University of Padova (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN17 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 60-67
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.1015
Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Today, teaching Biology in school is still mainly tied to the transmissive method based on behaviourist theories. As a consequence, the student is seen as a person who passively absorbs knowledge transmitted through textbooks, to be learned by heart.

This makes the subject extremely tedious and tricky to students. (Therefore), It becomes necessary for school to take on a new challenge: to stimulate children with passion, interest, curiosity about the world of science and to strengthen their critical approach to scientific issues.
As claimed by authoritative exponents of teaching Biology, this will be possible through a change of methods and teaching practices in the didactic management. Teaching Sciences, and in particular Biology, must be characterized by an active teaching in which students can learn by doing, actively involved in their learning and knowledge building.

These considerations resulted in the present teaching research, aimed at testing two experimental hypothesis. The first concerned the validity and effectiveness of a workshop approach (of direct exploration) in the teaching of Biology and, specifically, in the teaching-learning processes of the circulatory and skeletal systems of vertebrates. The second experimental hypothesis concerned, the opportunity to deal with these physiological systems even in a comparative anatomy perspective. The comparative approach, providing students a complete overview of the operation and structure of the body of vertebrates, allows to overcome the anthropocentric view that the traditional teaching proposes today.

The research was conducted in two Primary Schools: "L. Radice" Institute, located in Mestre Venezia (VE) and “Don Bosco” Institute of Vigodarzere (PD). In the experimental classes, the circulatory and skeletal systems have been studied comparing heart and bones from various species of animal (such as chicken, dog, pig, rabbit, roe deer, striped dolphin and trout).

The manipulation and the direct observation of biological material allowed students to observe morphological similarities and differences in vertebrates, in order to understand the structure of those vertebrate body systems through real experience. The project included supplementary activities, differenced for the two systems, stimulating discussions and reflections about certain diseases of the skeletal system and exploring the circulatory system in a physiological perspective.

The results highlighted the possibility of proposing, even in the Primary School, laboratory activities in Biology and the possibility to approach the students with complex subjects, like Comparative Physiology and Anatomy. Furthermore, these disciplines helped students to mature a more complete and qualitatively better knowledge about the circulatory and skeletal systems.

From the analysis of the self-evaluations, it emerged that almost the totality of the children appreciated the laboratory activities.
In conclusion, the Scientific Teaching can progress towards gradual improvement, under the stimulus of the desire for innovation.
Life sciences, primary school, vertebrate animals, scientific method.