[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study was undertaken to gain insights into undergraduate students' understanding of early embryonic development, specifically, how well they comprehend the concepts of volume constancy, cell lineages, body plan axes, and temporal and spatial dimensionality in development. To study student learning, a curriculum was developed incorporating resources from the Caenorhabditis elegans research community. Students engaged in a preactivity assessment, followed by instructional materials (IMs) emphasizing inquiry-based learning and a postinstruction assessment to gauge their learning. This study, conducted at two research sites with eight and nine students, respectively, shows that before instruction, most students confused embryonic cell cleavage, where total volume is constant, with regular cell division, in which total cell volume doubles. Despite their ability to construct a cell lineage tree, most of the study participants were not aware of its biological significance. All students correctly identified cells of anterior and posterior axis, but not cells of the dorsal and ventral axis. Although the students had no difficulty with the time dimensional aspect of development, most viewed an embryo as spatially two-dimensional rather than three-dimensional. Furthermore, this study indicates that combining authentic research resources with inquiry-based learning benefits student learning of key concepts in embryology.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Animations have long been used as tools to illustrate complex processes in such diverse fields as mechanical engineering, astronomy, bacteriology and physics. Animations in biology hold particular educational promise for depicting complex dynamic processes, such as photosynthesis, motility, viral replication and cellular respiration, which cannot be easily explained using static two-dimensional images. However, these animations have often been restrictive in scope, having been created for a specific classroom or research audience. In recent years, a new type of animation has emerged called the BioClip (http://www.bioclips.com) that strives to present science in an interactive multimedia format, which is, at once, informative and entertaining, by combining animations, text descriptions and music in one portable cross-platform document. In the present article, we illustrate the educational value of this new electronic resource by reviewing in depth two BioClips our group has created which describe the processes of symmetric and asymmetric cell division (http://www.wormclassroom.org/cb/bioclip).
Biology of the Cell 06/2007; 99(5):289-95. DOI:10.1042/BC20050100 · 3.51 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The utilization of biology research resources, coupled with a "learning by inquiry" approach, has great potential to aid students in gaining an understanding of fundamental biological principles. To help realize this potential, we have developed a Web portal for undergraduate biology education, WormClassroom.org, based on current research resources of a model research organism, Caenorhabditis elegans. This portal is intended to serve as a resource gateway for students to learn biological concepts using C. elegans research material. The driving forces behind the WormClassroom website were the strengths of C. elegans as a teaching organism, getting researchers and educators to work together to develop instructional materials, and the 3 P's (problem posing, problem solving, and peer persuasion) approach for inquiry learning. Iterative assessment is an important aspect of the WormClassroom site development because it not only ensures that content is up-to-date and accurate, but also verifies that it does, in fact, aid student learning. A primary assessment was performed to refine the WormClassroom website utilizing undergraduate biology students and nonstudent experts such as C. elegans researchers; results and comments were used for site improvement. We are actively encouraging continued resource contributions from the C. elegans research and education community for the further development of WormClassroom.