Teaching Biology or Teaching to the Test? How High Stakes Standardized Tests Impact the Biology Classroom

By Sharon Pelech.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In many countries the curriculum mandates secondary biology teachers to teach with an increased emphasis on developing methods of inquiry that characterize the process of science in the field. Providing opportunities for students to appreciate the nature of science through inquiry-based learning seems like a logical focus for the science classroom. Unfortunately, with an increased focus on high stake standardized examinations teachers increasingly feel caught between wanting to teach science in an inquiry-based classroom and feel restricted to teach content-heavy curriculum to satisfy the standardized tests which reduces the students’ learning to the memorization of facts. Through narrative style this paper explores the conflict many science teachers are facing in the classroom. The author ties her personal experiences as a biology teacher in with the literature to reflect on and explore how this disconnect is impacting teachers’ ability to teach science, and help curb the increasing level of disinterest and lack of enthusiasm students are demonstrating towards what should be engaging, interesting subjects.

Keywords: Secondary Biology, High Stakes Examinations, Curriculum and Pedagogy, Inquiry-Focused

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 7, pp.525-534. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.219MB).

Dr. Sharon Pelech

University Associate, Teacher Preparation, Faculty of Education, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Sharon Macpherson is presently a University Associate for the Division of Teacher Preparation at the University of Calgary. She received her BED in Secondary Education from the University of Alberta and her MEd in Counselling Psychology from the University of Lethbridge. Sharon has taught in a variety of settings in Alberta and the NWT, the last 11 years in a Calgary High School as a Biology Teacher and Guidance Counsellor. She is presently on a 2 year secondment with the University of Calgary and has taught Field Classes as well as Secondary Science Curriculum.


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