Anat Yarden, Department of Science Teaching, Weizmann Institute of Science,
Adapted primary literature (APL) is an educational text genre that retains characteristics of
primary literature while adapting the contents to the comprehension level of high-school
students (Yarden, 2009). We hypothesized that learning using APL may be a way of
developing a capacity for scientific ways of thinking among students. Indeed we found that
learning through APL articles provided a stimulus for question-asking by high-school
students, and resulted in higher thinking levels and uniqueness (Brill & Yarden, 2003). We
also examined the possible benefits of learning using APL versus secondary literature,
particularly with respect to their influence on the creation and formation of scientific literacy.
We found that students who read an APL article demonstrated better inquiry skills, whereas
those who read a secondary literature article comprehended the text better (Baram-Tsabari &
Yarden, 2005). In addition, we observed that using an APL-based curriculum in
biotechnology in the naturalistic setting of the classroom led to students' cognitive and
affective engagement, active learning, inquiry thinking, and understanding of the nature of
science. Students’ challenges were mainly linked to the comprehension of complex, multi-
stage, biotechnological processes and methods that are abundant throughout the curriculum
and required the use of previous knowledge in new contexts (Falk, Brill, & Yarden, 2008).
Our recent work shows that despite claims of comprehension difficulties students were able
to coordinate between elements belonging to different epistemic status or context, i.e. theory,
data, experimental stages, biotechnological applications and text (Falk & Yarden, 2009). Our
findings indicate that in the context of learning using an APL article the students perform a
wide array of inquiry aspects, such as exploring the theoretical basis of the experimental
elements, their role within the experimental design and their practical implications. In
addition, students suggest alternative methods, design experiments and predict their results.
We suggest that the coordination practices performed by the students enable the emergence
of authentic scientific practices and learning by inquiry.
Baram-Tsabari, A., & Yarden, A. (2005). Text genre as a factor in the formation of scientific
literacy. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(4), 403-428.
Brill, G., & Yarden, A. (2003). Learning biology through research papers: A stimulus for
question-asking by high-school students. Cell Biology Education, 2(4), 266-274.
Falk, H., Brill, G., & Yarden, A. (2008). Teaching a biotechnology curriculum based on
adapted primary literature. International Journal of Science Education, 30(14), 1841-
Falk, H., & Yarden, A. (2009). "Here the scientists explain what I said." Coordination
practices elicited during the enactment of the Results and Discussion sections of
adapted primary literature. Research in Science Education, 39(3), 349-383.
Yarden, A. (2009). Guest Editorial - Reading Scientific Texts: Adapting Primary Literature for
Promoting Scientific Literacy. Research in Science Education, 39(3), 307-311.