Probing the Relevance of Chemical Identity Thinking in Biochemical Contexts.
ABSTRACT: The solving of problems in biochemistry often uses concepts from multiple disciplines such as chemistry and biology. Chemical identity (CI) is a foundational concept in the field of chemistry, and the knowledge, thinking, and practices associated with CI are used to answer the following questions: "What is this substance?" and "How is it different from other substances?" In this study, we examined the relevance of CI in biochemical contexts and first explored the ways in which practicing biochemists consider CI relevant in their work. These responses informed the development of creative exercises (CEs) given to second--semester biochemistry students. Analysis of the student responses to these CEs revealed that students incorporated precursors to CI thinking in more than half of their responses, which were categorized by seven previously identified themes of CI relevant to the presented biochemical contexts. The prevalence of these precursors in student responses to the CEs, coupled with the examples provided by practicing biochemists of contexts in which CI is relevant, indicate that CI thinking is relevant for both students training to be biochemists and practicing biochemists.
Project description:Interest in student conception of experimentation inspired the development of a fully validated 14-question inventory on experimental design in biology (BEDCI) by following established best practices in concept inventory (CI) design. This CI can be used to diagnose specific examples of non-expert-like thinking in students and to evaluate the success of teaching strategies that target conceptual changes. We used BEDCI to diagnose non-expert-like student thinking in experimental design at the pre- and posttest stage in five courses (total n = 580 students) at a large research university in western Canada. Calculated difficulty and discrimination metrics indicated that BEDCI questions are able to effectively capture learning changes at the undergraduate level. A high correlation (r = 0.84) between responses by students in similar courses and at the same stage of their academic career, also suggests that the test is reliable. Students showed significant positive learning changes by the posttest stage, but some non-expert-like responses were widespread and persistent. BEDCI is a reliable and valid diagnostic tool that can be used in a variety of life sciences disciplines.
Project description:Although development of critical thinking skills has emerged as an important issue in undergraduate education, implementation of pedagogies targeting these skills across different science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines has proved challenging. Our goal was to assess the impact of targeted interventions in 1) an introductory cell and molecular biology course, 2) an intermediate-level evolutionary ecology course, and 3) an upper-level biochemistry course. Each instructor used Web-based videos to flip some aspect of the course in order to implement active-learning exercises during class meetings. Activities included process-oriented guided-inquiry learning, model building, case studies, clicker-based think-pair-share strategies, and targeted critical thinking exercises. The proportion of time spent in active-learning activities relative to lecture varied among the courses, with increased active learning in intermediate/upper-level courses. Critical thinking was assessed via a pre/posttest design using the Critical Thinking Assessment Test. Students also assessed their own learning through a self-reported survey. Students in flipped courses exhibited gains in critical thinking, with the largest objective gains in intermediate and upper-level courses. Results from this study suggest that implementing active-learning strategies in the flipped classroom may benefit critical thinking and provide initial evidence suggesting that underrepresented and first-year students may experience a greater benefit.
Project description:BACKGROUND:A virtual patient (VP) can be a useful tool to foster the development of medical history-taking skills without the inherent constraints of the bedside setting. Although VPs hold the promise of contributing to the development of students' skills, documenting and assessing skills acquired through a VP is a challenge. OBJECTIVE:We propose a framework for the automated assessment of medical history taking within a VP software and then test this framework by comparing VP scores with the judgment of 10 clinician-educators (CEs). METHODS:We built upon 4 domains of medical history taking to be assessed (breadth, depth, logical sequence, and interviewing technique), adapting these to be implemented into a specific VP environment. A total of 10 CEs watched the screen recordings of 3 students to assess their performance first globally and then for each of the 4 domains. RESULTS:The scores provided by the VPs were slightly higher but comparable with those given by the CEs for global performance and for depth, logical sequence, and interviewing technique. For breadth, the VP scores were higher for 2 of the 3 students compared with the CE scores. CONCLUSIONS:Findings suggest that the VP assessment gives results akin to those that would be generated by CEs. Developing a model for what constitutes good history-taking performance in specific contexts may provide insights into how CEs generally think about assessment.
Project description:Misconceptions, also known as alternate conceptions, about key concepts often hinder the ability of students to learn new knowledge. Concept inventories (CIs) are designed to assess students' understanding of key concepts, especially those prone to misconceptions. Two-tiered CIs include prompts that ask students to explain the logic behind their answer choice. Such two-tiered CIs afford an opportunity for faculty to explore the student thinking behind the common misconceptions represented by their choice of a distractor. In this study, we specifically sought to probe the misconceptions that students hold prior to beginning an introductory microbiology course (i.e., preconceptions). Faculty-learning communities at two research-intensive universities used the validated Host-Pathogen Interaction Concept Inventory (HPI-CI) to reveal student preconceptions. Our method of deep analysis involved communal review and discussion of students' explanations for their CI answer choice. This approach provided insight valuable for curriculum development. Here the process is illustrated using one question from the HPI-CI related to the important topic of antibiotic resistance. The frequencies with which students chose particular multiple-choice responses for this question were highly correlated between institutions, implying common underlying misconceptions. Examination of student explanations using our analysis approach, coupled with group discussions within and between institutions, revealed patterns in student thinking to the participating faculty. Similar application of a two-tiered concept inventory by general microbiology instructors, either individually or in groups, at other institutions will allow them to better understand student thinking related to key concepts in their curriculum.
Project description:The National Science Foundation estimates that 80% of the jobs available during the next decade will require math and science skills, dictating that programs in biochemistry and molecular biology must be transformative and use new pedagogical approaches and experiential learning for careers in industry, research, education, engineering, health-care professions, and other interdisciplinary fields. These efforts require an environment that values the individual student and integrates recent advances from the primary literature in the discipline, experimentally directed research, data collection and analysis, and scientific writing. Current trends shaping these efforts must include critical thinking, experimental testing, computational modeling, and inferential logic. In essence, modern biochemistry and molecular biology education must be informed by, and integrated with, cutting-edge research. This environment relies on sustained research support, commitment to providing the requisite mentoring, access to instrumentation, and state-of-the-art facilities. The academic environment must establish a culture of excellence and faculty engagement, leading to innovation in the classroom and laboratory. These efforts must not lose sight of the importance of multidimensional programs that enrich science literacy in all facets of the population, students and teachers in K-12 schools, nonbiochemistry and molecular biology students, and other stakeholders. As biochemistry and molecular biology educators, we have an obligation to provide students with the skills that allow them to be innovative and self-reliant. The next generation of biochemistry and molecular biology students must be taught proficiencies in scientific and technological literacy, the importance of the scientific discourse, and skills required for problem solvers of the 21st century.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Recent years have witnessed the wide application of team-based learning(TBL) pedagogy in Chinese pharmacy education. However, the relevant systematic review evaluating the effects of such new pedagogical approach has not been established. The present study was designed to examine systematically the effect of using TBL approach in pharmacy education in China. METHODS:Six databases were searched from the inception to January 2019. The studies reporting the performance of pharmacy students in Chinese university or college receiving TBL pedagogy compared to those receiving traditional lecture-based learning (LBL) were enrolled to be analyzed. Scores of the objective theoretical test were considered as the primary outcome, and the results from questionnaires about the number of students who approved the effects of TBL pedagogy on improving their learning enthusiasm, self-study ability, thinking ability, and communication skills were considered as the secondary outcome. A meta-analysis was conducted following the guidelines of the Cochrane Reviewer's Handbook and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta Analyses statement. RESULTS:A total of 1271 students in 12 studies published from 2013 to 2018 were enrolled in present analysis. Compared with traditional LBL pedagogy, TBL pedagogy exhibited more effectiveness in developing the objective tests scores of pharmacy students from both universities (SMD = 1.69, 95% CI [1.10, 2.28], p < 0.00001) and colleges (SMD = 4.37, 95% CI [1.33, 7.40], p < 0.00001), and such pedagogy applied well in experiments-oriented courses (SMD = 2.14, 95% CI [0.86, 3.43], p < 0.00001) and theory-oriented courses (SMD = 2.77, 95% CI [1.41, 4.14], p < 0.00001). In addition, it developed students' learning enthusiasm, students' self-study ability, thinking ability, and enhanced students' communication skills. CONCLUSIONS:TBL pedagogy has developed rapidly and applied widely in Chinese pharmacy education during the last decade. The results indicated that such novel pedagogy is compatible with the present situation of Chinese pharmacy education. And it could be considered as an effective method to enhance both the theoretical test scores and various abilities of Chinese pharmacy students.
Project description:Scientific thinking is a predicate for scientific inquiry, and thus important to develop early in psychology students as potential future researchers. The present research is aimed at fathoming the contributions of formal and informal learning experiences to psychology students' development of scientific thinking during their 1st-year of study. We hypothesize that informal experiences are relevant beyond formal experiences. First-year psychology student cohorts from various European countries will be assessed at the beginning and again at the end of the second semester. Assessments of scientific thinking will include scientific reasoning skills, the understanding of basic statistics concepts, and epistemic cognition. Formal learning experiences will include engagement in academic activities which are guided by university authorities. Informal learning experiences will include non-compulsory, self-guided learning experiences. Formal and informal experiences will be assessed with a newly developed survey. As dispositional predictors, students' need for cognition and self-efficacy in psychological science will be assessed. In a structural equation model, students' learning experiences and personal dispositions will be examined as predictors of their development of scientific thinking. Commonalities and differences in predictive weights across universities will be tested. The project is aimed at contributing information for designing university environments to optimize the development of students' scientific thinking.
Project description:In biology education research, it has been common to model cognition in terms of relatively stable knowledge structures (e.g., mental models, alternative frameworks, deeply held misconceptions). For example, John D. Coley and Kimberley D. Tanner recently proposed that many student difficulties in biology stem from underlying cognitive frameworks called cognitive construals ( CBE-Life Sciences Education, 11, 209-215 ; CBE-Life Sciences Education, 14, ar8 ). They argued that three such frameworks-teleology, anthropocentrism, and essentialism-cause undergraduate students to hold a range of misconceptions about the biological world. Our purpose in this article is to present an alternative perspective that considers student thinking to be dynamic and context sensitive. Using the example of cognitive construals, we argue that a dynamic perspective creates a burden of proof for claims of cognitive stability-to demonstrate that patterns of thinking are indeed stable across contexts. To illustrate our argument, we report on the results of a study designed to explore the stability of students' apparent teleological, anthropocentric, and essentialist thinking. Our results are inconsistent with framework models. We propose instead that response patterns stem from students' context-specific interpretations of the statements, consistent with dynamic models of cognition. Building on these preliminary findings, we discuss the implications of a dynamic view of cognition for biology education research and biology instruction.
Project description:Recent calls for college biology education reform have identified "pathways and transformations of matter and energy" as a big idea in biology crucial for students to learn. Previous work has been conducted on how college students think about such matter-transforming processes; however, little research has investigated how students connect these ideas. Here, we probe student thinking about matter transformations in the familiar context of human weight loss. Our analysis of 1192 student constructed responses revealed three scientific (which we label "Normative") and five less scientific (which we label "Developing") ideas that students use to explain weight loss. Additionally, students combine these ideas in their responses, with an average number of 2.19 ± 1.07 ideas per response, and 74.4% of responses containing two or more ideas. These results highlight the extent to which students hold multiple (both correct and incorrect) ideas about complex biological processes. We described student responses as conforming to either Scientific, Mixed, or Developing descriptive models, which had an average of 1.9 ± 0.6, 3.1 ± 0.9, and 1.7 ± 0.8 ideas per response, respectively. Such heterogeneous student thinking is characteristic of difficulties in both conceptual change and early expertise development and will require careful instructional intervention for lasting learning gains.
Project description:Assessments represent an important component of undergraduate courses because they affect how students interact with course content and gauge student achievement of course objectives. To make decisions on assessment design, instructors must understand the affordances and limitations of available question formats. Here, we use a crossover experimental design to identify differences in how multiple-true-false (MTF) and free-response (FR) exam questions reveal student thinking regarding specific conceptions. We report that correct response rates correlate across the two formats but that a higher percentage of students provide correct responses for MTF questions. We find that MTF questions reveal a high prevalence of students with mixed (correct and incorrect) conceptions, while FR questions reveal a high prevalence of students with partial (correct and unclear) conceptions. These results suggest that MTF question prompts can direct students to address specific conceptions but obscure nuances in student thinking and may overestimate the frequency of particular conceptions. Conversely, FR questions provide a more authentic portrait of student thinking but may face limitations in their ability to diagnose specific, particularly incorrect, conceptions. We further discuss an intrinsic tension between question structure and diagnostic capacity and how instructors might use multiple formats or hybrid formats to overcome these obstacles.