Barcoding Life's Matrix: Engaging Students as Citizen Scientists in the Barcode of Life Initiative
Discovery-based science education represents a structured alternative to open-ended forms of hands-on inquiry that is now being employed in a number of secondary and post-secondary settings to address science education reform agendas. In the context of molecular life science education, this particular form of instruction links domain knowledge, laboratory methods, and bioinformatics (or computational biology) within the framework of a complete and integrated analytic workflow that culminates in a tangible scientific output and a bona fide contribution to a particular body of scientific knowledge. From our perspective, the structure imposed by a discovery-based mode of instruction is particularly well suited to high school learning settings because it helps teachers overcome some of the more challenging pedagogical aspects of molecular life science education outlined above. Furthermore, discovery-based instruction actively promotes ongoing student reflection and discussion, and effectively models how scientific information is generated to formulate new hypotheses for the advancement of scientific knowledge. A carefully conceived model should therefore provide students with a priori knowledge of the types of research questions that their work can help address, and present novel opportunities for them to formulate and test hypotheses derived from the scientific information generated by their predecessors, thereby disambiguating the discovery–investigation continuum for young learners.