themes.   4.2 Chris’ experience of the learning study  Chris was deemed as one of the most experienced teacher in the team. Having taught for a total of 14 years, he has taught Grade 9-10 biology for five and a half years. Chris was also the only teacher in the team who taught life sciences for Grade 7-8.   4.2.1 Chris’ understandings of his own teaching and learning practices before participating in the learning study  Acording to Chris, helping students scafold and build a strong foundational knowledge of biology was important. This was evident in his emphasis on students needing to know biological terms and to understand the basic concepts of biology wel.  (C1) Chris: For me... I am more concerned about the students understanding the concepts. But I stres to them the first thing they need to know - the basic stuff, like terminologies, which I fel many of the students wil have problems; geting the right terms and the structures and functions stuff like that…            109 Because biological content was viewed as foundational for subsequent learning and the development of a more holistic understanding, addresing students’ misconceptions (excerpt C2) and helping students establish links betwen diferent concepts learnt (excerpt C3) were also priorities for him. Thus, students having to appreciate the big picture or overview ere also regarded as important. What is of interest, however, was that the establishment of links was often done “unconsciously”.  (C2) Chris: …So one of my role is to get their perceptions right. They may be curious about certain things, but they may have certain misconceptions or misunderstandings about what they have sen or heard… And if they are wrong, that’s easy to clarify and, you know, place them on the right track…    (C3) Chris: …we don’t tel the students, but hopefully by the end of it they wil learn to be able to se systems - how things are linked from one system or one part of the body to another. Because when we teach the subject, we teach digestive system, then we teach respiratory system and so on so forth. And unconsciously, I’ll try to lump and link them together…   In prioritizing students’ development of a holistic approach to biology, and in stresing the importance of mastering content knowledge, Chris often employed questioning as a technique to draw students’ prior understandings and to subsequently clarify them. He also drew from students’ questions to guide his own pedagogy. As revealed in the interviews, these practices were also reflective of Chris’ understanding of how he tried to gear his teaching towards student-centered approaches. For example, the introduction of “anecdotes” into Chris’ lesons was dependent on their relevance to the questions asked by the students (excerpt C4). Chris also occasionaly started his lesons with leson overviews, prior to going into the parts (excerpt C5).  (C4) Interviewer: Yeah, you were talking about looking at students’ previous knowledge, right? So how does that play a role in your planning of lesons or the way you are teaching?          110 Chris: …When I plan the leson, a lot of anecdotes [real-life examples, case studies or stories], you know. So these are built, you know, acquired along the way - from reading websites and other books and documentaries. So it just come(s), you know. I just “plonk” it into the leson. It’s not like in the leson plan, “I must say this”… students ask certain questions and then you’ll bring on certain anecdotes…   (C5) Chris: I fel that they wil benefit more if they se the whole picture. So as far as possible, though I (I) don’t think I did it for al the topics, as much as I can, I would like to give them the whole picture first.     Chris also perceived the goals of teaching biology to include helping students develop an appreciation for living things (excerpt C6). This could be achieved through the use of anecdotes, which in his case, referred to real-life examples, case studies and stories. His pedagogical strategy of using anecdotes aimed at establishing relevance. In other words, students are able to apply the biological concepts learnt to real-life setings.  (C6) Interviewer: So is that your ultimate aim of teaching biology? Chris: Yeah. Appreciating life – not just themselves, but plants, and other animals as wel.  Interviewer: So what are the strategies that you would use to help them to achieve this? Interviewe: Strategies? Interviewer: Or approaches… Chris: Approaches… story teling is one of them – making things more alive for them. Um, if I can get hold of relevant tapes or video clips, then yeah…    As revealed in excerpt C7, Chris actualy deemed helping students develop an ability to apply scientific principles, to se their relevance and hence appreciate life as pertinent in leading to the larger goal of scientific literacy. That is, students are empowered for future action – in understanding scientific phenomena, the world around them as wel as themselves (e.g., understanding why they fal il). In response, students can act acordingly by drawing on scientific understandings (e.g., protecting the environment, taking proper care, development of empathy).           111 (C7) Chris: I think if they are able to understand why certain thing happen(s), like why they fal il; why do they sweat, or you know, why a person faint(s), you know, when they exercise… that (that) wil be… I wil consider that wil be a succes already. So what happens after that depends on the girls themselves. If they are realy interested, if it’s like a relative geting il – diabetes and al those things, like what we are teaching now - excretion; homeostasis, then they may want to go further, as in, taking care, you know, proper care, like ensuring proper diet. And then, empathy – like pain going through dialysis; why that person has to go for dialysis 3 times a wek... I think appreciating and able to use their knowledge to explain the situation is already a succes. So if they can do something about it, or if they can empathize with the situation or the person, then I think that is way up. Yeah.          4.2.2 How participation in the learning study influenced Chris’ pedagogy and experiences of learning as a form of profesional development As ilustrated in the excerpts below, the collaborative planning of curricular flow was deemed a valuable experience that alowed Chris to become aware of the diferent ways of interpreting the new genetics curriculum (“So the value of others - their input, their experience and their perspective” – excerpt C8). The proces also alowed him to move beyond a heavy reliance on the textbook for curricular interpretation. He valued the opportunities to be able to link the diferent genetic topics and determine their flow in a way that was diferent from the textbook. The proces also encouraged reflection on the prescribed curriculum (“is there any way, beter way of doing it” –excerpt C8) and the exploration of new “possibilities”. This step in the learning study has alowed for increased clarity and coherence in his approach to curriculum interpretation. It has also served as a springboard whereby future organization of topics and students’ learning can likewise be planned (excerpt C9). (C8) Interviewer: Okay. Could I also direct your atention to this [points to script] - can you please help me clarify these two points [“geting a team of teachers to discuss and make a decision”; “not following the textbook flow blindly”] that you’ve put under the “Determination of curricular flow” [section in the overal reflective piece submited]? Chris: (Reads)… this first point is about involving others in making decisions. So the value of others - their input, their experience and their perspectives. So that is one. This is not following the textbook blindly [points to script]. So…. I can follow the textbook,          112 there’s nothing wrong with that. But I think sometimes we would want to question why is it done this way. Or we want to explore whether it is possible to work another way – whether we can be more efective. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with following the textbook. Just that, is there any way, beter way of doing it? Or, just to explore possibilities.  (C9) Chris: Okay. What I’ve learnt is in the planning stage, where we mapped out the whole leson flow and al this… And involvement of other teachers comes in. Most of the time, we, you know, because of whatever reason, we do it ourselves or we just follow what is available to the book…  Interviewer: So… does this give you an opportunity to do your planning diferently in the future? Chris: Yes, in the future, yes. Not al the time, not al the topics -  that’s like impossible. So maybe just build up starting from genetics and then, you know, genetics can be repeated next year, and then next year maybe can do something else.  And then after a few years you have a nice package.  (C10) Chris: … If I look at the whole… the few topics together, there’s one big chunk on genetics. So planning diferent [curricular] flow helps, because it gives me a very clear picture.   Another experience of the learning study that stood out for Chris was the use of student pre-leson test to uncover students’ prior knowledge. Frequently using questions to draw out these understandings instead, student pre-leson test was typicaly not employed. In the learning study, Chris valued how the pre-leson test revealed students’ conceptions that were often “taken-for-granted” (Marton & Booth, 1997, Marton & Tsui, 1994). For example, Chris’ former asumption was that students would have had a good grasp of the structure of genetic biophysical entities (such as chromosomes, DNA and genes), since these were introduced in earlier grade levels. However, the pre-leson test revealed gaps in students’ understanding. This afected how Chris planned his lesons to alow opportunities to specificaly re-addres these gaps, and to pitch his teaching to students’ initial levels of understanding. (The other team members also similarly shared his former perception, and they, likewise, planned their lesons to deliberately addres the gaps present.)           113 (C11) Chris: I think the pre-test was very helpful. I didn’t expect the percentage to be that low… So that means I have to pact my standard lower and then start, you know, and then start from almost entry level... To that extent, it has affected the teaching and the leson planning.  Interviewer: So did you, at any point of time, teach specificaly to addres some of the conceptions that arose from the pre-tests? Chris: Yeah, the structure is one – the gene and DNA portion. So I spent a bit of time, a litle bit more time on that… [emphasis mine]   The administration of student pre-leson test to ascertain students’ understanding also alowed for common ground (Marton & Booth, 1997; Marton & Tsui, 2004) to be quickly established. Being able to quickly establish common ground was highly valued by Chris, and was compatible with his teaching practices of drawing from students’ prior knowledge to guide his teaching. What is ilustrated here was how rather than merely employing the use of questions per se, the use of student pre-leson tests constituted a diferent way for Chris to establish common ground - thus aforded learning opportunities for him. The positive experiences Chris had in administering student pre-leson tests helped shape his view of the value of pre-leson tests, and his intentions to apply them in the future. (C12) Interviewer: …So is there anything that is in the theory that supports what you are already doing, and what you believe about teaching or students learning biology? Chris: … students would want to learn if they are interested. So what makes them interested is, I fel that if the common ground has been established, and we don’t pact it above it. If the common ground is established, then if we are able to build from there, then we wil be able to get the students interested to learn. And the theory of variation comes in if we can identify this common ground and then identify the critical aspects to change; to vary… Pre-tests - this is not done frequently. But I think every time I do it, it’s always beneficial. Cause the pre-tests give me an understanding of their common ground, um, trying to establish the common ground, and what misconceptions they have. So I think that is important and that wil… should help in planning.  As demonstrated above (excerpt 12), the determination of critical aspects of the object of student learning was dependent on students’ prior knowledge. Consequently, the paterns of variation and invariance to be enacted in the research lesons likewise drew from students’          114 initial understandings. This alowed the deliberate application of theory of variation to provide structure to the leson enactment. Included below is a description of Chris’ research lesons. (The description provided drew heavily from the audio-video recordings of the research lesons; recordings and notes of the post-leson conferences; researchers’ field notes including leson observation notes; as wel as the interview transcripts of both students and teachers.)    Research Leson 1: Introduction to genetic biophysical entities (1period, 30minutes) Chris implemented the research lessons in one of the top classes, comprising 26 girls. These girls were in the schol’s gifted program. As observed in this leson, Chris employed a variety of questions to elicit students’ prior knowledge and students’ answers. Questions were also used to scafold students’ answers. With respects to the enactment of patterns of variation and invariance in accordance to theory of variation, Chris varied the levels in which genetic materials could be understood (e.g., chromosomal, DNA, gene level) while keping the notion of genetic materials invariant. Another patern of variation employed was to constantly shift between the structural and functional aspects of genetic biophysical entities (of which the idea of biophysical entities, or reference to a specific biophysical entity was kept constant).   Chris started the leson by introducing the term chromosome and diferentiating it from sister chromatids, since students were often confused by the two terms. The concept of “homologous chromosomes” was subsequently introduced. Chris proceded to prompt students to differentiate chromatin, chromosome, sister chromatids, DNA and genes. The girls were given the task to order the terms acording to their relative sizes (a similar task was included in the pre-leson test). Students were called upon to volunteer their answers, and the diferent answers were compared. This part of the lesson allowed for clarification of students’ conceptions.           115 Students were then asked to discus what a gene is – Where is it found? What is gene made up of? What is its function? How many genes are there in a human? The questions served to uncover students’ views of chromosomes, DNA and genes. They also helped to shift students’ view from the chromosomal level to the DNA and gene level, and to shift from the structural aspects of these entities to the functional aspects. The latter not only shifted students’ attention to the nucleotide level, it also encouraged students to establish the structural and functional relationships between the different genetic entities. Chris subsequently prompted students to think about whether all cells in the human body contain the same genes – thus leading to the notion of gene expresion.  Using a bok analogy to help students become simultaneously aware of the structural and functional aspects, the different levels in which the components of a bok could be understod were compared with the diferent genetic biophysical entities – alowing a focus on the parts while positing a simultaneous focus on the “colective whole” (Marton & Both, 197) (like the whole bok). The foregrounding of the structural aspects included, for example, that chromosome is a bok; the sentences in the bok are the DNA; and that each gene is a sentence. The functional aspects were also focused upon, for example, by relating words to the sequence of the gene; that the order of the words is crucial for the sentence to make sense. Chris proceded to show an example whereby nonsensical words were interspersed within sentences, thus illustrating the coding and non-coding regions of the gene.  Research Leson 2: Functional aspects of genes: transcription and translation (3 periods, 90minutes)  The second leson was implemented a wek after the first one. In this leson, the original intention was to help students focus simultaneously on the structural and functional aspects of genes. But due to students’ confusion betwen the biophysical entities introduced in the last leson, Chris had to spend more time than originaly planed on the clarification of these entities. As consistent with his          116 teaching goals of helping students establish links betwen “parts” and the “whole”, he also devoted some time to help the students link “disparate pieces” of information by constructing maps on the whiteboard.   Chris started of the leson by asking students to draw a simple concept map to ilustrate the relationships betwen nucleotides, genes, DNA, chromosomes and chromatin, as wel as to diferentiate betwen homologous chromosomes and aleles. This served as a way to stimulate recal of the learning points in the previous leson. Diferent students were then asked to present their maps, with Chris providing fedback on the maps and how they could be improved – based on the relationships betwen the entities and their structural and functional relationships.   The first activity revealed that some students were stil confused about the diferences betwen chromatin, chromosomes, sister chromatids and homologous chromosomes. The relationship between chromatids and the number of copies of DNA and genes was also unclear. So Chris decided to spend more time to further clarify some of the confusion, by maping on the board the relationships betwen the entities even as the clas discusion proceded. Chris also introduced the term “histones”. The map also allowed students to include “bases” and “sugar-phosphate backbone” as components that make up nucleotides. (During the post-leson conference, how Chris employed theory of variation in this activity was brought to the atention of the team by the researcher. That is, together with the students, Chris explored the varied conceptions students had on the diferences between chromatin, chromosomes, sister chromatids and homologous chromosomes. He did this by mapping on the whiteboard diferent student understandings and subsequently guiding the students to arive at conceptions that were more closely aligned with the canonical science of genetics. The strategy and variation employed here was explained to the team as being similar to the “postman route” leson” (Runeson & Mok, 204).)  Chris proceded to shift students’ atention to the functions of genes and how they are involved in the production of proteins - on how genes produce RNA through the proces of transcription, and the          117 RNA subsequently results in the formation of amino acids during translation, and the proteins subsequently afect the traits that are expressed. The key concepts around gene expression were focused upon via the exploration of the relationships betwen genes, traits, proteins, amino acids, RNA, transcription and translation - even as the discusion resulted in a co-constructed concept map by Chris and his students. The key concepts of gene expression were then sumarized through a PowerPoint slide presentation. The presentation also alowed Chris to introduce more details of the proces of transcription and translation that were not previously discused. The students were then shown an animation (online video clip) ilustrating the transcription and translation proceses. Prior to a second viewing of the same clip, Chris tok the oportunity to explain certain parts in order for students to develop a clearer and more acurate interpretation of the clip. During the second viewing, Chris strategically stoped the animation at various points to highlight or explain certain steps. As consistent throughout the lesson, Chris employed the use of questions. Whenever apropriate, Chris would also vary the mode of presentation by ilustrating the same concepts on the board- through concept maps or diagrams drawn. At this point, new terms that would be reviewed in the next leson were also mentioned. In this way, diferent details pertaining to the genetic proceses of transcription and translation were layered. (During the post-leson conference, the pattern of variation and invariance enacted here was highlighted to the team - whereby concepts of transcription and translation were kept constant while the representation of the proceses, such as the use of PowerPoint slides; videos, were varied. Through this, other examples in which theory of variation was enacted were brought to the atention of the teachers.)  Towards the end of the leson, Chris highlighted a newspaper article featuring how some people suffered from heart conditions that were due to a single faulty gene, linking the condition to the production of an abnormal heart protein formed. The article also foreshadowed the patern of variation to be employed in the next leson, which would include the mutation proces. Chris also brought up another two articles focusing on the harvest and use of stem cells, in order to link what was learnt to the Grade 8 life sciences course.          118 Research Leson 3: Functional aspects of genes: the genetic phenomenon of mutation (3 periods, 90minutes)  This leson was implemented a wek after the second leson. Employing theory of variation, Chris designed and enacted a game, the “Scrable” game, to help students depen their understanding of the functional aspects of genes. The game also served to help students establish relationships betwen the structural and functional aspects of genes. Variation was aplied to the leters making up diferent words, akin to variation in nucleotide bases making up the nucleotide sequence of a gene – as was similar to the genetic phenomenon of gene mutation. In other words, the variation in the nucleotide sequences of the gene, which would result in variation of the products of transcription (mRNA formed) and translation (protein formed), was the pattern of variation and invariance used here. In this leson, Chris also used a patern of variation to introduce the diferent types of mutation, foregrounding how the formation of abnormal mRNA and abnormal protein, or amounts of them, could be attributed to diferent changes in the genes or chromosomes. In this case, the genetic phenomenon of mutation was kept constant, while the ways in which mutation could be brought about were varied. The leson was conducted within the first hour of the lesson. In the last thirty minutes of the lesson, the student post-leson test was administered.  The leson started with the “Scrable” game. Starting with seven tiles, the students worked in pairs to form as many words as possible. With each tile placed on the board, new tiles could be picked up. The pairs were instructed to score the awarded points acording to the length of number of words formed. Thus, the first part of the game served to direct students’ atention to the importance of nucleotide sequences in the gene.  The second part of the game shifted students’ atention to what would have hapened when the nucleotide sequences were varied. It entailed the switching of partners, whereby the “new” member was to inflict “damage” to the words formed on the board. The “damage” was determined by a list of          119 instructions that students would randomly pick. The new member of the group, acording to the stipulated damage, such as the substitution of leters of a word, would then enact the new changes. The los of proper words due to the changes would corespond to loses in the points awarded. At the end of the game, Chris encouraged the students to share about the insights gained. The learning points were writen on the board. The corelations between the learning points and genetic concepts were then made. Student responses included “a single change in leters can result in high damage” and “a single leter plays an important role” - both of which demonstrated how students demed the sequence of leters as important, extending to the idea of coding and non-coding sequences as well. Students’ responses also included “single change in letter could actually result in damages, although damages may not always happen”. This demonstrated the potential for developing an appreciation that while a single change in nucleotide can cause the gene to be expresed abnormaly, it is not always the case. Chris used these subsequent learning points to scafold the rest of the lesson, highlighting these points whenever relevant. It is noteworthy that during the post-leson interviews with students, it was comented upon that the game was efective in helping them realize the importance of the sequence of bases, and they were able to reiterate some of the learning points that they have acquired from the experience.  Using a PowerPoint slide presentation, a discusion in clas was then facilitated with the use of questions as prompters. Students were led to describe and explain the proces of mutation in terms of changes in nucleotide sequences in the coding regions of the DNA, that is, changes in the structure of genes. Chris also introduced the diferent types of mutagens and mutations – the later coresponding to substitution of bases, deletion of bases and gene adition/deletion. Students’ atention was thus shifted to focus on changes in gene sequences or number of gene copies, which can bring about a change in the expression of gene. Diferent examples were used to ilustrate the diferent mutation processes: ! Nucleotide substitution (example of sickle cel anemia) – changes in gene sequence ! Nucleotide deletion (case study on heart diseases) – changes in gene sequence ! Gene adition or deletion (example of Down Syndrome) – changes in gene copies          120  To further demonstrate the impact of altered amounts of proteins on the expression of traits, students were also shown examples of triploid watermelon. It is noteworthy that Chris’ intention was to help students develop the understanding that if there were changes in gene sequences or copies, changes in the products of transcription and translation will follow. However, these aspects, while being mentioned, were not as deliberately varied or highlighted.  The deliberate application of theory of variation resulted in the collective decision of including mutation into the topic of gene expresion, as was demonstrated in Chris’ research lesons. The topic of mutation was formerly taught together with another chapter, and links with gene expresion were seldom made. Not only did the inclusion of mutation help Chris teach the proceses of transcription and translation, its inclusion has also helped him make sense of the entire genetics unit, while concurrently adding coherence to the lesons (excerpt C13). This opportunity to establish links betwen topics constituted a new experience that was more deliberate (compare with excerpt C3).   The application of theory of variation also resulted in Chris having to enact paterns of variation and invariance in more systematic ways. Previously, Chris would instinctively use variation, albeit in a “more scatered” manner (excerpt 14). In addition, new resources were prepared. For example, real-life examples that would fit into the patern of variation were researched on and deliberately included into the leson (excerpt 15). Not only was this consistent with Chris’ practices of including anecdotes, but the use of anecdotes in this study was more intentional and wel planned than before (compare with excerpt C4).  (C13) Interviewer: …There’s this particular part where we talked about the theory of variation... could you clarify this part [pointing to interview transcript] about the theory being useful to make your leson more cohesive?          121 Chris: Okay. What I meant was, when we sat down to discuss, we plan out the pathway, the route we were going to take. So in that sense, we se more… we make more sense in the structure or the arrangement of the leson. So that wil help the teacher after that to plan the lesons, Yeah. So, yeah, that’s what I meant.  (C14) Interviewer: …Can we also look at the organization of the lesons? You talked about how it has actualy helped to make the planning more focused, when you used the theory of variation. So could you elaborate a litle bit on that? Chris: …So instead of digresing and then coming back, because of this [theory of variation], I am kept in check that I need to follow through the variation that I have made al the way… And I can make a diferent variation and show the students any similarities and diferences. So it becomes very focused in using variation. In the past, it wil be, wel, more scattered… sometimes I tend to digres – go on to bring in other concepts or other parts of the leson, and then I’ll come back… So it becomes disjointed. So with this, I tried doing just solely on, you know, the TOV [theory of variation]. So that way it’s more focused. Or rather, I’m more focused in executing the TOV. Yeah. [emphasis mine]  (C15) Chris: …in the planning, because I want to use the TOV [theory of variation], so I can research on the few examples that I can use. So that wil make my flow of lesons more intact, rather than what is from the book, or what is from my experience. Then I wil join the lesons together, then I wil join the various parts together… I can research on what are the mutations that result from al these changes. So I have real-life examples, rather than saying, “Okay, change of proteins… change of sequence… change of whatever” without the link to the real thing…  As ilustrated, the deliberate application of theory of variation has alowed Chris to experience the enactment of the whole genetics unit as wel as the individual lesons in a more coherent way. The application of the theory has helped him organize and implement students’ learning experiences. Believing that students’ learning can be enhanced (excerpt C16), the experience of deliberately applying theory of variation was also regarded as the acquisition of a skil that can be incorporated into his repertoire of pedagogical strategies, whereby the future application of the theory to guide the enactment of lesons could be more “rigorous” and “streamlined” (excerpt C16).  (C16) Chris: “I’ve learnt that students can benefit more from the leson when they se changes one at a time and their efects” – that’s TOV [theory of variation]... So you change and what’s the result? So that’s more on the understanding and the application part. So what I meant is the students wil benefit more if they can.. if we can take things one at a time. I think it’s quite obvious… If there’s an opportunity to apply TOV in          122 certain aspects of my lesons, then I wil be more conscious about it. That means that the efort wil be more rigorous and more streamlined, like digging for examples…    When asked to reflect on his experiences in the learning study that would constitute his own learning as a form of profesional development, Chris highlighted the experience of collaborative inquiry into his and his colleagues’ research lesons. Through the experience, he felt that his current teaching practices were supported, and that he also gained new insights on how to improve his pedagogy. The opportunities to observe colleagues’ lesons alowed an experience of the diferent ways in which theory of variation-framed lesons could be enacted. Coupled with the post-leson conferences, whereby these diferences were highlighted and discussed, Chris’ understanding of the theory deepened (excerpt C17). Acording to Chris, what was particularly helpful was that “unplanned” examples in which theory of variation were employed were also pointed out by the researcher. The overal experience influenced Chris’ perception of the fruitfulnes, as wel as his wilingnes, to apply the theory in future lesons. In addition, the widening of perspectives also served to further support, while adding a sense of clarity and meaning to, his former instinctive atempts to apply variation in his teaching. (C17) Chris: …I think through at least the two sesions of evaluation, I can se how TOV is used not just directly in teaching, but in other aspects… what are some of the les obvious examples of TOV [theory of variation] used in the other teachers’ lesons were discussed. So it made me aware that “Oh! You mean that is also TOV.”  The opportunities to observe colleagues’ clases also alowed Chris to experience learning through the eyes of his students (excerpt C18). This enabled him to evaluate students’ learning more eficiently and to more precisely pinpoint areas that needed further clarification. (C18) Interviewer: …So we are looking at the observation of your colleagues’ lesons. You mentioned that it is “good to observe how theory is applied to another clas…” So how did this actualy impact your own teaching, your pedagogy, or maybe your future teaching of the topic?          123 Chris: Okay. I‘ve writen here I have the luxury of looking at the students and also, in certain cases, interacting with the students while the teacher is … doing her stuff. So that wil give me an insight on how the student is feling or what she is thinking of at that point of time, after the leson or that part that is being taught… it wil help me if I need to empathize with the student…So I can se the teacher teaching something and what the student is feling imediately after that. But if I am teaching it, I am also thinking of what to say next… and I wouldn’t be able to interact with the student at al. Yup.    During the last interview, Chris was asked to review the Genetics Questionnaire that was completed at the beginning of the study, and to comment on how his views shifted, were chalenged or were supported by his experiences in the learning study. One of the noteworthy points brought up was how he now deemed students being able to establish links with real-life phenomenon as more important than before.   (C19) Chris: … I wil rank number “4” [“encourage students to establish links with real-life phenomenon that is related to genetics] as number “3” [more important]. I think in order for biology to be real to them, they must se the links to real-life phenomena, instead of just studying it in the clasroom…  Interviewer: And now you change it to “3” [ranked as being more important]. So was there anything in the learning study that made you switch? Like, was there a support for the switch? Chris: I think the more you se the students responding to the real-life examples and case studies… I think that wil probably… that wil tel me that that is a more powerful tool to use in learning… Interviewer: So what is the “real-life example/s” that you think you used? Chris: The one that came to my mind, and we discussed, is the mutation part…  The inclusion of mutation when teaching the concept of gene expresion has further deepened Chris’ prior conviction about needing to help students establish links with real-life phenomenon and apply what is learnt beyond the clasroom context. Chris’ experiences in the learning study have also led him to refine his belief. When measured against the goals of helping students to excel in examinations and thus to teach the stipulated content, generation of students’ interest and his wider goal of scientific literacy was now more important than before. (C20) Chris: If given a choice, I would like to move “5” [“to help students understand and ‘judge’ reports of genetic-related isues made available through various media, such          124 as the newspaper”] and “6” [“to generate students’ interest in genetics”] higher. Yup, more important… But you know, having these [“to enable students to be beter prepared to answer the genetics questions in the exams”; “to help student develop an understanding of the genetics content in the syllabus/textbooks”] the same, and raising this [“to help students understand and ‘judge’ reports of genetic-related isues made available through various media, such as the newspaper”; “to generate students’ interest in genetics”] up to this level…   4.2.3 Chris’ learning about his own pedagogy What is demonstrated in the previous section was how Chris’ participation in the learning study granted him varied experiences that alowed him to experience his own learning as a form of profesional development. His profesional beliefs and pedagogy were also influenced in diferent ways. The experiences have alowed him to have his current beliefs and practices supported and refined. They also constituted new experiences that he could draw on in future to improve his own pedagogy. The experiences that semed to stand out for him, particularly, were opportunities to: (1) collaboratively determine the curricular flow, which granted increased clarity and coherence to curricular interpretation. The experience also alowed for a way to move beyond a heavy reliance on prescribed curricular materials and towards more authentic leson planning.  (2) elicit students’ prior understandings through the administration of pre-leson tests. This influenced how Chris deliberately addresed students’ problematic conceptions and efectively established common ground with the students. (3) deliberately employ theory of variation to guide the enactment of his lesons, even as the theory added greater coherence betwen the genetic topics and within the lesons. Chris also experienced diferent ways in which theory of variation was employed in his colleagues’ lesons. Both of these experiences supported his use of variation previously,          125 while enabling him to experience a more systematic use of variation to further enhance his teaching. The deliberate use of the theory also resulted in the creation of new curricular resources and activities. Consequently, Chris came to a deeper conviction of the usefulnes of the theory in enhancing students’ learning.  (4) deepen his previous convictions about what good biology teaching would include, that is, to establish links with real-life phenomenon.   What is also worth noting was how the influence of the learning study on Chris’ pedagogy and profesional learning was viewed to be stronger than in some other profesional development arrangements. This was atributed to how the learning study was implemented within the context of the teachers’ own clasrooms - providing the teachers with opportunities to personaly inquire into their own teaching practices; be engaged in a “hands-on” manner, while concurrently being imersed within a collaborative seting. Thus, Chris’ experiences likewise support the asertion of other researchers that underscore the importance of teacher collaboration (Arbaugh, 2003; Lieberman, 2000; Shulman & Sherin, 2004; Wineburg & Grossman, 1998) and teachers’ inquiry into their own clasroom as profesional development (Nelson & Slavit, 2007; Smylie, 1989; Stigler & Hiebert, 1999). Similarly, this supports the critiques in literature pointing to the deficiencies in “one-shot” profesional development approaches (se Clarke and  Hollingsworth (2002) for a review). (C21) Interviewer: So how did this experience [participation in the learning study]… how did it help you to learn about your own pedagogy? Chris: Okay. The first thing that comes to my mind is the efectivenes, or the takeaway wil be much greater than going for a two-day course – to sit down and listen and then, someone to share about, you know, the experiences. Yeah. Because it’s a (it’s a) team efort, so you get to se other’s perspectives, although it is more time-consuming that way. The other thing is that you get to execute it. And then, you know, evaluate it soon after. So the learning curve is steper than, yeah, like going for a course. So that part, the impact is stronger or greater. Yeah. [Emphasis mine]          126 4.3 Amy’s experience of the learning study  With three years of experiences teaching Grade 9-10 biology, Amy was regarded as one of the les experienced teachers in the team. She has taught the new genetics curriculum only once.   4.3.1 Amy’s understandings of her own teaching and learning practices before participating in the learning study  Acording to Amy, helping students develop an interest in and to enjoy biology were of most importance. She believed that the development of interest would aid in content retention, and would motivate her students to learn (excerpt 1). This belief afected how she would use games and other activities in her lesons, even if it meant that les learning was yielded (excerpt A2).   (A1) Interviewer: So why do you think enjoyment is so important? What’s the benefit that you se that it has? Amy: I think in order for them to even want to study for that subject, they must enjoy whatever that they are reading, so which is why it is very important for me to inculcate in them that interest in whatever that they are reading. So if… when the next time they read that topic and they can at least recal back that we did this during clas, I’m hoping that that wil at least motivate them to read and, you know, understand the concepts a little bit beter. Yeah.   (A2) Amy: …when I teach, I prefer to include like games… what’s important in my leson at the end of the day is that my students enjoy that time that’s spent thinking about bio [biology]… even though certain games might not necesarily yield a lot of learning on the students’ part right, I think it’s the interest that I realy want to build in them.   Amy also believed that students’ enjoyment, interest and love for biology were necesary for the development of an appreciation for life. (A3) Amy: …al I want is for them to develop an interest in bio, a love and interest in bio. Yeah, that is my ultimate goal, I mean, above and beyond the (GCE) “O” Level (examination) grade…          127 Interviewer: So what do you think, then, is the learning outcome that you realy hope to se in your clasrooms? Amy: I think that would be my big goal – to be able to appreciate life; to be able to appreciate creation. Yeah.   Despite Amy’s larger goal of helping students develop an appreciation for life, the sharing of her own teaching experiences during the first interview revealed that during leson planning and enactment, the focus was largely on the delivery and learning of content. For example, she viewed that good biology teaching required lesons to be wel organized in order that content could be clearly presented to reduce confusion (excerpt A4). Believing that the organization of presentation slides directly influences students’ ability to link diferent concepts, great atention was also paid to the arrangement of PowerPoint slides, of which she utilized heavily in her teaching. (A4) Interviewer: …so why is it important for content to be clear? Amy: So that there wil not be any… they wil not fel confused… I think that the presentation of the content has to be clear. So if, whether you are teaching from slides or from the textbook or anything (else), it has to be presented in an organized manner…   What is worth pointing out is that Amy’s preparation and organization of her lesons relied heavily on prescribed curricular materials. This was also ilustrated in how she translated the stipulated content in the prescribed curriculum into questions (excerpt A5). The excerpt below also reveals how she relied on the prescribed curriculum to help student prepare for tests and examinations, thus suggesting her view of the curriculum as an asesment-driven one. (A5) Amy: Okay, I wil look at the syllabus [prescribed curriculum], so that’s something I wil include into my slides. Then after that I wil question - I wil then try to translate them into questions like “What is the purpose of, say, the excretory system?” - for example. And that’s how I then organize my slides – into questions, and then with these questions, (then) my slides wil then give them the answers.  Interviewer: So why bother to convert them into questions? Amy: I think because it (it) wil help them when it comes to answering like test papers and exams papers. Yeah.            128  Amy also believed that good biology teaching entailed teachers creating a safe space for students to ask questions. She believed that students wil ask questions when they understood what was taught. Hence, students’ questions constituted a way for Amy to elicit fedback from students (excerpt A6). In other parts of the interview transcripts, Amy also mentioned the use of worksheets to check for students’ understanding.  (A6) Amy: ...Which is why right now when I teach my students (also), I always emphasize on this fact that “if you have any questions please by al means come to me”. Yeah. And like, just, there isn’t like any question that is too stupid or too dumb to ask. Yeah.      Interviewer: So why are you wiling to entertain the questions? Amy: I don’t want them to be afraid of even asking, yeah.  Interviewer: So what is the benefit of them being able to ask? Amy: What is the benefit of them… I think when they are able to ask, that’s when they realy understand. Yeah.     The development of students’ capacity to apply biological concepts beyond the context of the clasroom to “real-life example” (excerpt A7) also constituted Amy’s perception of good biology teaching – an aim related to the broader goal of scientific literacy. Moreover, students’ demonstration of such a capability would reflect that they have understood the lesons, and thus served as a means of fedback for Amy.  (A7) Amy: …Wel I think that I (I) fel quite good when I’m with a group of students and they like… something happens, say someone fals, and they are able to, maybe just for the fun of it, they (just) start to think about the clotting mechanism or something like that. It goes to show that they have understood what has been taught, and now when they actualy se a real-life example, they are able to, you know, explain with confidence. So to me that is really applying what they have learnt in class… [emphasis mine]  Acording to Amy, she constantly drew from the Internet to find suitable examples that she can use to help students apply the biological concepts learnt. She also varied the use of diferent phenomena in which the same biological concepts or mechanisms can be applied to (“bring in new scenarios” - excerpt A8).          129 (A8) Amy: …in terms of the application… for example, we recently covered excretion, so we’ll talk a litle more about kidney transplant, peritoneal dialysis, things that, you know, help to apply… You know, it’s stil applying the idea behind difusion and al that. So it’s like bringing a new scenario in but we’ll stil focus on the same mechanism. Yeah. [emphasis mine]    Amy’s clasroom practices sem to be largely focused on content and the mastery of it. Her deep conviction of the importance of good content delivery also shaped how she felt that the gap betwen her current teaching practices and what she deemed as good biology teaching hinged on her lack of teaching experiences. She believed that increased years of teaching would result in beter content delivery.  4.3.2 How participation in the learning study influenced Amy’s pedagogy and experiences of learning as a form of profesional development Amy deemed the opportunity to collaboratively determine the curricular flow as a valuable experience. In her reflective entry, she expresed that although the proces of determining the curricular flow was long, that it “alowed me to plan the content that I wish to cover in each leson to alow a smoother flow, as compared to previous experiences where my teaching objectives are afected/aligned to the syllabus order”. When probed in the subsequent interview for an example of what she meant by a “smoother flow”, Amy explained that previously, disparate pieces of information found within diferent genetic topics were taught at diferent times. In contrast, in the learning study, these topics were rearranged and were taught together in order to help deepen students’ understanding of gene expresion.  (A9) Amy: Oh… You se like gene mutation, previously I wouldn’t cover it under this chapter. I wil only come to that when I teach inheritance. So in that sense, this alowed me to… alowed me to connect it nicely. Yeah.           130 What is ilustrated above was an experience of increased clarity and coherence in Amy’s approach to curriculum interpretation. The clarity and coherence was also brought about through the forging of a common understanding (“common platform” – excerpt A10) amongst the team as to what was important in the genetic lesons. The scope and depth of the new genetics curriculum were collaboratively explored and determined. This was brought about through the collaborative determination of curricular flow and subsequent planning of research lesons (excerpt A10 & A11). (Excerpt A11 also suggests that Amy’s former interpretation of the prescribed curriculum was a content-driven one, and how she has shifted to focus on students’ understanding as opposed to the content per se.)  (A10) Amy: …this time round because there were three of us [the three teachers teaching the research lesons], it was good that we had this common platform to realy write down what we want to do.   (A11) Amy: In that sense that was always at the back of my mind, like, “What was the main focus?” So even though I was covering the same details…I did not focus overly, like, too much on them. Yeah. Instead, I try to draw it back to how we always want to help them understand the links; the gene, and its place in this whole topic… [emphasis mine] Interviewer: So was this a new focus compared to the last round when you taught the topic? Amy: Yes, definitely. Because last year when I taught, it was more like I followed very closely to the syllabus and the sequence. So that was more of (like) addresing what the syllabus wanted, and I just covered it in that sense…    In addition, learning study’s focus on helping students develop a specific capability (object of student learning) also granted Amy greater clarity and coherence in her approach to curriculum interpretation (excerpt A12) - although her view of the object of student learning was synonymous to “critical aspects”, thus conferring slightly diferent meanings to the terms as would be prescribed in research literature.            131 (A12) Amy: I like the emphasis on finding a “critical aspect” [referring to the object of student learning] as that makes it very clear on what we need to focus on across the entire series of lesons… the emphasis on a specific capability was very useful for me as that alowed me to look beyond the syllabus to focus on a concept that is necesary for a beter understanding of genetics to be developed. [from Amy’s reflective entry]   The increased clarity and coherence in Amy’s approach to curriculum interpretation was further brought about through opportunities to observe one another’s lesons. As mentioned in Chapter 3, it was deliberately organized such that Chris would implement his research lesons before Pam and Amy. In this way, Pam and Amy could participate in the observation and evaluation of Chris’ lesons prior to enacting their own. Such an arrangement has alowed Chris, who was a more experienced teacher, to serve as a resource whereby his experiences, expertise and views were drawn upon. As revealed in excerpt A13 (and other parts of the transcripts), Amy thought that prior to participation in the learning study, she was not very clear about “how much to teach; and what to teach; and what to focus on”. This ilustrates how she felt that there was a lack of clarity when she initialy approached the curriculum. But in observing Chris’ lesons, she eventualy became clearer as to “how much to cover, the depth to cover”. (A13) Interviewer: Can we also look at teacher collaboration, where you actualy mentioned about being able to “draw on each teacher’s strength and content knowledge” [mentioned in Amy’s reflective entry]? Can you elaborate a litle bit more about that? Amy: I think it was about how when we first started, we weren’t very clear about, say, gene expresion – how much to teach; and what to teach; and what to focus on. So, Chris being more experienced in this… So when I sat in his clas, that gave me a good idea of how much to cover, the depth to cover with them as wel…    What was demonstrated is how Amy’s engagement with interpreting the curriculum was not relegated to the initial steps of the learning study, but was a constant proces that took place right through the enactment and observation of the research lesons. The experiences of collaborative planning and leson observations constituted new ays for Amy to experience her          132 approach to curriculum interpretation, that is, with greater clarity and coherence. The experiences have also alowed for a more authentic leson planning experience that moved away from a heavy reliance on the prescribed textbook (excerpt A12). These experiences were also enriched by her experience of systematicaly inquiring into students’ prior knowledge. The student pre-leson test results alowed her to have a beter understanding and “to be more sensitive to their misconceptions/areas of confusion” (taken from her reflective entry), thus afecting her leson planning. The excerpt below, taken from her reflective entry, demonstrates how she drew on students’ understanding to determine the focus of her lesons. Rather than “focusing on everything” (as prescribed by the curriculum), which she would have done in the past, she could now hone in on certain aspects that she felt warranted greater atention. (A13) Amy: The data collected alowed me to read and have a beter understanding of what they know or what they think they know. This gave me a clearer idea of their prior knowledge and that helped in the way I structured my leson, by choosing certain aspects to focus on instead of focusing on everything.   Having been more sensitized towards students’ “misconceptions” (a term used by the teachers to define students’ conceptions that may not be consistent with canonical science) and areas of confusion, Amy reorganized her slides to addres students’ problematic conceptions. She also planned to use her curricular resources diferently from before. For example, having developed an appreciation that it was important to “start at a point that students can experience/relate” (as mentioned in her reflective entry), in her research leson, a video was viewed thrice instead of only once. The first time round, the video was used to establish common ground, and to form connections with students’ prior knowledge without being weighed down by biological terms (excerpt A14). In the subsequent viewings, links betwen students’ prior knowledge and new concepts to be learnt could be established, even as diferent          133 aspects that students have to simultaneously atend were layered. In a similar manner, Amy came up with an activity that required students to map the relationships betwen traits and genetic biophysical entities, with the aim to establish links betwen the structural and functional aspects that were often absent in students’ understandings.  (A14) Interviewer: Okay. So how did you addres their [students’] conceptions in your lesons? Amy: …I think it’s more of like the focus of my slides, yeah. And like, for example, when I taught the protein synthesis portion also, that was something that I felt that they were realy quite lost initialy. So that was why I thought of doing it [a video clip] over three stages, to help them maybe reconnect from Sec. two first, through the first round. Then slowly add on with the next few rounds.  Amy’s experiences of systematicaly inquiring into students’ prior knowledge, and subsequently using them to guide her clasroom teaching, have resulted in her disposition towards using student pre-leson test in the future. When sharing about how the learning study influenced her pedagogy and her own learning of it, Amy also explicitly mentioned that she has learnt how to plan and use a pre-leson test (including the range of questions to include) to aid in the teaching proces.   The employment of theory of variation, serving as a source of structure, has also largely influenced Amy’s experience of planning and enacting students’ learning experiences in her research lesons. A description is provided to ilustrate Amy’s enactment of theory of variation-framed lesons.  Research Leson 1: Introduction to genetic biophysical entities (3 periods, 90minutes) Amy implemented the research lesons in a higher ability clas within the schol, comprising 28 girls. Amy established comon ground with the students by approaching the topic using the notion of traits, which, as was informed by research literature and the results of student pre-leson test and          134 interviews, was a comon way for students to aproach the topic of genetics. Results from the student pre-leson test and interviews also indicated that students faced challenges in establishing structural relationships betwen chromosomes, DNA, genes and nucleotides, as wel as the lack of functional relationships being evident in their understanding. Similarly, the notion of genes being switched “on” and “of” was often mising in students’ conceptions. Amy drew upon these understandings and deliberately addresed them in her leson. Within this leson, Amy has also employed a pattern of variation and invariance - systematicaly varying the levels in which genetic materials can be understod (e.g., chromosomal, DNA, gene level), while keping the notion of genetic materials invariant. Consistent with her belief that helping students establish links betwen concepts are important, Amy shifted betwen the structural and functional aspects of the biophysical entities. In adition, she crafted an activity (“The Incredibles”) to encourage students to simultaneously focus on and establish relationships betwen the diferent levels in which genetic materials can be understod.  Amy started the leson by showing students a picture of comic superheroes (“The Incredibles”). Using it as an entry point and to establish comon ground, she posed the question “What makes us all unique?”  In answering the question, students described the diferences in terms of visible traits - for example, whether hair is curly or straight; skin color; eye color. Amy proceeded to define “notable traits” and related it to the concept of genes. She then procede to help students consider the impact of environmental factors on the expression of traits.  The next part of the leson focused on the structural aspects of genetic materials. Looking into the components within the nucleus, Amy proceeded to introduce chromosomes. However, at this point of time, a student raised a question as to whether the gene for eye color is found only in the cells of the eye. Amy diverted the question to the rest of the clas, with most of the students expresing their views that all cells contained the ful set of genes. Amy then guided students towards a brief understanding that the genes responsible for eye color are expresed only within the eye cels. She then proceded to return to          135 her original focus of introducing the chromosomes, and constantly linked it back to how they are involved in the expresion of traits. The structure of the chromosome was shown to the students (uncoiling of the chromosome to expose the DNA strand and histones) and discussed in detail. Amy then proceded to help students link the chromosomal level to the DNA level, by asking students to think about how many DNA molecules form one chromosome. Students were then shown another diagram, which ilustrated that one DNA molecule is coiled to form one chromosome. The same diagram was also used to establish the structural relationships betwen DNA, chromatin and chromosomes. This part of the leson concluded with an introduction to “karyotype” (whole set of chromosomes aranged in pairs and sorted acording to type and size) and related concepts (e.g., autosomes and sex chromosomes; homologous chromosomes).  Varying the level in which genetic materials can be understod, Amy then proceded to help students shift their attention to the DNA level.  Students were to share with the clas what they already know about DNA. Students’ answers revolved around the structural aspects of DNA, such as DNA containing nucleotide bases, and that it has a double helix structure. Using PowerPoint slides, Amy taught the structure of DNA in detail. The presentation was also used to bridge the DNA level to the nucleotide level, encouraging students to simultaneously keep within their focal awarenes the structure of DNA and the nucleotides. With the use of the whiteboard, Amy introduced the concept of complementary base pairing.  Shifting the levels again, the gene and nucleotide levels were focused upon. The structure of a gene, including nucleotides, was discussed in detail. Students were then shown a diagram illustrating diferent coding regions on a segment of a DNA, and how the diferent regions coded for diferent coresponding proteins. The idea that genes can be turned “on” or “of” was introduced.           136 Amy proceded to sumarize the leson, prior to seting the students the task to be completd before the next leson. The clas was separated into 5 groups, and the students were given the task of identifying the traits of “The Incredibles” that made them “superheroes”. On a large piece of paper, students were to use their imagination to map out the karyotype of the character assigned to them; identify specific genes on the DNA; and to name the proteins that were involved in giving the “superhero” his/her special powers. The aim of this activity was to help students establish the links betwen the diferent genetic entities, and to link the structural aspects to the functional aspects - by focusing on the concept that genes wil produce specific proteins that wil result in the expression of traits, and in this case, the special powers confered to the “superheroes”. The remaining time was allocated to students to complete this task.  Research Leson 2: Functional aspects of genes: transcription, translation and mutation (3 periods, 90minutes)  The second leson was implemented a wek after the first one. The functional aspects of genes, focusing on the proceses of transcription, translation and mutation, constituted the focal point of the leson. Different types of gene mutations were also introduced. Within the lesson, Amy also employed paterns of variation and invariance in the way she screned a video thre times, and varied the representations in which the proceses of transcription and translation could be understod (use of whiteboard, video, on PowerPoint slides). What were also evident were Amy’s deliberate attempts to utilize students’ prior knowledge.  Serving to stimulate recal of the previous leson, students were asked to share what they learnt in the last leson. Questions were posed to guide students through describing genetic key terms (e.g., chromosomes, chromatin, histones, DNA, genes, nucleotides). In highlighting the production of proteins and its relationship to the expression of traits, links between the structural and functional aspects of genes were also established. Students were then told that they would be focusing on the proceses that          137 occur prior to the production of proteins. Focusing on the question – “How are proteins made?” Amy drew on the whiteboard a sequence of nucleotides. Drawing on students’ prior knowledge of complementary base pairing, students were guided to “transcribe” the sequence writen on the board, and subsequently to translate the transcribed sequence into the coresponding amino acids. Amy proceded to show a set of keywords that students were instructed to copy on a blank piece of paper. Amy then screned a video regarding the process of transcription and translation, without the sound. In pairs, students were to jot down what they have observed in the video. As the video was played, Amy provided prompts in terms of questions to help students focus on various parts of the video. (Subsequent post-leson conference and teacher interviews revealed that Amy’s intention was for students to make sense of the video via observation, without having to worry about the appropriate terminology. During the post-leson conference, the team also comented that this step was efective in encouraging students to conect with their prior knowledge.)  During the second viewing, students were to layer their observations and notes with the set of keywords formerly copied onto their pieces of paper. Again, the video was played without any sound. Subsequently, the clas discused about the video, and the steps observed in the video were mapped out onto the whiteboard. It was observed that students started to modify their notes to include information that was missing. In this part of the leson, students’ attention was thus directed from what they previously knew to new terms and details of the proceses. During the last viewing, the video was played with sound. The links that students have formed between their prior knowledge and the new concepts could thus be reinforced. Any problematic conceptions that students had could also be further clarified. (As interpreted by the team during the post-leson conference, the second and third round of viewing granted students opportunities to fil gaps in their understandings and to make linkages. It was also valued that the video has alowed students to posit a simultaneous focal awarenes on (1) the general principles of transcription and translation that they have encountered in lower grade levels, which focused more on traits, and (2) the new details of transcription and translation (as stipulated in the new          138 genetics curriculum) that would require students to posit a focus on gene and nucleotide levels.) As a sumary of the processes, Amy varied the representations in which the genetic processes of transcription and translation could be understod through the use of a diagram.   After a short break, the leson shifted to focus on another guiding question – “What if an eror occurs?” Thus, the proces of mutation constituted the focal point of this part of the leson. Students were introduced to the concept of gene mutation as wel as chromosomal mutation through the use of PowerPoint slides. With regards to gene mutation, the variation within the proces of mutation - nucleotide substitution, nucleotide inversion, nucleotide deletion and nucleotide addition were focused on. Amy then proceded to highlight a case study that was included in their prescribed curriculum – sickle cel anemia. The changes in the nucleotide sequence, afecting the mRNA formed in the transcription proces, subsequently changing the amino acid sequence formed in translation and thus the protein formed, were systematicaly presented. (During the post-leson conference, Pam highlighted this systematic variation as being efective for students’ learning.) Extending the case study to another topic found in another chapter, Amy proceded to briefly explain about the inheritance of traits. Amy also related it to the notion of genes being turned on and of. With respects to this part of the leson, what is noteworthy is that there was no explicit attempt to help students systematically move through the levels in which gene mutation can be understood. In other words, students did not adequately experience a patern of variation (apart from the brief PowerPoint presentation). Consequently, believing that this resulted in persistent gaps of understanding (as was discused during the post-leson conference and as reflected in students’ post-leson test and interviews), Amy revisited this part of the leson later on (excerpt A2). Varying the ways in which mutation can ocur, Amy proceded to briefly introduce Down Syndrome as an example of chromosomal mutation. Showing a karyotype of a person with Down Syndrome, the extra chromosome found within the 21st pair was clearly pointed out. Amy did not, however, link the extra chromosome to the transcription and translation proces. To conclude the leson, mutagens were then introduced.          139 As ilustrated in the description of lesons above, the employment of theory of variation as a source of structure on leson enactment served to increase coherence betwen the diferent genetic topics (e.g., the inclusion of mutation to increase coherence betwen genetic topics - excerpt A9) as wel as the coherence within the leson itself. An example of the later is the enactment of a more deliberate and systematic variation of the structural aspects of genetic materials, alowing Amy to enact teaching this part of the leson diferent from before. Formerly, she would quickly browse over this aspect using one PowerPoint slide to explain the diferences  (excerpt A15 & A16). Amy’s decision to focus and emphasize this aspect in her leson was partly due to the research literature introduced during the learning study to highlight students’ learning dificulty in relation to the diferent levels of organizations (Bahar, Johnstone & Hansel, 1999; Duncar & Reiser, 2007; Mbajiorgu et al., 2007; Marbach-Ad & Stavy, 2000), and in part due to students’ pre-leson test results. What is worth noting is that in Amy’s reflective entry, she highlighted “changes in delivery of lesons” as a key diference in the way she experienced the teaching proces in the learning study. She also explicitly mentioned that a way in which participation in the learning study has afected the learning about her own pedagogy was that she has gained a clear understanding of a theoretical framework (theory of variation) that can be used. In addition, she has learnt to be more explicit in teaching aspects that are important – both in focusing on the critical aspects to be varied as wel as the enactment of more deliberate and systematic variations (excerpt A15 & A16). In the interview, Amy has also expresed her wilingnes to employ theory of variation in future lesons.  (A15) Interviewer: So how helpful was it to apply a theory to the planning and the implementation of the lesons? Amy: How useful was it… Um, I think for this theory it was like… for me it was helpful because it gave me structure to tel me that, “Hey, this is something I should deliberately do”. Yeah, so in that sense, that helped me. Yeah, I knew that I had to change; something I had to be very explicit about it. Yeah. [emphasis mine]              140 (A16) Amy: …I made a conscious efort to move it from something macro down to the smaler part. So like I (I) discussed the structure of the DNA only towards the later part, and then I brought in the gene at the very end...I fel that that helped the students to understand that in terms of structural diferences –which is larger, which is smaler, something like that. Yeah.   Interviewer: So how diferent was it the last time you taught it? Amy: I think the last time we did a realy quick one. It was just like one slide to explain the diferences betwen your… the DNA, chromosomes and chromatin – with just one diagram. To show what happens when you unwind it.    Another aspect that came to the fore of Amy’s experience of her own learning as a form of profesional development was related to the opportunities for Amy to inquire into her own, and her colleagues’, teaching practices. Apart from learning from a more experienced colleague (such as Chris – excerpt A13), Amy also benefited from observing her peer’s (such as Pam’s) lesons (excerpt A17). The opportunities to observe colleagues’ lesons alowed Amy to personaly experience the diferent ways in which theory of variation-framed lesons could be enacted. Not only did it alow for clarification and strengthening of Amy’s own understanding of biological content to be taught, it also alowed for the generation of insights on how to improve her own teaching practices (such as the picking up of Chris’ questioning techniques and his use of concept maps to benefit student’ learning).  (A17) Amy: …I mean the (the) leson observation was good, yeah - alowed me to se and learn from the others who had more experience [Chris]. I mean, even for Pam, even though her knowledge of the topic might be the same as me, right, the way she taught her leson was also very diferent. So that also showed me how I can possibly do it diferently, yeah. [emphasis mine] Interviewer: So… are there any strategies that your colleagues have used, and that you have observed, that you might want to use the next time round you teach genetics? Amy: I actualy like Chris’ way of questioning, and just using the whiteboard, yeah, to capture the teaching [and students’ learning]… So that’s something which I think is very helpful and useful, which I wil want to do.  As demonstrated above, participation in the learning study has granted Amy an experience of how questions could be formulated and utilized in a clasroom discourse diferently – standing          141 in contrast with how she typicaly would craft questions through a heavy reliance on the textbook (excerpt A5). Her understanding of how questions could be used also deepened (excerpt A18), fueling her desire to likewise develop efective questioning skils. (A18) Interviewer: Okay. You’ve talked about the skils that you have learnt, or you have picked up. So could you reiterate some of the skils? Amy: … I think esentialy the major thing that I’ve learnt was about efective questioning. Yeah, that was one of them. Interviewer: So what do you think efective questioning is based on, or what constitutes efective questioning? Amy: I think it’s the type of questions that you ask - to be able to come up with questions that can cover a wide scope, and at the same time, there’s a smooth continuation from one point to the next. Yeah. And to vary it in such a way that you are able to narrow… zero in on what you are looking on, rather than asking questions that give you very wide and very vague answers. Then those aren’t very helpful.    The post-leson conferences, whereby fedback and suggestions for improvements of enacted lesons were provided, also encouraged Amy to become more aware of her own teaching practices and how her pedagogy could be improved. For example, deeming it to benefit students’ learning, Pam highlighted Amy’s use of a patern of variation to systematicaly demonstrate the cascading efects of variation in nucleotide sequences – presented through a diagram used in Amy’s PowerPoint presentation. This alowed the deepening of her conviction to continue to employ various pedagogical strategies and resources to benefit students’ learning.  (A19) Interviewer: Okay, let’s look at the post-leson metings. You talked about it making you “aware of parts of the lesons that could be improved, and concrete ideas of ways to improve them” were suggested by your colleagues [mentioned in Amy’s reflective entry]. Can you give some examples? Amy: …when I prepared my slides for, what you cal that, for gene mutation; the sickle cel and al that, I actualy just did it because I thought it made logical sense to look at the cel and al that. But when Pam actualy pulled it out that it was helpful, then it made me more aware that “Hey! This is something I should do, yeah.”    Similarly, during the post-leson conference, the researcher explicitly highlighted to the team how theory of variation was enacted in Amy’s research leson – the viewing of a video on          142 transcription and translation three times. A strategy that was similarly employed in Marton and Tsui’s (2004) book was highlighted to the teachers. The teachers were also provided with the relevant chapter in the book that described the strategy, underscoring the need for purposeful repetition as a tool to foster reflective learning (Linder & Marshal, 2003; Marton & Trigwel, 2000). Similar to Chris’ experience, this deepened and enriched Amy’s former “instinctive” atempts to apply variation in her teaching, and thus served to support her current teaching practices (excerpt A20). The fedback received helped shape her perception of the usefulnes of theory of variation, as wel as her wilingnes to apply the theory in future.  (A20) Amy: …I fel encouraged to know that it [the screening of the video] worked for my students …last year when I taught my Sec. 4s, I showed them a video as wel. But I only showed them once. And in that sense, I can actualy fel that my kids this year were able to understand the proceses beter, by using this method. So I wil stil redo it…     The use of student post-leson test results and interviews to ascertain the impact of the research lesons on students’ learning also served as a form of fedback that Amy could draw on – both to reflect on her own teaching practices as wel as to evaluate student learning (described in her reflective entry, se also excerpt A21). In doing so, she drew support for the use of various pedagogical strategies that she was employing. In addition, the analysis alowed identification of areas and gaps in learning that warranted further atention and clarification. For example, having identified that some students stil had dificulty relating the proces of gene mutation to gene expresion, Amy re-visited that part of the leson (excerpt A22).  (A21) Interviewer: Okay. Shal we move on to the analysis of the post-leson tests and interviews? You said that it gave you the opportunity to understand what worked for your students during the lesons. Could you share an example of something you thought “worked”? Amy: …the main thing that I pulled out was the video [that she screened three times] for most of them. So yeah, that was what I was thinking of here.           143 (A22) Interviewer: Okay. So how about the aspect that you taught was stil unclear [comment from reflective entry], and then you went on to clarify it? So can you elaborate a litle bit about what you did, and what were the aspects? Amy: I think it was the mutation and pulling it back to transcription and translation when there was gene mutation. So I went back to clas and I deliberately asked them then, “Once you get this mutation, what happens at that level?” – which as something that I didn’t cover. Yeah.   The demonstration of shifts in what Amy considered valuable to the benefit of student learning ilustrates how her experiences in the learning study have promoted her profesional learning. They were evident in how Amy subsequently viewed and approached the prescribed curriculum diferently. Amy was asked to review the Genetics Questionnaire that was completed at the beginning of the study, and to comment on how her views have shifted, were chalenged or were supported by her experiences in the learning study. One of the points highlighted was how she has learnt to be clearer in terms of her leson focus, having “narrowed what was esential” (excerpt 23), as opposed to trying to cover everything. The clarity was appreciated to have enhanced student learning. As a result, the view of presenting a lot of facts as important also became les important. (A23) Amy: I think previously I would try to give them like a very comprehensive coverage of the entire topic because I was just very afraid that there are certain things that I wil... you know, that might be lacking. But I think that after this round where we narrowed what was esential, so we didn’t cover like the specifics of your transcription and translation and knowledge of al that. And in the end the girls are able to understand the proces beter. So…I don’t think this idea of presenting a lot of facts is as important now… [emphasis mine]   Another demonstrated shift in what Amy considered valuable to the benefit of student learning pertained to Amy’s former use of games - as a way to make her lesons enjoyable and interesting, even if it resulted in les learning (excerpt A2). The excerpt below is demonstrative of her emerging conception of how games could be used to engage students and stil yield a          144 considerable amount of desirable learning. This prompted her to likewise learn to use games in a similar manner.  (A24) Interviewer: You also mentioned about being able to pick up certain good skils from your colleagues that you hope to master in time. So could you elaborate on some of these good skils? Amy: …I like his [Chris’] “Scrabble” game also …usualy for me, whenever I design or prepare games for my clas, it was more of like, something more entertaining – higher entertainment value. I mean there’s stil learning. But if you were to put like a percentage it would be like 60-40 kind of thing. Chris’ one was more… like there was a realy great emphasis on what needs to be learnt…that was something that I believe I found very useful.    Amy’s participation in the learning study has also resulted in her learning to be more open to her colleagues’ comments and sharing about her lesons. She expresed how her experience of collaborative leson observations and post-leson conferences has actualy alowed her to “gain quite a lot” (excerpt A25). This led to a realization that despite being a les experienced teacher, that “every person in the department can play a part” in influencing each other’s pedagogy. Thus, Amy’s ideas around the nature of collaboration and collegiality semed to have shifted. Equaly noteworthy was how the leson observations organized within a learning study alowed teachers to escape the sense of critiquing the individual teacher (Stigler and Hiebert, 1999). Similar to leson studies, the collaborative leson planning resulted in a joint product whose ownership was shared by al members in the team, alowing for inquiry and critique of lesons to focus more pointedly and deeply on the merits and deficiencies of the leson; on revisions and improvements (Stigler and Hiebert, 1999). (A25) Amy: I think like… I think because I’m stil like fairly new, so to me, like observation and al that sounds very daunting. And so when I first heard that, okay, you were going to come in and al that, it felt very scary for me. But now that I’ve gone through one round, it’s not that bad. And I realized that I can actualy gain quite a lot from an experience like this. So yeah, I fel like I’ve learnt to be a litle bit more open. Sharing about my lesons… I’m just like a beginner… in terms of teaching wise, I don’t think I have a lot to share, as compared to someone who is more experienced. Yeah. But          145 this experience has showed that there is stil some litle bits that you can pick up from one another, even though I’m not the most experienced person and al. Interviewer: So do you se yourself as being a contributor, then, to the experiences of your colleagues and helping them to, you know, to learn more about their own pedagogy as wel? Amy: I think it’s something that every person in the department can play a part, yeah… [emphasis mine]   4.3.3 Amy’s learning about her own pedagogy  With respects to how participation in the learning study has influenced Amy’s learning about her own pedagogy, the experiences that semed to constantly come to the fore of Amy’s awarenes were, namely, the opportunities to: (1) collaboratively determine the curricular flow and to plan the leson. Coupled with the opportunity for Amy to observe her colleague’s lesons, it alowed for an experience of increased clarity and coherence in her approach to curriculum interpretation. The clarity and coherence has also alowed her to focus clearly on what the team collectively deemed as important for student learning, as opposed to the conventional heavy reliance on prescribed materials. This has alowed her to fel more empowered to plan a “smoother flow” when she was preparing her lesons, and to enact her lesons in a more authentic way. Coupled with the paterns of variation and invariance that she has employed, which were ascertained by her colleagues and the post-leson test results to be efective, Amy felt that she has learnt to be more explicit in planning and enacting the teaching aspects that she deemed important. (2) elicit students’ prior understandings through the administration of pre-leson tests, which influenced how she deliberately addresed students’ problematic conceptions and areas of confusion. Concurrently, using the theory of variation as a guide, she established common ground with the students. Thus, she deemed the opportunity to learn how to          146 systematicaly collect, analyze and apply student data as useful in informing and improving her own teaching practice. (3) deliberately employ theory of variation to guide the enactment of her lesons, and to experience diferent ways in which theory of variation was employed in her colleagues’ lesons. Amy found that the deliberate application of the theory provided structure for her lesons, guiding the organization of her PowerPoint slides. It has also helped her focus on the object of student learning and critical aspects through the paterns of variation enacted. These experiences deepened her conviction that theory of variation was useful in helping students focus on the critical aspects that she wanted them to, and she thus deemed the gaining of a clearer understanding of how to use the theory as a valued experience.   (4) inquire into her own teaching practices and that of her colleagues’. The former has alowed her to receive fedback from her colleagues (through post-leson conferences) and students (through post-leson test and interviews) as to what constituted good teaching practices. The areas in her teaching that could be improved were also brought to her atention. These afected how she viewed herself to have learnt to be more open to others’ comments about her lesons at the end of the study. The opportunities for her to inquire into colleagues’ teaching practices have also alowed for an increased awarenes of how she could likewise apply various pedagogical strategies in her own clas. Her experiences resulted in her feling that she has picked up certain good skils from her colleagues as a way to improve her own pedagogy. They have also provided direction for her future profesional development.  (5) encounter her own beliefs and teaching practices through reflection and participation in the learning study. Demonstrated shifts in what she would deem to benefit students’          147 learning occurred. Examples include her view that games should yield more learning; that what is more important for student learning is that students gain an understanding of the object of student learning and critical aspects, as opposed to the mere coverage of al content stipulated in the prescribed curriculum.   4.4 Pam’s experience of the learning study  Pam was also regarded as one of the les experienced teacher in the team, having joined the school around the same time as Amy. It was her third year teaching Grade 9-10 biology, and this was the first time she was teaching the newly prescribed curriculum.  4.4.1 Pam’s understandings of her own teaching and learning practices before participating in the learning study  Pam’s primary goals in teaching biology included inculcating and sustaining students’ interest in biology, as wel as helping them se the relevance of biology in everyday life (excerpt P1). She believed that these would eventualy help students to remember what was learnt. Thus, to engage students’ interest, she would even teach what was beyond the prescribed curriculum. The desire to generate interest for her students, in order that they may be further motivated to learn on their own, also propeled Pam to “stay in touch with current knowledge” (excerpt P2). In doing so, Pam was also able to utilize relevant examples and case studies in her teaching.  (P1) Pam: … I normaly go beyond [what is stipulated in the syllabus] …I try to bring them to (like) more relevant examples of (like), um, yeah, how they can relate to them. And for me, I fel like the main thing in teaching is (that) you really need to generate their interest. So that’s always (like) the primary concern… I think the main thing that always comes to mind is how I can make it interesting… [emphasis mine]   (P2) Pam: I think you also need to want to look beyond the textbook sometimes - it’s so easy to tailor your (your) lesons to specific syllabus… But I read  (like) “Science Daily”, and you know, litle bits of information, and  (like) case studies that I can just          148 give to the girls. So I think the constant need to want to stay in touch with the current knowledge is important… To generate the interest for them to read up on their own.    Believing that pedagogy is a tool to help deliver content in a way that would develop student interest, Pam often varied her pedagogy (excerpt P3 & P4), and would even elicit fedback from her students about her own teaching. (P3) Interviewer: So how would you se the relationship betwen content, pedagogy, and your objective to teaching biology? Pam: I think my (I think my)… The content, definitely, as our job as biology teachers, is what we have to deliver. I think the overriding idea is how I can deliver the content in a manner that interests them, so that’s where the pedagogy comes in. Yeah.    (P4) Interviewer: So why do you want to vary your pedagogy? Pam: Because I think that… I mean like I’ve said, sustaining interest is very important… I do (I do) my fair share of “teacher-talk”. I think most of us have to do some teacher talk. But you know, I don’t like them to  “zone-out”. So I try and (I try and) ases… in fact, I (I like) realy try my best through every half-year, get them to write down what they fel were good about the (the) lesons, what you think that you can improve.    Pam’s goal of generating students’ interest and to increase their perception of the relevance of biology can be appreciated as ways in which she tried to establish connection with her students. Deming it important to “relate to your target audience” (excerpt P5), the choice of games and media, such as videos and movies, were thoughtfully included in her repertoire of pedagogical strategies. Pam also atended to diferent student learning styles – “visual-kinesthetic” or  “audio” (excerpt P6).  (P5) Pam: I mean, we watched movies – current blockbusters of interest, and we se how a lot of the science can be found through it… I find (like) you need to relate to your target audience. Use a media that kind of appeals to them…  (P6) Interviewer: …why is it important to be able to connect with your target audience? Pam: Because only then would you be truly able to teach… a lot of them are “visual-kinesthetic” people, which is why I came up with the idea that they write while they teach; um (I mean) they write while they look… Some of them are “audio” [auditory          149 learners], so I alow them not to be copying notes, and I won’t take it as they are not listening… So, I try to work to the way that they learn, in that sense, yeah.    Pam was also commited to forming connections with her students, by deliberately forming links with their interests and prior knowledge. For Pam, student prior knowledge was often regarded as what has been taught previously. Consequently, the establishment of links and seing similar paterns within diferent topics was an important aspect for her teaching, since this was analogous to helping students form connections betwen what was learnt and their own prior knowledge. For example, Pam would deliberately link the chapter of digestion to that of excretion (excerpt P7). In the same way, Pam would employ questions to draw out students’ prior knowledge and in doing so, that students could connect their learning with prior knowledge for themselves (excerpt P8). Pam was also disposed to encouraging students to ask questions, believing that it was a form of dialogue that alowed students to pursue topics that interest them (excerpt P9).  (P7) Pam: … So once I get their interest and things like that, I’ll always bring it back to (like) prior knowledge. Like for instance… I teach (like) excretion I’ll talk about how one of the excretory waster product is bile pigments. So I’ll relate it to (like) how the bile is linked to… like one of the excretory organs, which is the liver, and how it’s related to digestion. So I’ll bring it back to digestion. And I’ll teach them about (like) “Remember how the liver produces bile?” And that’s um…. “so we have this thing - the breaking down of the red blood cels that produce(s) the bile pigments; and that helps the formation of bile” and things like that. So I’ll always bring it back to prior knowledge. Yeah. [emphasis mine]  (P8) Pam: As in, do I draw out the knowledge from them instead of teling them about it? Yeah, I do that sometimes. (So) I mean, it’s by questioning, like simple questions in the introduction… Interviewer: So the “drawing of the answers”, the sole intent is to…? Pam: Drawing of the answers for their prior knowledge…? It’s just to make them make the link.   (P9) Pam: …You need to alow them to question a lot, I find… So it’s to alow them constant questioning; to not be afraid of questioning, because there is a lot of things          150 about themselves and their environment that they are very intrigued about… I let them question a lot. It’s a constant dialogue… Interviewer: So why do you think it’s important to let them ask questions and to maintain that dialogue? Pam: Because I don’t want them to be pasive learners where they (realy) just sit there and listen to me.     What is ilustrated in this section were, in fact, Pam’s beliefs around the importance of students taking ownership of their own learning, and thus her goals of inculcating students’ interests and the establishment of relevance of learning biology. These goals shaped Pam’s atempts to ster her pedagogy away from teacher-centered approaches and towards more student-centered ones, and her establishment of connections with her students. In the proces, students were encouraged to move away from being pasive learners, whereby they “just sit there and listen” (excerpt P9), to becoming active learners whereby they can “draw paralels”; “se the relevance”; apply their understandings; and “ask questions” (excerpt P10). And in this way, students can engage in “active learning”. (P10) Interviewer: So how would you define active learning? Pam: I think it’s about taking ownership of your own learning… It’s about from that information that you get, how you can draw paralels; how you can se the relevance in it… if I get al the information being planted into my head, but I don’t know how to (to) use it, then it becomes realy pasive, like I’m forced to remember this. But if I have information that is given to me, and I ask questions, which alow me to further draw paralels on my own, then that’s active learning.      4.4.2 How participation in the learning study influenced Pam’s pedagogy and experiences of learning as a form of profesional development As similar to Chris and Amy, Pam deemed the opportunity for collaboration as instrumental to her own profesional learning. When asked to share about her experiences, Pam mentioned about how the collaborative determination of the curricular flow helped her to          151 approach the curriculum with greater clarity and coherence. Especialy since this was the first time she was teaching this new topic of genetics, and since the prescribed curriculum was deemed to be vague, she found it particularly useful to “sing a common tune” (excerpt 11) and to “find out where the focus would be” (excerpt 12). The experiences in the learning study thus difered from her past ones, whereby curriculum interpretation was previously relegated to her own interpretation and heavy reliance on prescribed curricular materials, with les clarity on the scope and depth to be covered. In the same vein, Pam mentioned about how she would have conventionaly posited a diferent focus, mising out certain emphasis (such as the establishment of structural and functional aspects, thus including the topic of mutation), while covering other parts (such as the genetic proceses) in more detail than was necesary.  (P11) Pam: It’s [collaborative determination of curricular flow] definitely helpful because I haven’t done it before… it’s always good to sing like a common tune, I gues, in a way. Yeah. It definitely is helpful, if not when I look at this topic, it’s I mean my own interpretation.   (P12) Pam: … I think for us it’s what we interpreted from, let’s say, the general syllabus that was given to us. How much emphasis was put into the diferent topics was actually… we didn’t know... So I gues, in a way, through this [determination of curricular flow], you can actualy find out where the focus would be. I mean, if I were teaching this without knowing what I should focus on and things like that, it wil be mainly about the proceses – like for me, the transcription, the translation. Perhaps not so much atention wil be put onto the mutation, and you know, the certain parts, which was actualy deliberately pointed out that we should do this. [emphasis mine]  Pam also highlighted (in her reflective entry) how the determination of the curricular flow resulted in her being “beter able to draw students atention to various parts” and “guide them to draw links for themselves so they understand beter”. This was consistent with her belief that it was important for students to draw links betwen diferent topic areas. Thus, Pam particularly valued the opportunities within the learning study for discussion of these links.            152 The observation of her colleagues’ lesons, and participation in the post-leson conferences thereafter, also granted Pam greater clarity for the emphasis of her lesons. For example, having realized that some students struggled to draw links betwen biophysical genetic entities (in Amy’s lesons), and betwen mutation and the transcription and translation proceses, Pam deliberately stresed on these links in her own research lesons (excerpt P13).  (P13) Interviewer: So you’ve talked about how the post-leson metings were important for you to review your lesons, in order to be able to teach beter. So could you give me an example of one of the reviews that actualy impacted the way that you taught? Pam: Okay, I mean… just let’s say about… for Amy’s one, I mean when she was doing the game, the “Incredibles” game thing, and then you know like she reviewed it… we realized that they were seing it as discrete things, not drawing links together and things like that…Maybe about when they did mutation they didn’t link it to transcription and translation - I think that was what you told me to focus on... So in a way, that helped me to sort of realy do my own flow chart for the girls - how your DNA eventualy leads to your particular phenotype, and how it’s actualy what we cal gene expresion…   What is also worth noting was that Pam, like Amy, valued the opportunities to observe both an experienced teacher’s leson (Chris’) as wel as that of her peer’s (Amy’s). As compared to how the convention was for more experienced teachers to observe les experienced teachers in order to evaluate their teaching, the learning study has thus aforded a diferent kind of leson observation experience, whereby (1) teacher asesment was not the focal point, and (2) opportunities to sit into colleagues’ lesons were aforded irrespective of seniority.  (P14) Pam: …I mean we al know how much we can benefit by siting into somebody as experienced as Kate, or say like Chris… you sit into their lesons, you learn new things. We never had the opportunity to do it [previously], because it’s usualy like the more senior teachers observing you, not like you going in to observe anybody’s leson. So in a way, I gues this time, it was kind of turned around, so you get to actualy se people like me and Amy…    The collaborative inquiry and evaluation of colleagues’ and Pam’s own research lesons have in fact alowed for Pam to reflect on her own pedagogy. It also alowed for the “widening          153 of the perspectives”- both in the ways in which the prescribed curriculum was interpreted and how it was taught (excerpt P15). In other words, the experience of variation in curriculum interpretation and enactment widened the space of learning, and alowed for the expansion of the individual teacher’s own repertoire of pedagogical strategies. It has also alowed Pam to deliver lesons that were more consistent with her beliefs of what good biology teaching was (excerpt P16).  (P15) Pam: The collaboration part. I mean what was good about this study was the collaboration; widening of the perspectives in terms of the ways in which this topic is taught; or the way that the syllabus is interpreted by diferent teachers. That, I mean, is much like profesional sharing. Yeah.  (P16) Interviewer: So what aspects of this learning study and your participation has helped you to actualy deliver what you think good biology teaching is? Pam: … the main thing that helped me, I fel, was the perspectives of the diferent teachers, which can bring a lot more dimensions to the teaching. For instance, the analogy one – Chris brought up about the book… I always knew that like you can use analogies, and I use it a lot, but verbaly. But I think it’s quite good to look at scales and the structure. So from the perspectives of the teachers you can come up with activities…  Acording to Pam, the diferent perspectives of the teachers brought varied dimensions to the teaching experience, thus creating opportunities to learn “many new ways to vary teaching style” (mentioned in her reflective entry). In elaborating on this point, she described the opportunity she has had to observe how Chris enacted the “Scrabble” game. In contrast to how Chris only revealed the student learning outcomes at the end of the activity, she would typicaly have explained the rationale and learning points prior to the activity. The perceived efectivenes of Chris’ strategy, as revealed through students’ post-leson test and interviews, persuaded Pam to try Chris’ pedagogical strategy. Similarly, Pam also highlighted how she deemed Chris’ use of analogies to be efective for student learning. In her own research leson, Pam modified the “analogy” activity to help students represent the relationships betwen structural aspects of genetic materials – to look at “scales and the structure” (excerpt P21).           154 Another key experience highlighted by Pam was how her pedagogy was influenced by Chris’ use of questions (excerpt P17). Pam arrived at a realization that some of her students, like that of Chris, may be auditory learners that would benefit from Chris’ teaching style. Moving away from how she usualy taught by drawing from her own learning experiences as a student, her new insights resulted in her resolution to vary and expand her own pedagogical skils in order to further benefit the auditory learners in her clas.  (P17) Pam: …what I’m teaching them is purely what I learnt… what I’m imposing, sort of, on my student is kind of my learning style when I approached this chapter… formerly, I wouldn’t use this kind of questioning so much, because I’m not audio [that is, not an auditory learner]. And you know, but I realize that some of my girls might also be audio. So as much as I keep using al my flow charts and things like that… they might want to hear things. …it kind of amazed me to se how Chris’ girls can actualy listen …in ways that even I cannot, because I’m not audio. But the fact that there are some girls [in Chris’ clas] at that level who can do that, wil probably mean that there are some of my girls who can do that. So, yeah, I gues to vary [my pedagogy] sometimes…    Throughout the learning study, Pam was also constantly focused on identifying and addresing students’ misconceptions (a term Pam used to describe students’ conceptions that may be inconsistent with the canonical science). She appreciated the ample opportunities within the learning study to focus on students’ learning. For example, the collective determination of the object of learning alowed for students’ gaps in understandings to come to the fore of teachers’ atention, even as teaching experiences to addres them were pooled and examined. At diferent points in the learning study, the team also drew from research literature that focused on students’ prior experiences and knowledge of genetics.   The administration and analysis of students’ pre-leson test and interviews were also experienced diferently - as an important and more systematic way to inquire into students’ understandings and experiences, and thus alowed for clearer understandings of students’          155 misconceptions to emerge (excerpt P18). Acording to Pam, the clarity was further brought about through observation of colleagues’ lesons. In comparison, identification of students’ misconceptions used to rely on teacher’s “head knowledge” (excerpt P19), or the use of “simple questions” (excerpt P8) in clas.   (P18) Pam: I mean last time we use to do this [uncovering of students’ prior experiences and understandings] subconsciously. You wouldn’t, let’s say, have a pre-test, post-test, and find out a certain percentage of people who say has a certain misconception... it’s probably verbal... So in a way, I gues through this study… you have a clearer understanding of what are some of their misconceptions. Yeah, it’s a more (like) structured kind of question and answer…   (P19) Interviewer: … How did your own experience in this learning study impact the way that you learn about your own pedagogy? Pam: I think for one, I gues in a way, it’s a making it more deliberate and structured in the way that I’m teaching. Previously… it’s a lot of head knowledge – you are not so deliberate about it. But your intention is always the same – to learn about somebody’s misconceptions, addres them, alow them to addres them on their own… But I gues in a way through this study, you (you) learn about the efectivenes – for me, it’s like doing this but in a more deliberate sense. Yeah. [emphasis mine]   As ilustrated above (excerpt P19), opportunities to gain greater insights into students’ prior knowledge has propeled Pam to more deliberately addres students’ misconceptions, thus influencing her pedagogy. The confirmation of her prior views on students’ learning dificulties in genetics, such as the dificulty to move betwen the diferent levels in which the structural aspects of genetics can be understood, contributed to how the team collectively decided that it was pertinent to systematicaly vary the diferent levels to benefit students’ learning- “break it down to molecular level; the chromosomal level, kind of thing”. (excerpt P20). Similarly, the anticipation (“pre-empting”) and drawing from students’ misconceptions (excerpt P21) alowed Pam to formulate and beter scafold her questions. The former alowed an expansion of her repertoire of questions (excerpt P22), and the later, to further hone her questioning skils. What          156 is noteworthy was that some of the questions from the student pre-leson test were also adapted for use in her other clases. (P20) Pam: I mean the.. the.. confusion of genetics in terms of the diferent scales was definitely quite true. If we didn’t like exactly break it down to the molecular level; the chromosomal level, kind of thing, they won’t be able to se it that clearly… and from previous years, the misconception was that they keep jumping the scales. And I think when we did the pre-test, we had the “rearrange…” - the order one, which kind of showed that even though they learnt it in Sec. 1 and 2, they are stil very confused…    (P21) Pam: …from the studies from these particular girls [pre-leson test and interviews], you can actualy se where it’s actualy leading to. So it’s kind of like preempting you to their misconceptions and things like that. Yeah…   (P22) Pam: …looking at the diferent surveys that you have… like you have created, in a way is like more structured questioning, which helped me in my questioning during clas… it was more like, perhaps, using the misconceptions that were learnt from the study [pre-leson test], how I would then scafold my own questioning…    Pam’s experience of systematicaly uncovering students’ prior knowledge has also resulted in more deliberate atempts to highlight students’ problematic conceptions. She also deliberately created opportunities for students to encounter and change their own conceptions, and subsequently to “reflect on what they used to think, what they now know, and how that has changed” (excerpt P23). In this way, her pedagogical practices shared similar goals with the conceptual change model (Posner et al., 1982). They were also consistent with Pam’s beliefs about the importance of establishing links with students’ prior knowledge, and were compatible with her previous atempts to employ more student-centered approaches and to encourage active learning.   What is ilustrated was how the constant focus on students’ learning throughout the learning study has resulted in authentic leson planning. This served to deepen Pam’s experience of enacting more student-centered lesons (as were desired), and hence reflects a move towards          157 a greater sense of ownership and teacher empowerment. Pam’s experiences have thus resulted in a reinforcing and refining what she deemed good biology teaching to be - that it is a two-way proces whereby students’ conceptions are drawn to scafold and benefit students’ learning (excerpt P24).   (P23) Pam: I think it’s powerful when you actualy repeat their [students’] misconceptions to them, and… from there help them to se how it was wrong…they may have a lot of misconceptions and you may teach them the right thing, but if you don’t point out what were their misconceptions, they may not even know that that was it. So I gues in a way, it’s to help them also like reflect on what they used to think, what they now know, and how that has changed. [emphasis mine]  (P24) Interviewer: How did your experience in the learning study further refined what you think good biology teaching is?   Pam: I think it has to be a two-way proces and the learning study is... in a way, it’s like drawing on student’s misconceptions, using it to help them scafold their learning… That means like it’s not one way, like what I think you should learn, but it’s like you… you ask them exactly what their thoughts are about it, quite purposefully. And then you schedule it around it, so that they se it beter. Yeah    The employment of theory of variation as a theoretical framework has also enriched Pam’s experience of enacting students’ learning experiences in her research lesons. Descriptions of Pam’s lesons are provided below to ilustrate how theory of variation influenced Pam’s pedagogy. They also demonstrate how Pam has more deliberately addresed students’ problematic conceptions and gaps in understandings.   Research Leson 1: Introduction to genetic biophysical entities (3 periods, 90minutes) Pam implemented the research leson in a higher ability clas within the schol, comprising 29 girls. In this leson, Pam constantly tried to draw from students’ prior knowledge through the use of guiding questions. These questions were modified from the student pre-leson test administered. In engaging students in class discusions, Pam created oportunities for students to encounter and reflect on their own conceptions, and have them changed if they were inconsistent with the canonical science of          158 genetics. Within this leson, Pam systematicaly varied the levels in which genetic materials could be understood, while keeping the notion of genetic materials invariant. Another patern of variation employed was the shift between the structural and functional aspects of the genetic entities. This served as a precursor to her subsequent lessons that focused on the functional aspects of genes. To conclude the leson, Pam used an “analogy” activity to allow for structural relationships of genetic materials to come to the fore of students’ focal awarenes.   Pam started the leson by showing students the learning points from the prescribed curiculum, and highlighted the areas that they were introduced to in lower grade levels. Focusing on the structural aspects of genetic materials, students were given some time to discus with their partners what they knew about chromosomes. The folowing questions were used as a guide: 1. What is chromosome made of? 2. Why do we ned chromosomes? 3. What organisms have chromosomes? 4. How many chromosomes does a human cel have? 5. Are there diferent types of chromosomes? Engaging students in a clas discussion, students voluntered their answers. Students’ answers were subsequently jotted on the whiteboard, and were layered with more details. This part of the leson served to draw out students’ prior knowledge and to link them to new information related to the structural aspects of genetic materials. Students were then shown a PowerPoint slide of the karyotype of humans, and the concept of karyotypes was discused. Pam also proceded to clarify the “x”-shape that was often observed in diagrams, in order to adres the confusion betwen duplicated and non-duplicated chromosomes – as was elucidated in the student pre-leson test.  Shifting the focus to the DNA level, students were then asked to discus with their partners the folowing questions: 1. What is it (DNA) made of? 2. What is its purpose? 3. Why does it coil in a specific maner? The answers were likewise joted on the whiteboard and discused. Students related the function of DNA to traits (as was comonly reported in literature and revealed in the pre-leson test). Students also mentioned about genes. Pam helped students to link the two answers by briefly bringing in          159 the proceses of transcription and translation into the clas discusion. The coiling of DNA around histones was then focused on. Subsequently, the students were shown a video that focused on the structure of DNA - animating the coiling of DNA to form chromosomes. Pam would make comments as the video was screned, as a way to reiterate what was discused in clas. The video also illustrated how DNA contains information in the form of bases. Pam proceded to use a PowerPoint slide presentation to help students to include the nucleotide level into their focal awarenes, by looking at how the nucleotides were aranged within the double helix DNA – with the emphasi also on the genetic information that existed in the sequence of nucleotides on each strand of DNA. This thus linked the structural aspects of genetic materials to the functional aspects. The idea of complementary base pairing was also introduced. Focusing next on the coiling of DNA, how DNA coils to from chromosomes was discused in detail. As a way to reiterate the key points to this part of the leson, Pam proceded to scren the same video on the structure of DNA again. Pam concluded this part of the lesson by introducing to students the human genome project.  Shifting students’ atention to the gene level, students were to, once again, engage their partners in a discusion around the following questions: 1. Where is a gene found? 2. What is a gene made of? 3. How many genes do humans have? 4. What is the purpose of a gene? Subsequent to a clas discussion, Pam introduced the concepts of coding and non-coding sequences, and that diferent genes code for diferent proteins. Thus, students were again given opportunities to link the structural and functional aspects of genes. Pam proceeded to ask students a series of questions that revealed gaps in students’ understandings – gaps that wer surfaced in the pre-leson test and discused during the collaborative meetings. For example, “Do al cels in a person have the same DNA? Do al cels have the same genes? Why do cels difer in function?” Engaging students in a clas discusion, students were guided to uncover their own “misconceptions”. In this way, Pam was able to directly addres students’ problematic conceptions that were revealed in the pre-leson tests. To conclude the leson, students were then shown a video that sumarized what genes, DNA and chromosomes are - focusing on both the structural and          160 functional aspects of these biophysical entities, and the relationships betwen them. Students were also assigned homework. In groups of four, students were to come up with analogies that would represent the terms bases/nucleotides, genes, DNA, chromosomes, nucleus, cells, organism. Each group was tasked to come up with one analogy based on the notion of boks, pages, sentences, etc., and another one of their own.  Research Leson 2: Functional aspects of genes: transcription and translation (2 periods, 60minutes)  The second leson was implemented a wek after the first one. In this leson, Pam focused on the functional aspects of genes - on the proceses of transcription and translation. In the leson, videos were used alongside PowerPoint presentations - as consitent with her belief that the use of videos aids to beter connect with students. Together with the use of the whiteboard, Pam also varied the modes of representation to ilustrate the key steps in transcription and translation. Not only did the diferent modes of representation serve as a way to vary students’ approaches to the genetic processes, but it has also served to scafold the details of the processes, progressively requiring students to hold more details in their focal awarenes. As consistent with the last leson, Pam was also focused on identifying and addressing students’ conceptions. She actively drew from students’ prior knowledge, through her questioning and engagement of students in clas discussion. Students’ prior knowledge was used to quickly establish common ground, and to scafold the new genetic content that students needed to learn.  Pam started of the leson with students presenting their analogies to represent the terms bases/nucleotides, genes, DNA, chromosomes, nucleus, cels, organism (homework from previous leson). For each presentation, fedback was provided. Pam also highlighted to her students the paterns that have emerged from their analogies, based on the notion that repeating units can similarly be observed in the structure of genetic materials. She then proceded to show some other examples to illustrate potential student “misconceptions”. Using the book analogy to reiterate the structural          161 relationships betwen the genetic biophysical entities, Pam also extended the use of the analogy to illustrate the functional relationships - as was sugested in the post-leson conference preceding this research leson. This alowed for students’ focal awarenes to simultaneously include the structural and functional relationships of genetic materials.  In the next part of the leson, the roles of genes in the determination of traits were explored. Using the whiteboard, Pam engaged students in a discusion – a co-construction of a flowchart to briefly show the sequence of events in gene expression and determination of traits. Students were told that the leson would focus in detail on the proceses that result in protein synthesis. Using the flowchart, details of the proceses of transcription and translation were then included, even as Pam drew out students’ prior knowledge of these proceses through the use of questions. Using a PowerPoint presentation, the key steps were reiterated. The slides were also layered with details that were new to the students.  In order to depen students’ understanding of transcription and translation, their atention was then shifted to the nucleotide level. The notion of codons; how codons code for specific amino acids; mRNA formation; and the formation of polypeptides and proteins were introduced. Serving to consolidate the key learning points, a video was then shown. But because the speakers were not working, the audio part of the clip was omitted. This resulted in Pam verbally explaining what was sen in the video while it was being played. Subsequently, students were given the key terms that related to various parts of the genetic molecular processes. Based on their prior knowledge and what they have seen, they were asked to provide more details of the proceses. Pam also furnished students’ answers with even more details of the proceses. Using a flowchart, the transcription and translation proceses were also represented. The students were also subsequently shown a second video that similarly ilustrated the transcription and translation proceses. As such, the animations in which the molecular proceses were illustrated were varied. Terms that students have just ben introduced to in greater detail were also deliberately mentioned as the video was viewed, that is, explanations with more genetic-specific          162 terminologies were used. Because students also asked questions during the viewing of the video clip, opportunities for clarification of students’ conceptions arose. Subsequent to the video shown and as a way to conclude the leson, Pam proceded to diagramaticaly represent and explain the diferent steps presented in the video on the whiteboard.  Research Leson 3: Relating the structural and functional aspects of genes: transcription, translation and mutation (3 periods, 90minutes) The third leson was implemented a wek after the second one. In this leson, Pam continued to make use of diferent modes of presentation to help students learn the proceses of transcription and translation – as was reviewed in the post-leson conference as being beneficial for students’ learning. In this leson, Pam also employed a pattern of variation that required the systematic variation of nucleotide sequences, thus relating transcription and translation to the genetic phenomenon of mutation. Pam also varied the types of mutations. In addition, and as observed in previous lesons, Pam also deliberately addresed students’ problematic conceptions.  At the start of the leson, students were given a list of key terms relating to the proceses of transcription and translation. A simple flowchart was then constructed on the whiteboard to stimulate recal of the steps in the processes. Students were also shown the same video that was viewed in the last leson. In reiterating the steps, Pam drew another diagram (with more details) to represent the proceses of transcription and translation. During the construction of the diagram, students were asked questions to elicit their prior knowledge. Inferences were occasionally drawn to the video as well.  In the next part of the leson, students “played” an online game. Students were required to 1. unzip the DNA, 2. make a copy of the gene through the production of mRNA, 3. match the sequence of the mRNA with the corect tRNA, and in the proces, 4. to determine the amino acid sequence that formed the polypeptide. The game thus provided variation as to how the proces of transcription and          163 translation could be experienced by the students. Drawing on the same steps and principles of the game, students were provided with more examples that they neded to, likewise, determine the coresponding mRNA and amino acid sequences.  Using the notion of traits, students’ focus was then shifted to the formation of proteins. Through the use of a flowchart, the proces of protein synthesis and the determination of traits were explored. As a precursor to the enactment of the pattern of variation and invariance determined colectively by the group, that is, to vary the nucleotide sequence or gene structure, Pam deliberately mentioned that a change in gene structure would change the mRNA produced, and hence the proteins formed. Consequently, the traits wil be afected. A PowerPoint slide presntaion that reiterated the same learning points was then shown.   Shifting students’ atention to changes in nucleotide sequence, students were given time to discuss in pairs what they thought would happen when there is an eror in the genetic code. Subsequently, using an online game - “name” activity, the paralels betwen proteins formed and that of names were made. Each leter of a name would represent a specific amino acid making up a gene sequence. When a student’s name was typed in, the computer program would then provide the coresponding nucleotide sequence. Using the game, various types of mutations can be selected, for example, nucleotide deletion. The program would then show the effects of the mutation. The changes in the nucleotide sequence as well as amino acids, afecting the changes to the name, were illustrated. Pam then used the resultant changes to explain what hapens when nucleotide deletion ocurs. Using other examples, such as nucleotide insertion and nucleotide substitution, the proces of mutation was again illustrated. The pattern of variation employed here also extended to the illustration of “silent mutation” – that changes in the sequence in nucleotide ned not always necesarily result in changes in the proteins. Students were thus given oportunities to experience variation in nucleotide sequences, as wel as the diferent types of mutations. The diferent gene mutations ilustrated in the game were also highlighted          164 and explained through the use of a PowerPoint presentation. Using the mutation examples, students were instructed to write out the sequences of the coresponding mRNA and polypeptide chain produced in transcription and translation respectively. This was the homework that students were required to complete. Using another diagram, Pam reiterated the key changes that occured subsequent to changes in nucleotide sequences. Pam also stresed to the students that the common “misconception” was that students often focused on traits (efect of mutation) rather than the proces of mutation itself (changes in gene sequences).  Focusing on the case study of sickle cel anemia to further demonstrate gene mutation, students were then systematicaly shown what hapened at the gene level (focus on the products formed in transcription), and subsequently the efects at the protein level (focus on the products formed in translation). Students were also shown the efects of the mutation at the cellular level. Extending to the chapter on hereditary, Pam also briefly introduced the diferences betwen someone with the sickle cel disease, and someone who is a sickle cel carier. Pam proceded to briefly introduce another type of mutation – Down syndrome. To conclude the leson, students were given a workshet (homework) containing a diagram that ilustrated the transcription and translation processes. Students were instructed to jot notes coresponding to what they have observed in the diagram. The answers were to be discused in the next lesson.  As ilustrated in the descriptions above, the employment of theory of variation has enriched Pam’s enactment of teaching the genetics lesons in ways to benefit students’ learning. The theory has provided structure for the enactment of Pam’s lesons, helping Pam to focus on the important points (critical aspects) that could be highlighted through the enactment of paterns of variation and invariance. The inclusion of mutation as part of the paterns of variation and invariance to be employed was in fact consistent with her belief that good biology          165 teaching includes the inclusion of real-life phenomena, that would subsequently encourage students to se the relevance of what they are learning (“making it real” – excerpt P25).  (P25) Pam: I think, first of al, “making it real” is very important. So if we talk about the part about transcription and translation… and we brought in mutation then, I thought that was like helping them se what would happen if, you know, things go wrong. And that wil help them build up their (their) ideas about transcription and translation. Yeah. [emphasis mine]   What is noteworthy was that Pam’s experience of applying theory of variation to guide the enactment of her lesons was diferent from that of Chris’. Pam’s main focus was not on the employment of paterns of variation as a way to draw students’ atention to the critical aspects of the object of student learning (unlike that of Chris). But rather, what came to the fore constantly for Pam was the goal of explicitly addresing students’ problematic conceptions and gaps in understanding. Nonetheles, the collective decisions made during the metings (“principles that were picked up” – excerpt P26) influenced her pedagogy. For example, the critical aspects of the object of student learning and paterns of variation to be employed alowed Pam to clearly derive the main points of her lesons; to beter organize her lesons (including the “pauses” and “repeats” – excerpt P27); and to prepare her curricular resources (such as her PowerPoint slides).  (P26) Pam: Actualy frankly speaking when I was planning my lesons, I didn’t realy think “Theory, theory” and how to vary it and that kind of thing… the principles that were picked up from this theory were sort of said during these metings, which I actualy used in my slides…  (P27) Pam: They [the critical aspects of the object of student learning] definitely formed the main points of my lesons, what to focus on, I mean, the general consensus on what to focus on. Definitely I worked my slides around it and the pauses, and like the repeats were before a new concept is being taught, that kind of thing.            166 Of interest as wel was how Pam felt that the employment of variation was something that she has done previously. Nonetheles, she felt that the deliberate application of theory of variation has alowed her, firstly, to more clearly direct her students’ atention to the critical aspects (main points of the lesons) through paterns of variation and invariance. Secondly, the patern of variation aforded students the opportunity to apply concepts learnt to various contexts, even as the contexts were varied. (This was consistent with what Pam deemed as good biology teaching.) Thirdly, Pam also experienced the application of theory of variation as an enactment of “a more guided and deliberate approach” than before (mentioned in her reflective entry). When probed further for examples to ilustrate what she meant by “more (guided and) deliberate” (excerpt 28), Pam described how students’ description of mutation could include the proces of gene expresion and the related changes, rather than just relating the phenomenon to observed characteristics (phenotype) and “monsters”. Thus, students could now describe mutation with greater explanatory power that was more consistent with the canonical science of genetics, drawing on the principles of transcription and translation. In this way, students’ understanding of the principles of these genetic proceses could be reinforced, even as they were applied to real-life genetic phenomenon of mutation. (Such a capability exhibited was in fact a desirable student learning outcome – se excerpt P1 & P10) As observed in the lesons described, Pam also deliberately used the “name activity” (online game used in her third research leson) as wel as flowcharts to systematicaly bring about paterns of variation. Receiving fedback that the theory-guided pedagogical strategies were efective for students’ learning, this influenced how Pam perceived their usefulnes to benefit students’ learning and thus her decision to continue using them – “things I wil keep” (excerpt P29). (P28) Interviewer: So can you give me an example whereby you were actualy more “deliberate” than you would usualy be?          167 Pam: …when we taught mutation they link it imediately to like Down Syndrome. So it’s like the phenotype. Or like when you ask them about mutation, they wil talk about your monsters and things like that… So in this case, I gues it was more of a complete picture… So I mean drawing them to what exactly is the gene expresion that leads to the phenotype change – I gues that was the more deliberate part. Yeah.      (P29) Pam: …I think making clear flowcharts about certain… so in a way like when we actualy draw the flowcharts and show them deliberately what happens when you change something… what this leads to – al those things I wil keep.      Pam’s experiences in the learning study have also resulted in demonstrated shifts in what she considered valuable to the benefit of student learning. For example, when Pam was asked to review the Genetics Questionnaire that was completed at the beginning of the study, she highlighted how she now viewed students’ learning of content diferent from before (excerpt P30). Previously, she felt that the outcomes of genetics were expresed in terms of students knowing more content. But an appreciation of the importance of helping students to learn the content diferently semed to have emerged. An example of the later would be the use of genetic phenomenon of mutation to help students deepen their understanding of DNA structure.  (P30) Pam: The outcome of genetics is expresed in terms of students knowing (more content or content diferently). I think it’s a bit of both now. I mean, they need to know more, definitely… But the “content diferently” part, I think “yes” because… for example, through this, the mutation one, then they learn more about the DNA structure, so I think it’s a bit of both.     4.4.3 Pam’s learning about her own pedagogy  What were ilustrated and discussed in the above section (Section 4.4.2) are the ways in which Pam’s pedagogy were influenced by her experiences in the learning study, and the ways in which she experienced learning as a form of profesional development. The key experiences that constantly emerged from Pam’s description of her own experiences were:          168 (1) the emergence of a sense of clarity and coherence in Pam’s approach to curriculum interpretation. Acording to Pam, this was brought about by the opportunities to collaboratively determine the object of learning and the curricular flow, and to plan the lesons using theory of variation as a theoretical framework. Coupled with the experience of observing her colleagues’ lesons and participating in the post-leson conferences, she was able to posit a clearer focus when planning and enacting her own research lesons.  (2) the experience of authentic leson planning that moved towards more student-centered approaches, and thus fostered greater teacher empowerment and ownership. Having to rely les on prescribed curricular materials, Pam’s experience was enriched by her constant focus on students’ learning. That is, on how to more deliberately and efectively identify and addres students’ problematic conceptions. Acording to Pam, the administration of student pre-leson test has granted her several learning opportunities. For example, she modeled the questions found in the pre-leson test to create her own questions. The questions in the pre-leson tests also helped scafold her own questioning in more structured ways, in order to more efectively draw out students’ prior knowledge and to addres the gaps in their understandings. Pam also explicitly mentioned that her experiences of addresing students’ problematic conceptions were more structured and deliberate. (3) the deliberate application of theory of variation as a source of structure on Pam’s leson enactment to benefit her students’ learning. The critical aspects and paterns of variation and invariance determined collectively were applied in her clas. They resulted in an increased focus and a smoother flow both in leson planning and enactment, and guided her preparation of curricular resources (clas activities and organization of slides). In          169 addition, they also alowed her to posit a greater focus on addresing students’ “misconceptions” during leson enactment. (4) the collaborative inquiry into Pam’s own teaching practices and that of her colleague’s. The observation of colleague’s clases and her participation in post-lesson conferences were catalytic in the reexamination of her own teaching practices. It also resulted in the generation of new insights on how to improve her teaching. The platform for reflection thus provided the matrix for demonstrated shifts in what she considered valuable to the benefit of student learning. The widening of perspectives also alowed for the acquisition of new pedagogical strategies, such as the modification of Chris’ use of analogies to construct a clas activity.  (5) the opportunities Pam has had to enact the research lesons, coupled with the use of student post-leson test results and students’ interviews to reveal good pedagogical practices, also encouraged the demonstrated shifts in what Pam considered valuable to the benefit of students learning. An example would be how Pam viewed good biology teaching to include both students learning more content and diferent content.    4.5 Themes capturing the variation in the participants’ experiences In the proces of carrying out the description of the participants’ experiences and the “overal” analysis, which borrowed largely from a phenomenographic perspective, the following themes were constructed: 1. Increasing clarity and coherence in approach to curriculum interpretation.  2. Authentic leson planning resulting in the emergence of a sense of ownership and empowerment over the teachers’ own lesons.          170 3. Deliberate application of theory of variation as a source of structure on the leson enactment. 4. Collaborative inquiry into research lesons alowed for examination of one’s own teaching practices, leading to the emergence of new insights on how to improve one’s teaching.  5. Demonstrated shifts in what was considered valuable to the benefit of student learning. Each theme is discussed in greater detail below.  4.5.1 Increasing clarity and coherence in approach to curiculum interpretation The participants have expresed their state of anxiety over the lack of clarity in the syllabus, pointing to how they perceived the learning outcomes stipulated in the prescribed curriculum to not always clearly specify in detail the scope and depth to be covered (se excerpt A13 & P12). The teachers also felt constrained by the standardized national examinations that students sit for after Grade 10, which afected the way they have approached the curriculum. Hence, an increased clarity and coherence in the teachers’ approach to curriculum interpretation was an important experience of the learning study.   Two key experiences in the learning study were highlighted by the teachers in relation to the teachers’ approach to curriculum interpretation, namely, (1) the experience of collaborative planning (determination of object of learning and curricular flow, and planning of the lesons using theory of variation as the theoretical framework); and (2) observation and collective evaluation of the research lesons. These experiences resulted in the development of a common understanding of the emphases and details that would be appropriate for the research lesons. The emphases constituted the focal points of the research lesons, while the details, the scope and depth of the lesons. The development of a common understanding was also experienced through the collective establishment of relationships and links within and betwen genetic          171 topics. The re-ordering of genetic concepts and topics spanning across the diferent chapters in the prescribed textbook propeled teachers to reflect on the order in the prescribed curriculum, and to explore new possibilities in trying a diferent curricular flow. In doing so, the teachers experienced a move away from the conventional heavy reliance on the textbook or prescribed curricular materials, while concurrently making meaning of the prescribed curriculum for themselves. What also emerged from the discourse was a clearer and bigger picture of the new genetics curriculum, thus alowing the teachers to develop a more holistic approach to curriculum interpretation.   The collaborative discourse has alowed for the pooling and interrogation of diferent perspectives and experiences, and the arrival of consensus. The sharing of a common understanding in the team’s approach to curriculum interpretation has in fact alowed for clarification of the individual teacher’s own ideas, beliefs and perspectives, and thus greater clarity and coherence for the individual participant’s interpretation of the genetics curriculum. This sense of “unity” can be appreciated to draw its power from the very diversity that was simultaneously experienced within the group. In other words, the nature of the teacher collaboration involved both the variation of experiences and perspectives, as wel as how it subsequently lends power to the convergences of these perspectives, whereby the generation of ideas could be explored, examined and embraced. Thus, the learning context in this learning study, aforded by collaborative endeavors, underscores the importance of a discourse whereby diferent “meanings are negotiated and disambiguated, as wel as a proces in which common grounds [amongst the teachers] are established and widened” (Tsui, 2004, p. 167). The former highlights the need for diversity and variation, and the later, for unity.            172 Another key experience of the participating teachers foreground the space created within the learning study for leson observations and post-leson conferences. What is noteworthy was that the proces of curriculum interpretation was an ongoing proces throughout the teachers’ participation in the learning study. In addition, the arrangement of having Chris to start off the research lesons encouraged the tapping on the expertise and rich teaching experiences of more experienced teachers. This contributed to the ways Amy and Pam experienced the evolution of clarity and coherence in curriculum interpretation. Through the observation of colleagues’ lesons and the post-leson conferences, participants experienced variation in the ways the lesons were enacted. The experience of diferent pedagogical strategies deepened the connection betwen the approach to curriculum interpretation and its subsequent implementation. As such, intended learning outcomes that were related to the use of specific pedagogies came to the fore of teachers’ atention. And upon reflection, they alowed teachers to gain a clearer understanding of the ways their colleagues have approached and interpreted the new genetics curriculum. These understandings consequently (re-)shaped their own approaches to curriculum interpretation.   The experiences of the participants in the learning study thus mirror those in research literature. The outcome space of teacher learning could likewise be interpreted as the coming to a shared understanding of the impacts of the teachers’ pedagogical decisions and practices on their students, even as the teachers shared their varied understandings, pooled their teaching experiences, and collectively explored their beliefs and values about teaching and learning (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Pang & Marton, 2003,2005; Putnam & Borko, 2000). This consequently alowed for teachers to develop their approach to curriculum with greater clarity and coherence, and thus alowing them to learn profesionaly.          173 4.5.2 Authentic leson planning resulting in the emergence of a sense of ownership and empowerment over the teachers’ own lesons  Another way in which the participating teachers experienced learning while enacting the new genetics curriculum was through authentic leson planning. The meaning of the term “authentic” took its reference from the interpretations of the teachers themselves. Although the teachers were not asked for formal definitions of what they thought authentic leson planning were, their ideas around it were derived from what they thought good biology teaching and learning were. The interpretation of “authentic” leson planning in this study, in acordance to the participating teachers, could be appreciated as one that was geared towards student-centered approaches. In the description of good biology teaching, the teachers also mentioned about the use of pedagogies that moved away from teacher-centered ones, and from a heavy reliance on prescribed curricular materials (e.g., excerpt P2). The teachers themselves viewed the prescribed curriculum as being content and asesment-driven (se excerpt A5 & A11), thus resulting in their use of more teacher-centered approaches. These perspectives have shaped the teachers’ own understandings of “student-centered” approaches. In recognizing the gap betwen what they perceived to be good teaching practices and their current planning practices, the teachers often atributed the gap to the lack of time; an over-crowded syllabus; the presure of examinations; and thus their conventional reliance on prescribed curricular materials (as was revealed through the teacher interviews). This gap is similarly highlighted in literature, emerging as tensions whereby teachers are constrained from implementing a curriculum that is consistent with their personal beliefs (Eliott, 1991; Evans, 1996; Hodson, 1993). The teachers, in expresing their desire for their pedagogies to be more student-centered, have also shared about their atempts before participating in the learning study to enact more student-focused          174 lesons (e.g., excerpt C4, P6, P7 & P8) (The teachers’ own ideas around student-centered approaches were used in the analysis and interpretation of their experiences).    When describing how the teachers have experienced curriculum interpretation in a more enriched way than before (in Section 4.5.1), it was correlated with a move away from the conventional heavy reliance on prescribed curricular materials. This experience could be interpreted to have overflowed into the planning of the lesons. Feling that their leson planning in this learning study was geared towards a greater focus on students’ learning, the teachers felt that there was greater consistency betwen their leson planning and their own beliefs about good biology teaching. This resulted in a sense of greater teacher empowerment and ownership. The teachers have expresed how a collaborative discourse around the specific object of learning in the learning study resulted in a greater focus on students’ learning and development of a capability (object of student learning). Concurrently, the collaborative planning of the curricular flow was a space carved out for the emergence, exploration and examination of varied ideas that centered around student learning - to explore how one might deliberately addres students’ learning needs through an organization of the concepts to be learnt. Again, enhancing students’ learning was the central focus.   The employment of theory of variation to guide the leson planning also encouraged atention to be paid to student learning. Atempts to understand and utilize students’ experiences, and considerations on how to enhance student learning through the creation of paterns of variation and invariance (in acordance to theory of variation) were made. Thus, the discourse within the learning study has alowed for students’ conceptions and experiences, and their chalenges in learning genetics, to constantly come to the fore of teachers’ atention. The          175 constant focus on students’ learning and conceptions was also brought about through a systematic inquiry into students’ prior knowledge and experiences – that is, through the administration of student pre-leson test and interviews. This can be appreciated as a way to ground the inquiry of the teachers’ own clasroom practices on “clasroom-based data” (Nelson & Slavit, 2007). In addition, the results were supported with the use of literature that foreground students’ prior knowledge and their chalenges in learning genetics. As mentioned in Chapter 1 (Section 1.3.2), research literature may not always be readily available to teachers (Bencze & Hodson, 1999; Pedreti & Hodson, 1995; Rosenholz, 1989). In contrast, thus, was how the participating teachers’ profesional learning in this study appeared to be enriched by deliberate atempts to incorporate research literature to inform and afect the teachers’ teaching practices.   In elucidating the ways in which students approach and experience genetics, the teachers were able to draw out students’ misconceptions (a term they used to refer to conceptions that were inconsistent with canonical science) and uncover gaps in students’ understandings. The teachers felt that this experience was diferent from before, whereby previously, the elucidation of students’ prior knowledge often relied on “verbal questioning” of their students in clas, or on the teachers’ prior teaching experiences. The opportunity for a systematic inquiry into students’ conceptions alowed for the confirmation of their own perceptions of students’ “misconceptions”, while concurrently alowing some of their taken-for-granted asumptions about students’ prior knowledge to be chalenged. In addition, not only did the participating teachers fel that they were learning a new skil - how they could more systematicaly inquire into students’ prior knowledge, but they were also more deliberate in using students’ knowledge to guide their leson planning. Their experiences were similar to Marton’s (1986) description of the mapping of students’ thinking at the start of a unit, which helped focus teachers’ atention on          176 information that might not be part of students’ knowledge. The sensitivity to learners’ prior knowledge and experiences - whether students could make sense of the critical aspects through their previous knowledge and experiences, was paid atention to. In other words, what the participating teachers have experienced was how the determination of the object of learning and critical aspects (and subsequent leson planning) drew from students’ real experiences, such that the characterization of the variation betwen the qualitatively diferent ways of experiencing genetics did not rest on an a priori analysis, but was empiricaly grounded in students’ experiences (Marton & Booth, 1997).   As the teachers’ understanding of students’ conceptions deepened, there was also an increasing sense of motivation and need to deliberately addres some of students’ understandings that were not consistent with the canonical science of genetics. Teachers deliberately created opportunities in their lesons for students to confront, examine and change their own conceptions, for example, through the use of key questions. The teachers also explicitly highlighted these “misconceptions” to the students. In fact, it was observed that the teachers’ use of strategies were consistent with that of conceptual change theory (Posner et al., 1982; Tanner & Alen, 2005). In addition, teachers’ curricular resources, such as their PowerPoint presentations, were also modified acordingly. Thus, what was experienced was how the systematic inquiry into students’ prior knowledge resulted in the planning and implementation of deliberate and focused interventions.  The establishment and widening of common ground (Bowden & Marton; 1998; Marton & Booth, 1997; Marton et al., 2004; Tsui, 2004) also constituted the deliberate interventions that the teachers took. With a clearer understanding of students’ prior knowledge and experiences,          177 the teachers felt that they were able to establish and to widen common ground more quickly and efectively. Their overal leson planning experiences were also enriched by the pitching of their lesons more appropriately to the level of students’ understandings; and the teachers were able to use efective entry points to introduce new concepts in more meaningful ways. The teachers’ pedagogies thus reflected the principles underlying the notion of a “relevance structure” (Bowden & Marton, 1998; Marton & Booth, 1997; Marton & Tsui, 2004), as wel as the importance of making connections with the students’ life experiences and what they learn in science (e.g., Meyer, 1998). This resulted in both the creation of new curricular activities (e.g., Amy’s “Incredibles” activity) as wel as a more efective use of previously acquired curricular resources (e.g., the viewing of a video three times instead of one). Consequently, in widening the space of learning, student learning was enriched.  In the introductory chapter, in explaining the context of teacher profesional development in Singapore (Section 1.3), I have highlighted a concern amongst Singaporean educators. That is, a prescribed curriculum, and a society that places great emphasis on performance in asesment, may result in teachers merely atending to the technical aspects of implementing decisions made by central authority about the curriculum (Pedreti & Hodson, 1995). Signs of a similar phenomenon was also observed in this study – for example, Amy’s heavy reliance on the textbook to organize her PowerPoint slides (excerpt A5); or Pam’s mentioned of how easy it was to tailor her lesons to the prescribed curriculum instead of looking beyond it (excerpt P2). What was described in this section is how the participants have experienced authentic leson planning. This could be experienced as a move away from a heavy reliance on prescribed materials, and a move towards more student-centered approaches – the later being expresed by the teachers as approaches that were more consistent with their beliefs          178 about good biology teaching. Similarly, in Pang’s (2006) study, most of the participating teachers were reported to have shifted their focus from a teacher-centered to a more student-focused approach; from teaching towards student learning.    The results of this study also demonstrates how authentic leson planning that is compatible with teachers’ personal beliefs about good biology learning and teaching was experienced in this learning study. Such compatibility lends the power for teachers to develop a deeper sense of ownership and empowerment over their own lesons. Hence, what is demonstrated is the potential of learning study to encourage teachers to move beyond being mere receivers of curriculum wisdom who should readily change their ways to respond to new curriculum directives or rhetoric (Hodson, 1988), or would merely atend to the technical aspects of implementing these directives (Pedreti & Hodson, 1995). It urges teachers to be involved in their own curriculum development and planning through “thinking” and “doing” (Connely & Clandinin, 1998, p.4), and for teachers to exercise judgment to make their own meanings (Eliott, 1991) as practitioners who take “action” (Grundy, 1987, p. 65).   4.5.3 Deliberate application of theory of variation as a source of structure on the leson enactment The deliberate application of theory of variation served as a source of structure on the participating teachers’ leson enactment. Its application alowed for increased focus and coherence across the genetic topics (such as gene expresion and heredity), as wel as within the topic of gene expresion (including the newly introduced transcription and translation) itself. With regards to the former, the employment of the theory has alowed diferent critical aspects of the object of student learning to be determined, bringing together these aspects from diferent          179 chapters in the prescribed textbook. For example, in enacting a patern of variation and invariance, the variation of the nucleotide sequence of a gene was employed. This variation in fact described the genetic phenomenon of mutation, which typicaly, would not have been included in the topic focused on. Al the teachers found that the inclusion of mutation at this point aided students to develop a deeper understanding of the newly introduced genetic proceses of transcription and translation, while benefiting students’ learning of subsequent genetic topics as wel. Thus, the inclusion of mutation helped them to beter enact teaching the new genetics curriculum in a more holistic manner. In addition, a deepened understanding of transcription and translation in turn granted students greater explanatory power to explain the real-life phenomenon of mutation, by applying the principles of transcription and translation to explain the proces of mutation. This was consistent with the teachers’ beliefs about good biology teaching - the development of students’ capacity to apply what they learnt to real-life contexts.   What is worth mentioning at this point is that the teachers’ decision to include mutation, in order to further enrich students’ understanding of the structural and functional aspects of genetic materials (including the proceses of transcription and translation), is in fact supported in research papers (Lewis & Katmann, 2004; Tsui & Treagust, 2004). What was valued by the teachers were the opportunities to improve the organization of genetic topics and thus to addres the problem of poor organization of topics (Banet & Ayuso, 2000; Lewis & Wood-Robinson, 2000; Lewis et al., 2000b). Hence, the deliberate application of theory of variation as a source of structure provided an opportunity for teachers to “bring the disparate pieces together to give a holistic overview or to make the relationship betwen topics explicit” (Lewis & Wood-Robinson, 2000, p. 190).            180 What is equaly noteworthy was that teachers’ support for the inclusion of mutation was related to how the topic of mutation was actualy part of the prescribed curriculum. Because Grade 10 teachers generaly devote large amounts of their time completing the prescribed curriculum (as was revealed through the teacher interviews), there would typicaly be litle perceived incentive to include topics that were beyond the scope of the prescribed curriculum. Thus, the notion of  “curricular fit” is underscored here, whereby the introduction of topics through paterns of variation should not be perceived to increase the teaching load of an already content-packed curriculum. The caution against introducing new initiatives or programs (including teacher profesional development opportunities) that might increase the workload of teachers was also raised in research literature (Fullan, 2001; Ungerleider, 2003).  The deliberate application of theory of variation also alowed for greater coherence within the individual lesons. The teachers themselves focused on the critical aspects of the object of student learning and the paterns of variation and invariance. Although the teachers felt that they have employed some form of variation in their clases previously, their experience of applying theory of variation in the research lesons resulted in more deliberate and systematic variations being enacted. The deliberate application of theory of variation in leson planning also resulted in the modification or creation of curricular resources. These included the rearrangement of PowerPoint slides, the use of new examples and case studies in clas, and the creation of new activities (e.g., Chris’ “Scrabble” game). Thus, theory of variation served as a source of structure to leson enactment through the following ways: 1. Drawing teachers’ atention to key (critical) aspects and links that were to be made; 2. Shaping the leson flow - as critical aspects (typicaly found in diferent topics in genetics) were introduced in specific sequences.           181 3. Afecting the curricular resources used, such as the PowerPoint slides, and the sourcing or creation of new activities.   4. The enactment of variation was more systematic and deliberate than previously employed. What the application of theory of variation contributed, as a theory of instruction (Lo et al., 2006), was how the paterns of variation and invariance enacted could help scafold and benefit students’ learning.  The experience of enacting lesons based on theory of variation has also alowed teachers to deepen their experience of enacting a more student-centered approach. In view that the constraints of a national examination and a prescribed curriculum often resulted in teachers employing more teacher-centered pedagogies, the opportunities aforded by learning study to encourage teachers to employ more student-centered approaches (desired by the teachers themselves) supports its use in teacher development.   In this study, what was experienced by the teachers is analogous to what Marton and Booth (1997) termed as a “pedagogy of awarenes”, as was demonstrated in other studies as wel (Fraser et al., 2006; Linder et al., 2006; Lo et al., 2006). The teachers were made aware of the variation in how students could make sense of the critical aspects through the students’ previous experiences. This alowed for students’ discernment of the critical aspects of the object of student learning through various pedagogical strategies, which included the enactment of paterns of variation and invariance in acordance to theory of variation. As such, mutual awarenes (Marton & Booth, 1997) betwen the teachers and the students was made possible through a collaboratively created space of learning, whereby student learning could          182 subsequently be enhanced, while teachers would learn about the object of learning and how to handle it.   The experience of employing theory of variation as a source of structure on teachers’ enactment of their research lesons thus alowed for enriched and diferent ways of experiencing their own teaching. The potential of applying theory of variation to guide teaching, towards a more student-centered approach, resulted in how the teachers deemed the employment of the theory as “practical”, and as a way to acquire a new skil or tool. Not only did this result in the teachers’ intent to similarly apply the theory in their future enactment of genetic lesons, but to other topics as wel. This suggests the potential of the learning study to bridge the often perceived divide betwen theory and practice – as was similarly supported by Pang (2006), even as greater connections betwen theory of variation, clasroom practice, and what teachers valued to benefit students’ learning could be reinforced and experienced in more enriched ways.  Prior to concluding this section, it is also worthwhile to mention that, as was highlighted in the literature review in Chapter 2, one of the key diferences betwen the learning study and leson study, and betwen the learning study and collaborative action research studies, is learning study’s employment of a theoretical framework. The experiences of the participants in this study serve to further elucidate the diferences betwen the diferent approaches – that it is not merely the absence or presence of a theory that distinguishes the learning study, but the kinds of student and teacher learning that could potentialy be yielded because of its application. Nonetheles, it was not the intention of this study to deem one approach as beter than the other. Rather, that the teacher learning opportunities aforded by the learning study could be more thoroughly explored.          183 4.5.4 Collaborative inquiry into research lesons allowed for examination of one’s own teaching practices, leading to the emergence of new insights on how to improve one’s teaching Opportunities to inquire into research lesons in a collaborative manner included: 1. the determination of object of learning and curricular flow; 2. administration of pre- and post-leson tests and student interviews; 3. collective planning of the research lesons 4. participation in observation of research lesons and in post-leson conferences. The later alowed for an articulation and consolidation of good teaching practices.   The collaborative inquiry into teachers’ research lesons, and thus their own teaching practices, served as a means for the participating teachers to receive fedback on their teaching. The post-leson conferences alowed