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Is the Blueprint the Building? Studies on the Use of Social Representation Theory, Information Theory, Folkscience, Metaphor and Language to Understand Student Comprehension of Metaphors in the Domain of Gene Expression
Graytock, Andrea Michele

2011, Doctor of Philosophy, Ohio State University, EDU Teaching and Learning.
Learning about gene expression can be hampered by the multiple steps and technical terms used to represent the process. Technical terms and explanations are based on the metaphors of language, code, containers, gift-giving, computer programs, and construction. The effective use of metaphor depends on the background of the audience and their familiarity with base concepts of the metaphors in use. Inappropriate metaphors also interfere with new information projection from the metaphor to new information. A series of three qualitative studies was carried out to determine non-science majors’ interpretation of commonly-used gene expression metaphors. For Study 1students were asked to interpret the metaphors DNA IS A LANGUAGE, DNA IS A CODE, DNA IS A CARRIER OF INFORMATION, and DNA IS A COMPUTER PROGRAM. Using Corbin & Strauss’s Grounded Theory, similar action/interactional strategies from interpretations of participants were grouped to form concepts and consequences of those concepts were noted. Concepts that reflected a similar theme were combined to form categories. These categories reflected the conceptual understanding of each metaphor. For Study 2, students were asked to explain the meaning of the base concepts language and code and the target DNA. Then they were asked to explain the meaning of the metaphors DNA IS A CODE and DNA IS A LANGUAGE. The same coding procedure from Study 1 was used. For Study 3, students were asked to provide the base and to provide an explanation for a self-generated metaphor using the targets “DNA”, “RNA”, “Proteins”, “Transcription”, “Translation”, and “Ribosome”. Bases were coded for concepts and explanations were coded for action/interactional strategies and consequences. Using categories developed from action/interactional strategy concepts from Study 1, students, when interpreting DNA as a language, wrote of DNA as involved in internal dialogue with cells, molecules, or the body either as a participant in communication or used as a medium of communication between cells or body parts; DNA as a language that one or a very few individuals could understand; requires experts to understand it or translate it; and, like language, is made up of smaller components that can be combined. As a code, DNA was made up of individual components in a particular sequence was the most common interpretation. When asked to define both the base and target before being asked to interpret the metaphor, students used the features associated with the base to interpret DNA IS A LANGUAGE as a means of interpersonal communication, there are different languages and one must know the language to understand it. The categories and concepts were similar to those of Study 1 but the interpersonal feature was most common. Codes were defined by their components and the sequence. These features were used in the interpretation of the metaphor. Similar categories and concepts were developed from interpretations of both studies. Most interpretations for all of the metaphors were not the features used in the development of the code, language, carrier, and computer program metaphors. It was suggested that there were key features used to interpret scientific metaphors, especially theory-constitutive metaphors.
David Haury, PhD (Advisor)
Antoinette Errante, PhD (Committee Member)
Laura Wagner, PhD (Committee Member)
350 p.

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Graytock, A. (2011). Is the Blueprint the Building? Studies on the Use of Social Representation Theory, Information Theory, Folkscience, Metaphor and Language to Understand Student Comprehension of Metaphors in the Domain of Gene Expression. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Graytock, Andrea. "Is the Blueprint the Building? Studies on the Use of Social Representation Theory, Information Theory, Folkscience, Metaphor and Language to Understand Student Comprehension of Metaphors in the Domain of Gene Expression." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2011. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 01 Sep 2015.

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Graytock, Andrea "Is the Blueprint the Building? Studies on the Use of Social Representation Theory, Information Theory, Folkscience, Metaphor and Language to Understand Student Comprehension of Metaphors in the Domain of Gene Expression." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2011. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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