This PhD thesis presents an extensive analysis of the results obtained in a research regarding the teaching as well as the learning concepts of Biological Chemistry implied in the cellular respiration topic, in eukaryotes. To carry out the present study, both quantitative and qualitative research methods were implemented. We worked, mainly, with three populations: one of secondary school level and two of university level, from the Common Basic Cycle (first year of university) and from the Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences, both from the UBA.
Didactical, historical, and epistemological resources have been used as multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks to encompass visions of communication between experts and novices. Models, arguments, languages, and the evolution of scientific knowledge have been premises for the analysis of explanatory discourses on the analogy between chemical combustion and the global reaction of cellular respiration, and on the chain of electron transport in mitochondria. Likewise, those theoretical frameworks have also been used to support the design of original inquiry devices, which were applied to reveal learning efficiencies either in freshmen and fourth-year university students.
In Part A of the Thesis, the design of an original interdisciplinary proposal for teaching the concept of chemical combustión is presented. Its application on a secondary-level students population shows very satisfactory results, at the same time that reveals implicit underlying obstacles for professors as challenges from innovative teaching methodologies.
In Part B, a historical-epistemological analysis of the analogy between cellular respiration and glucose combustion and its use as a teaching device are carried out. Finally, freshmen students’ learning epistemological obstacles have been detected due to the application of this analogy during teaching processes.
In Part C of the Thesis, a historical-epistemological analysis of redox aspects of cellular respiration in mitochondria from the 18th century to the present is presented, with particular emphasis on the analysis of the Electron Transport Chain model, its structural components, and the participation of cofactors. Likewise, the research about the impact of teaching with the analogy finds new epistemological obstacles, particularly in freshmen’s learnings.
In Part D of the Thesis, a teaching proposal is presented to show the transport of electrons in prokaryotic cellular respiration, through an experimental device known as Sedimentary Microbial Fuel Cell that simulates an aerobic respiration mechanism for anaerobic bacteria (that do not have mitochondria). This PhD Thesis makes original historical-epistemological-didactic contributions in two dimensions, one related to the integrated visions about teaching redox aspects of cellular respiration, and the other to the design of original instruments. However these instruments are used in the present context to the inquiry about learning, they may also be used as teaching devices, due to their possible didactic power to elicit metacongintive reflections and help students to overcome conceptual obstacles during
their respective learning processes.