Global Learning Using Biology PBL: A Texas-China Collaboration in Middle Grade Genetics


21st century and global skills are generally described as competencies for communication and problem solving skills as well as developing the ability to view content-specific issues through a multicultural perspective. Preparing K-12 students for science futures means they must have opportunities to concurrently acquire skills in 21st century and global learning.  Additionally, the professional biology community has called for advancing middle grades students’ knowledge of complex scientific phenomena using novel pedagogies like Project-Based Learning (PBL).  Thus, middle grade educators are now tasked to design classroom opportunities for STEM-focused PBL using global interaction such to develop and refine global and 21st century skills and developing students’ content knowledge.  This classroom centered project paired middle school students in Texas with Chinese peers to collaborate on a biology-based Project-Based Learning (PBL) activity on the complex topic of genetics. During the 7 day-long unit on heredity, the goal was to utilize global collaboration in STEM to not only understanding inheritance and differentiate between dominant and recessive traits, but also embed global competencies and 21st century skills.  The context, planning, and outcomes of the global collaboration are discussed as well as recommendation for future collaborations in Global STEM collaborations in middle school.


21st century skills; Genetics; Global Collaboration; Heredity; Project Based Learning; STEM Education

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