Biology-specific vocabulary: students’ understanding and lecturers’ expectations of student understanding

Harriet L. Jones, Jon R. Green, John Prendergast, Jon Scott

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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The current A-level biology curriculum includes a broad coverage of all the biosciences which demands knowledge of a wide range of biological vocabulary. Students (n = 184) from two UK universities were presented with a list of vocabulary, associated with a ‘Revise Biology’ text which highlighted key terms that students should know. Lecturers (n = 26) were asked which of these terms they expected students to know, or be aware of. Findings revealed that students’ claimed knowledge of vocabulary exceeded lecturer expectations. In addition, there were a number of terms which students did not understand and lecturers did not expect them to know, which could be removed from A-level biology courses. This is discussed in relation to whether A-level curricula need to be so content heavy and whether lecturers would benefit from knowing more about their students’ knowledge of discipline-specific terms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)422-430
JournalJournal of Biological Education
Issue number4
Early online date3 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • Biology
  • Vocabulary
  • curriculum
  • expectations

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