This study examined preservice elementary teachers’ biological classification conceptions and whether process-oriented guided-inquiry learning (POGIL) or traditional pedagogies affect preservice elementary teachers’ understanding of biological classification conceptions. A literature review was completed to determine common biological classification conceptions that exist among all researched populations, what misconceptions are present regarding biological classification, and whether POGIL was an appropriate pedagogy to use in the experimental study. The findings from the literature review were used to develop a mixed-method research study. Both quantitative and qualitative data was gathered through the use of pre- and posttests and post-instruction clinical interviews. Participants (n = 47) were preservice elementary teachers enrolled at the Minnesota State University, Mankato in the BIOL 480 course during the fall semester of 2012. The traditional (n = 22) and POGIL (n = 25) groups received their respective instructional methods, completed Classification Conceptions Inventory and Classification pre- and posttests, and participants (n = 8) completed a post-instruction interview. Overall, results indicated that there was no significant difference between treatment groups, but there was a significant difference between sections for specific instruments. The qualitative data showed some evidence that POGIL was more effective than traditional pedagogy, but not enough to conclude POGIL was more effective. This study concluded that more research must be conducted.


Bethann Lavoie

Committee Member

Scott Page

Committee Member

Carrie Chapman

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)





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