Exemplification in Undergraduate Biology: Dominant Images and Their Impact on Student Acquisition of Conceptual Knowledge

  • Alandeon W. OliveiraEmail author
  • Erin Johnston
  • Adam Oliver Brown


Striving to better understand exemplification, this study examines the types of animal behavior references (anthropomorphic/non-anthropomorphic) and taxonomic groups featured in the examples given by an undergraduate biology instructor during a semester-long course. It is reported that instruction was dominated by anthropomorphic examples of mammals and birds. Further, these dominant examples were found to bias the conceptual knowledge acquired by students who showed a tendency to conceive of nonhuman conduct in terms of mammalian and avian action. It is argued that extending biological exemplification practices beyond mammals and birds is essential to help students develop deep conceptual knowledge and an unbiased appreciation of life.


Biology examples Animal behavior Undergraduate biology Dominant images 


Afin de mieux comprendre l’exemplification, cette étude analyse les types de références au comportement animal (anthropomorphique/non anthropomorphique) et aux groupes taxonomiques qui figurent dans les exemples donnés par un enseignant de biologie au premier cycle dans un cours semestriel à l’université. Il semble que les exemples anthropomorphiques sur les mammifères et les oiseaux dominent cet enseignement. De plus, les exemples dominants ont pour résultat d’influencer les connaissances conceptuelles acquises par les étudiants, qui tendent à concevoir les comportements non humains en termes de références aux mammifères et aux oiseaux. Nous estimons que le fait d’étendre les pratiques d’exemplification biologique au-delà des mammifères et des oiseaux est. essentiel pour aider les étudiants à développer des connaissances conceptuelles profondes ainsi qu’une appréciation non partiale de la vie.


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Copyright information

© Ontario Institute for Educational Studies (OISE) 2018
corrected publication (July/2018)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alandeon W. Oliveira
    • 1
    Email author
  • Erin Johnston
    • 2
  • Adam Oliver Brown
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Educational Theory and Practice DepartmentState University of New YorkAlbanyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Faculty of EducationUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

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