Our research group studies the learning and teaching of biological mechanisms. While mechanisms have been used for decades as a means of explaining natural phenomena, in school, not much attention is paid to this important aspect of understanding science. When the role of mechanisms in explaining natural phenomena is overlooked, these mechanisms become a collection of memorized descriptive facts. This not only misrepresents what science really is, it may also hinder the ability to use these mechanisms as a resource for everyday decision-making.
How can we change this? A deep understanding of how students learn and make use of biological mechanisms is needed to answer this question, and this is precisely the focus of our research group. By developing educational programs centered on biological phenomena and examining students' learning process, we are studying aspects of mechanistic understanding and mechanistic reasoning. Our aim is to explore the development of mechanistic reasoning and characterize the core knowledge resources that promote it. We are also studying the challenges encountered by teachers in teaching biological mechanisms, and the contribution of understanding these mechanisms to scientific literacy and health literacy.