Transfer and retention of reasoning strategies taught in biological contexts

Anat Zohar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In the ‘Thinking in Science Classrooms’ project the regular biology curriculum is supplemented by learning activities designed to enhance specific thinking skills. Learning environments are designed under the assumption that teaching for higher order thinking skills requires a structured instructional sequence, focusing on inducing strategic change. A constructivist framework suggests that inducing such a change should include learning environments which are designed to challenge students' initial non‐scientific reasoning strategies. The learning environment described in the present article is designed to create a cognitive conflict with students' initial strategies. The findings from this study show that when students in eighth and ninth grade first encounter problems such as those described here, most of them do not use accurate scientific reasoning strategies. Interaction with the learning environment increased the rate of students' valid inferences from 11% to 77%. Students were able to transfer their newly acquired reasoning strategies to a new problem taken from a new biological topic. They were also able to retain their newly acquired strategies across time, and to transfer them to yet another biological topic 5 months after instruction took place.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)205-219
Number of pages15
JournalResearch in Science and Technological Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1996


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