To address the different learning styles of students, and because students can access animation from off-campus computers, the use of digital animation in teaching cell biology has become increasingly popular. Sample processes from cell biology that are more clearly presented in animation than in static illustrations are identified. The value of animation is evaluated on whether the process being taught involves motion, cellular location, or sequential order of numerous events. Computer programs for developing animation and animations associated with cell biology textbooks are reviewed, and links to specific examples of animation are given. Finally, future teaching tools for all fields of biology will increasingly benefit from an expansion of animation to the use of simulation. One purpose of this review is to encourage the widespread use of animations in biology teaching by discussing the nature of digital animation.
Because cell biology has rapidly increased in breadth and depth, instructors are challenged not only to provide undergraduate science students with a strong, up-to-date foundation of knowledge, but also to engage them in the scientific process. To these ends, revision of the Cell Biology Lab course at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse was undertaken to allow student involvement in experimental design, emphasize data collection and analysis, make connections to the “big picture,” and increase student interest in the field. Multiweek laboratory modules were developed as a method to establish an inquiry-based learning environment. Each module utilizes relevant techniques to investigate one or more questions within the context of a fictional story, and there is a progression during the semester from more instructor-guided to more open-ended student investigation. An assessment tool was developed to evaluate student attitudes regarding their lab experience. Analysis of five semesters of data strongly supports the module format as a successful model for inquiry education by increasing student interest and improving attitude toward learning. In addition, student performance on inquiry-based assignments improved over the course of each semester...
Information literacy skills are critically important for the undergraduate biology student. The ability to find, understand, evaluate, and use information, whether from the scientific literature or from Web resources, is essential for a good understanding of a topic and for the conduct of research. A project in which students receive information literacy instruction and then proceed to select, update, and write about a current research topic in an upper-level cell biology course is described. Students research the chosen topic using paper and electronic resources, generate a list of relevant articles, prepare abstracts based on papers read, and, finally, prepare a “state-of-the-art” paper on the topic. This approach, which extends over most of one semester, has resulted in a number of well-researched and well-written papers that incorporate some of the latest research in cell biology. The steps in this project have also led to students who are prepared to address future projects on new and complex topics. The project is part of an undergraduate course in cell biology, but parts of the assignments can be modified to fit a variety of subject areas and levels.
We have developed and validated a tool for assessing understanding of a selection of fundamental concepts and basic knowledge in undergraduate introductory molecular and cell biology, focusing on areas in which students often have misconceptions. This multiple-choice Introductory Molecular and Cell Biology Assessment (IMCA) instrument is designed for use as a pre- and posttest to measure student learning gains. To develop the assessment, we first worked with faculty to create a set of learning goals that targeted important concepts in the field and seemed likely to be emphasized by most instructors teaching these subjects. We interviewed students using open-ended questions to identify commonly held misconceptions, formulated multiple-choice questions that included these ideas as distracters, and reinterviewed students to establish validity of the instrument. The assessment was then evaluated by 25 biology experts and modified based on their suggestions. The complete revised assessment was administered to more than 1300 students at three institutions. Analysis of statistical parameters including item difficulty, item discrimination, and reliability provides evidence that the IMCA is a valid and reliable instrument with several potential uses in gauging student learning of key concepts in molecular and cell biology.
Today, more minority students are entering undergraduate programs than ever before, but they earn only 6% of all science or engineering PhDs awarded in the United States. Many studies suggest that hands-on research activities enhance students’ interest in pursuing a research career. In this paper, we present a model for the implementation of laboratory research in the undergraduate teaching laboratory using a culturally relevant approach to engage students. Laboratory modules were implemented in upper-division genetics and cell biology courses using cassava as the central theme. Students were asked to bring cassava samples from their respective towns, which allowed them to compare their field-collected samples against known lineages from agricultural stations at the end of the implementation. Assessment of content and learning perceptions revealed that our novel approach allowed students to learn while engaged in characterizing Puerto Rican cassava. In two semesters, based on the percentage of students who answered correctly in the premodule assessment for content knowledge, there was an overall improvement of 66% and 55% at the end in the genetics course and 24% and 15% in the cell biology course. Our proposed pedagogical model enhances students’ professional competitiveness by providing students with valuable research skills as they work on a problem to which they can relate.
Memoirs by the 2012 recipient of the Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education from the American Society for Cell Biology about the establishment of the International Institute for Collaborative Cell Biology and Biochemistry, which wants to inspire a new era of international scientific cooperation by exposing scientists to diverse learning experiences.
There is accumulating evidence that animations aid learning of dynamic concepts in cell biology. However, existing animation packages are expensive and difficult to learn, and the subsequent production of even short animations can take weeks to months. Here I outline the principles and sequence of steps for producing high-quality PowerPoint animations in less than a day that are suitable for teaching in high school through college/university. After developing the animation it can be easily converted to any appropriate movie file format using Camtasia Studio for Internet or classroom presentations. Thus anyone who can use PowerPoint has the potential to make animations. Students who viewed the approximately 3-min PowerPoint/Camtasia Studio animation “Calcium and the Dual Signalling Pathway” over 15 min scored significantly higher marks on a subsequent quiz than those who had viewed still graphics with text for an equivalent time. In addition, results from student evaluations provided some data validating the use of such animations in cell biology teaching with some interesting caveats. Information is also provided on how such animations can be modified or updated easily or shared with others who can modify them to fit their own needs.
Nonscience majors often do not respond to traditional lecture-only biology
courses. However, these students still need exposure to basic biological
concepts. To accomplish this goal, forensic science was paired with compatible
cell biology subjects. Several topics such as human development and molecular
biology were found to fulfill this purpose. Another goal was to maximize the
hands-on experience of the nonscience major students. This objective was
fulfilled by specific activities such as fingerprinting and DNA typing. One
particularly effective teaching tool was a mock murder mystery complete with a
Grand Jury trial. Another objective was to improve students' attitudes
toward science. This was successful in that students felt more confident in
their own scientific abilities after taking the course. In pre/post tests,
students answered four questions about their ability to conduct science. All
four statements showed a positive shift after the course (p values
ranging from .001 to .036...