Introducing: The Newly Revised Principles for Teaching Plant Biology

The 12 Principles of Plant Biology are a widely used resource for teaching and learning plant biology, especially within the K-12 educational community. On the eve of the 25th anniversary of their development, the Education Committee would like to share with you a revised, expanded set of Principles for Teaching Plant Biology

What are the 12 Principles? The 12 Principles of Plant Biology are a framework for understanding and appreciating the critical roles of plants to create, improve and sustain life; a gateway to exploring the fascinating intricacies of plant science through inquiry and scientific thinking; and are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). They are available on the ASPB website, have been distributed in print form as a set of 12 bookmarks, and have been used to generate popular educational content, such as the “My Life As A Plant” coloring book. 

Why were they revised? A 2017 external assessment of the ASPB Education Committee’s activities and products revealed 3 primary areas of focus for growth and improvement. One of these three areas was the 12 Principles of Plant Biology. The 12 Principles were aligned with the NGSS, but NGSS was substantially revised in 2013, leaving the 12 Principles out of date. Additionally, the reviewers identified a need to expand the educational offerings associated with the Principles and to examine and expand the method by which the content was disseminated. 

How were they revised? In May 2021, we formed an advisory committee consisting of four ASPB education committee members and four additional ASPB members, who were selected by application and included: one educator from a primarily undergraduate institution, one community college educator, one K-12 educator, and one graduate student. Together, the team of eight worked to read, evaluate, align, edit, and expand the Principles. They focused on alignment to the NGSS, which is now divided into four categories. They also considered AP standards. Upon completion, the advisory committee shared their results with the education committee members, who provided additional feedback and revisions. 

What happens next? A key companion to the Principles for Teaching Plant Biology is the creation of additional laboratory and classroom activities to accompany each principle, ultimately offering multiple versions tailored to different student age groups. We will be using the BLOOME grant program in 2022 to fund the development of some of these products and will continue to identify needs and solicit activity development in future years. We will externally launch the Principles for Teaching Plant Biology to educators at the 2022 National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conference, both to share the content, seek feedback on dissemination preferences, and to urge NSTA members to join ASPB and develop BLOOME proposals. For now, please read through the Principles, consider any project ideas you may have, and watch for the launch of the BLOOME RFP in early 2022!

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