Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Science Education Major in Biology

Subject Categories



Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC College of Education


Science Education

Thesis Adviser

Auxencia A. Limjap

Defense Panel Chair

Bee Ching U. Ong

Defense Panel Member

Filmar G. Brawner
Josefina B. de Jesus
Adora S. Pili
Esperanza Maribel G. Agoo


This study investigated the students’ epistemological beliefs and conceptual understanding of plant cellular respiration in a constructivist learning environment within the setting of a college plant physiology class. Specifically, this research determined the epistemological beliefs, levels of conceptual understanding before and after instruction and the types of conceptual changes that occurred among students as well as the pattern of conceptual change observed among students belonging to the same category of epistemological beliefs and range of pretest scores. The participants consisted of twenty one BS Biology and thirteen BSEd-major in Biology students taking up Plant Physiology at Central Luzon State University, Munoz, Nueva Ecija. The study made use of qualitative research design. Achievement test and interviews were administered and conducted to determine the level of conceptual understanding of the students. A conceptual trace analysis based on Jensen and Finley’s method was utilized to describe the changes from the pretest to the posttest. On the other hand, in order to determine the epistemological beliefs, the students were asked to make journal report and were interviewed individually. To build a constructivist learning environment, student-centered activities were employed to promote active learning in the classroom such as class-inquiry discussion, case study/problem posing, cooperative learning, concept mapping, history and philosophy of science and predict & explain. Results of the study showed that most of the students showed sophisticated epistemological beliefs on the dimensions of the nature of knowledge and the process of vii knowing/elements in acquiring knowledge. On the other hand, majority of the students held mixed epistemological beliefs on the source of knowledge. The participants in the study did not have a clear idea of plant cellular respiration before the formal instruction. The constructivist learning environment had a positive effect in improving the conceptual understanding of the students about the process. As a consequence, majority of the students experienced positive change in their conception. Nobody holds naïve beliefs on the three dimensions of knowledge. Students with sophisticated epistemological beliefs got higher percent frequency of responses in the achievement test that reached theoretical and semantic conceptual change than those with mixed beliefs. In comparing the types of conceptual changes that occurred among students belonging to the upper 33.33% and lower 33.33% of the class based on the pretest scores for those with sophisticated and mixed beliefs, results showed that the students’ epistemological beliefs have somewhat affected the students’ cognition. Better conceptual change was experienced by the students with sophisticated epistemological beliefs regardless of their pre-instructional conception.

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Physical Description

xvi, 371 leaves


Cell respiration; Constructivism (Education)

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